Affirmed Networks Makes Network Slicing Possible on LTE

Affirmed Networks is making it possible for operators to slice and dice their legacy network traffic without having to wait for 5G. Using its virtual slice selection function (vSSF), Affirmed lets carriers steer traffic into slices over both legacy, virtualized, and multivendor networks.

According to Angela Whiteford, vice president of marketing and product management at Affirmed, operators currently can only segment traffic by the domain name server and have it steered to a certain gateway. But by using Affirmed’s vSSF, operators can steer traffic based upon the device, the time of day, the type of service, location, or even customer ID.

For many operators that are in the process of virtualizing their networks, the vSSF could help them with that transition because it will let them use their legacy network for certain services and redirect traffic to that network, Whiteford said.  At the same time, operators can use their virtualized network to create differentiated services that are more profitable. “Operators are moving to virtualization to deal with the growth. But virtualization is being used to scale cost effectively,” she said. “They need to make money off of the traffic, and the fastest way is through differentiated services.”

The vSSF can be combined with other Affirmed products so that operators can not just create network slices but also receive real-time analysis of the slices.

This isn’t the first time Affirmed has touted its ability to help operators with network slicing. In February, the company debuted a virtualized IoT platform for narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). That platform also uses a cloud-native architecture and supports advanced capabilities like network slicing, the company said.

Load Balancing

One area that Whiteford thinks vSSF could be particularly helpful is in load balancing. Load balancing is used to distribute workloads across multiple resources. Operators have to balance their traffic across various gateways every night. And while many have automated scripts that they write to help make the process more streamlined, according to Whiteford, it’s a very painful process.

vSSF helps that process because operators, for example, will be able to steer all enterprise traffic to a legacy slice and steer all consumer traffic to a virtual slice. “This is simple and you can do it now,” she said. “The steering function lets you manipulate the traffic.”