Microsoft today announced it is acquiring Affirmed Networks, a startup that offers fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network solutions, for an undisclosed amount. The company wants to integrate Affirmed Networks’ technology into Microsoft Azure to let the telecommunications industry deploy and maintain 5G networks via the cloud rather than just hardware and software.
Affirmed Networks offers a virtualized cloud-native network called Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) that lets communication service providers scale with the demands of mobile services. The startup also offers a cloud-native platform for 5G and a range of capabilities in automation and orchestration. Microsoft describes Affirmed Networks’ solutions as letting operators “simplify network operations, reduce costs, and rapidly create, and launch new revenue-generating services.” Affirmed Networks CEO Anand Krishnamurthy, who was only appointed yesterday, says the startup has helped over 100 customers across the globe move to its model at “70% of the cost of traditional networks.”
We asked Microsoft how these customers (which include Vodafone, AT&T, and Softbank) will be affected. “There is no change for Affirmed Networks’ customers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “The continuity of their business operations is paramount.”
Telecommunication service providers are currently racing to adopt 5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies, with promises of faster speeds and lower latencies. Potential applications range from autonomous vehicles and smart cities to virtual reality and augmented reality. As carriers upgrade their infrastructure, there’s an opportunity to manage their 5G network workloads in the cloud while serving their customers’ edge computing needs. (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud have been increasingly striking cloud deals with telecom providers over the past few years.)
Microsoft wants to help accelerate the telecommunications industry’s transition to the cloud using Affirmed Networks’ tech. Here is how the company is justifying the acquisition:
This acquisition will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators. With Affirmed Networks, we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the cloud. Previous generations of wireless networks have been based on purpose-built hardware. We believe that with innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently, more cost effectively, more rapidly, and more securely.
Affirmed Networks was founded in 2010 and has raised $155 million to date. The startup has four cofounders: Hassan Ahmed, Stephan Noll, Terry Durand, and Timothy Mortsolf. In his announcement, Krishnamurthy thanked the company’s customers, employees, investors, and partners.