Microsoft gains boost from Affirmed Networks acquisition but needs to maintain momentum to remain competitive

With two major announcements in the past month, Microsoft has significantly sharpened its focus on addressing emerging 5G priorities for network operators. Despite the strong step forward with these two announcements, Microsoft will need to continue to keep its foot on the accelerator with regard to its telecoms strategy in order to maintain its competitive edge, says GlobalData, leading data and analytics company.

Glen Hunt, Principal Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As it targets edge computing opportunities, Microsoft may need to help customers navigate additional edge computing challenges related to security, architecture design and workload placement in order to stay competitive. Microsoft faces competition in the market for edge computing from IT infrastructure vendors such as VMware, IBM and HPE; cloud providers such as AWS, Google, and Alibaba; as well as traditional network equipment suppliers, including Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE.”

In March, Microsoft acquired Affirmed Networks, a company specializing in fully virtualized, cloud-native networking solutions for telecom operators. Affirmed has garnered over 100 telco-related deployments and has instrumented its software portfolio using virtualized cloud-native technologies that closely align with Microsoft’s cloud-based solutions.

Hunt continues: “The acquisition, and in particular Affirmed’s UnityCloud 5G core product, should establish a stronger Microsoft presence in the operator space and bring a more complete end-to-end value proposition, which includes packet core telco functions coupled with a leading presence in cloud-based IT and enterprise solutions.”

Microsoft’s Azure Edge Zones offers three models designed to strengthen the role of Microsoft’s public cloud within edge deployment scenarios. One model focuses specifically on network operators by connecting Azure services directly with 5G networks in operator data centers.

Hunt adds: “The move will help Microsoft compete more effectively in the telecoms market as more 5G use cases are introduced that require low-latency, edge-based functionality. Having the ability to integrate networking and cloud services into a consistent operational model helps Microsoft differentiate itself from other cloud providers that are tapping into 5G’s huge potential, but do not own networking assets such as the Affirmed products Microsoft just acquired.”

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