A startup led by the former CEO of Sonus Networks Inc. is aiming to be a star of software-defined networking (SDN) for mobile voice, video and 4G communications.
Acton, Mass.-based Affirmed Networks Inc. is led by CEO Hassan Ahmed. Starting in 2010, he formed a team of ex-Starent Networks and Airvana Inc. executives to try to create a product aimed at simplifying current network architectures whilst being smarter about the type of data being served up over the network. (See Ahmed Severs Ties With Sonus.)
"This is the new world," Ahmed tells Light Reading Mobile. "Data traffic is growing faster than Moore's Law, basically."
Ahmed says that Affirmed has been trying to stay under the radar for the last two and half years. The company, however, is now ready to come out and compete with Cisco Systems Inc. and many others with its AN3000 box and software platform, and Acuitas service management system.
Ahmed claims that his company's box will replace several in a traditional network as well as making mobile services cheaper and quicker to implement. "It's about having networks that are smart and can tell the difference between VoIP flows and video flows," he says.
In an SDN environment, the physical hardware is decoupled from the control plane and data flows can be managed via software. Ahmed argues that mobile operators can no longer "use individual boxes to solve individual problems" because that makes it difficult to scale the network to meet traffic demands.
Over time, this could mean changes to the way networks are managed, he claims. Currently operators can set up the Acuitas management console so that different teams can get standard views into their segments of the network. Eventually, Ahmed expects that teams will take a wider view of the data flows over more of the network.
"Five, six years from now, I think you'll see a lot of more of the kind of network management systems we're talking about and a lot higher level of services management," he claims. "It'll be cool to look back and say, 'Hey, we changed that'."
The AN3000 and the software have now been available to operators for a few months. "We're in a bunch of trials all around the world," Ahmed claims, without giving operator names. These include lab tests, field trials and some that have gone further. The CEO says that the company thinks that its key markets will be in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
The executive team behind Ahmed includes major figures from Airvana, AT&T Inc., Arroyo Networks, Ericsson AB, Sonus and several key figures from Starent. Ahmed points out that this gives the company expertise in networking equipment, video content and mobility. (See Cisco Snatches VOD Vendor Arroyo and Cisco to Buy Starent for $2.9B.)
LR Mobile couldn't also help but note that both Arroyo and Starent were bought by Cisco. Could a pattern be emerging for Affirmed here too, we wondered?
"Yeah, it's a bad pattern, not one to be repeated," the CEO said, laughing.
Affirmed is backed by Ahmed's recent employer, Charles River Ventures, as well as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners. The company also has strategic investments from T-Venture and Vodafone Ventures.
The company has raised A and B rounds, but has yet to reveal how much it has secured. However, Mass High Tech reported in June 2010 that Affirmed had raised an US$11 million round and could add more.
â€” Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile