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Juniper, Affirmed to Help Service Providers Become More Mobile

The two vendors are combining technologies to create a reference architecture to make it easier for telcos to build virtualized mobile networks.

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Juniper Networks and Affirmed Networks are pooling their resources to create a reference architecture to help service providers more easily transition to virtualized mobile architectures that will help them better respond to the rapid growth in the number of connected devices and competitors.

The two companies on Feb. 17 said they are partnering to jointly develop offerings that are designed to enable service providers to build networks that are more programmable, agile and affordable that will allow them to more quickly spin out new services to their customers.

With the 2016 Mobile World Congress show on the horizon—it runs Feb. 22 to 25 in Barcelona, Spain—networking vendors are focusing on helping service providers and carriers become more mobile and more virtualized. For example, Brocade on Feb. 16 unveiled new offerings aimed at helping mobile operators get ready for 5G connectivity.

Service providers are under increasing pressure from the growing numbers of connected devices—Cisco Systems officials expect that by 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide, up from 25 billion in 2014—the increased use of video and trends such as the Internet of things (IoT) and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices. They also face competition from agile competitors, including startups and over-the-top (OTT) providers.

Network-functions virtualization (NFV)—which puts networking tasks like load balancing, routing and firewalls into software that can run on commodity hardware—is the key tool for enabling telecommunications companies to more easily deliver new services and open new revenue streams, according to officials from Juniper and Affirmed. The joint reference architecture is being developed to enable telcos to more easily make the move to NFV.

"The debate is over," Amit Tiwari, vice president of strategic alliances and systems engineering at Affirmed, said in a statement. "The architectures supporting mobile networks will be virtualized. The only question remaining is how successfully and how profitably this evolution will occur."

The reference architecture will combine Affirmed's Mobile Content Cloud virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC) technology with Juniper's virtualization products, including the vSRX virtual firewall, Contrail Cloud Platform and MetaFabric Architecture for data center deployments, the officials said.

"Wireless operators need an easy, cost-effective way to utilize NFV to deliver new services to end customers," Paul Obsitnik, vice president of service provider portfolio marketing at Juniper, said in a statement, adding that the combination of the Juniper and Affirmed technologies will enable customers to "build networks that utilize automation and intelligence to deliver new services efficiently."