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Affirmed Slices Into Network Management, Aims for IPO

Dan Jones
7/13/2017
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Affirmed is claiming a network-slicing first as it pushes to be what the CEO calls an "important company" in a pre-5G world.

The company has put together software, called the Affirmed Virtual Slice Selection Function (vSSF), that's aimed at making the task of network slicing easier on today's core networks and is targeted at multi-vendor network environments.

Network slicing -- being able to separate and assign network resources to a new service being set up by an operator -- will be part of the 5G specification. But operators are already running with the concept and this should make it easier on today's networks, says Angela Whiteford, VP of product marketing and management at Affirmed Networks Inc.

"This is not just only for 5G... The reality is, operators need it right now, says Whiteford. "It allows you to match the requirements of the service to the network resources available."

Operators can get to network slicing today by manually recoding functions in the APN. Whiteford says this is "complicated" and "like using a blunt instrument." The vSSF automates that process, Whiteford says.

The software sits between the Mobility Management Entity (MME) and gateways in an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) architecture. Affirmed says that it has so far tested the software with larger operators.

"You typically need to operate with operators that are large enough to have multiple gateways," Whiteford notes.

"Virtualization enables operators to offer core networks optimized to the functional requirements of a customer or application, more quickly and at lower cost than building traditional dedicated networks," says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown.

This becomes increasingly complicated as operators add more services around new applications like connected cars and the Internet of Things (IoT). Hence the need for new automation tools in the network.

"No one else is doing this as far as I am aware," Brown notes.

All of this comes ahead of the arrival of 5G and massive IoT services, all of which Affirmed is hoping to fully capitalize on.

Earlier this year, Affirmed CEO Hassan Ahmed told Light Reading that he wanted the startup to be part of what he anticipates will be a major wave of disruption as network functions become more and more automated.

"Our aspiration has always been to be treated as a very important company... You will see Affirmed as a public company at some point," Ahmed said.

He didn't, however, put a timescale on that ambition.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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