Last month Microsoft acquired vEPC specialist Affirmed Networks
Microsoft this week announced it has signed a definite agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, a cloud-native virtual network functions provider that works with fixed and mobile operators. This follows Microsoft’s acquisition of virtualized Evolved Packet Core vendor Affirmed Networks announced in late March.
The goal here seems to be using the transition to 5G as a springboard for Microsoft to significantly expand it’s reach into the service provider market segment by facilitating a path from virtualization to cloud-native. At the same time, the Azure offering recently received an update with edge zones for operators and enterprises.
As 5G is rolled out, distributing cloud compute out to the network edge is seen as a major enabler of supporting real-time applications like precision robotics or AGVs; the latency of gain of 5G needs localized compute for instantaneous decision making.
Corporative Vice President of Azure Network Yousef Khalidi laid out the strategy in a blog post: “As the industry moves to 5G, operators will have opportunities to advance the virtualization of their core networks and move forward on a path to an increasingly cloud-native future. Microsoft will continue to meet customers where they are, working together with the industry as operators and network equipment providers evolve their own operations.”
In a recent earnings call, preceded by its acquisition of Affirmed Networks, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provided insight into the company’s ambitions around supporting 5G applications at the network edge. From a product perspective, this encompassed Azure Edge Zones and Azure Private Edge Zones, former meant to connect directly to 5G networks and the latter a private LTE/5G network combined with on-premises Azure Stack Edge.
Nadella said Microsoft has “the only cloud that extends to the edge, with consistency across operating models, development environments, and infrastructure stack.” He said Azure Edge Zones and 5G will “enable immersive, real-time experiences that require ultra-low latency. And our acquisition of Affirmed Networks will help operators deploy and maintain 5G networks and services cost effectively and securely.”
In a statement, Metaswitch CEO Martin Lund said, “We’ll be ideally placed to aid those operators keen to transition to cloud native deployments, to 5G networks and to the era of compelling applications that are served from the core and edge of new network architectures.”