Is Microsoft about to start tredding on the “big boys” as they acquire Affirmed Networks, to get foot into 5G software defined nefworks?

Microsoft has agreed to buy Affirmed Networks, a company that builds tools that enable software-defined networking capabilities, such as network function virtualisation (or NFV), across the emerging 5G infrastructure.

Today, Affirmed Networks provides a way for global mobile/data data carriers to grow networks to meet increasing demand by drawing on virtualised cloud based infrastructure.

Affirmed existing customers include AT&T, Orange, SoftBank, Telus and Vodafone.

Why the purchase?

This is a smart move I think, since adding 5G capability and integrated services to drive their Azure cloud busienss and in particular edge computing services like AzureStack through 5G smart networking makes a lot of sense….

This would of course help Microsoft leap forward and accelerate their Azure Cloud business by allowing them to develop and sell products/services that are more appropriate for a specific industries that focus on alway connected and edge based services in line with global network operators roll out of this new super fast 5G connectivity.

It’s all about mobile and edge computing

This acquisition has the potential, if executed correctly, to put Microsoft into a very key and unique position in the 5G world, since this now gives them a guaranteed “seat” at the table with the other major 5G telcos and other large service providers all over the world.

Not only could Microsoft use this connection to have Azure potentially serve as a core platform for 5G infrastructure, it also provides a potential capability to bring cloud computing resources running on Azure closer to the network infrastructure – speeding up and simplifying the running of cloud-based edge apps and services across 5G networks.

Is Microsoft about to tread firmly on Cisco’s Feet in the NFV space?

Of course, only time will tell how well Microsoft make use of this new acquisition and use it to drive forward with smart 5G connected Azure Services.

Cisco, has also been making significant investments in software for enabling virtualised networks (NFV) as has also been working with global telcos.

If fact, Cisco are already in deep partnership with Rakuten helping to power what many believe is the world’s first completely cloud-native virtualised telco network scheduled to publicly in Japan in May/June 2020. This will leveraging vast amounts of computing power from Intel-powered whitebox servers and will be powered by Cisco’s Virtualized Infrastructure Manager and is powered by Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Nexus 9000 switches.

This blog by Cisco goes into the technical depth about how this will tech will help streamline 5G network providers so its clear why Microsoft have jumped in at this early stage too..

What’s next?

Knowing Microsoft, it won’t be long before we hear more and I expect to see this become and feature/add on for Azure Stack in comimh months.

Regardless of what happens, though, it’s clear that there’s a new level of intensity and focus on the 5G infrastructure market that’s likely to increase over the next few years.

One thing is for sure.. This won’t be a one legged race and I expect to see more disruption in this space.

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