Specifically, Affirmed Networks Inc., a Boston-area startup founded in 2010, was selected to help AT&T develop a virtual evolved packet core (EPC). The EPC is a popular subject of network functions virtualization (NFV) demos here at MWC — including demos from big names that Affirmed apparently beat, such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Ericsson.
Affirmed is showing a virtual EPC of its own at Mobile World Congress this week, running on HP hardware. Separately, Affirmed has its own off-the-shelf chassis, the AN3000, where it hosts cloud-based mobile-network functions such as subscriber management and gateway services.
Domain 2.0 is AT&T’s effort to broaden beyond the two “domain suppliers” that the carrier typically picks for each major technology area. AT&T wants to take better advantage of startups, open-source technology, and of ideas that come from outside the telecom sphere. (You could count software-defined networking (SDN) as a prime example.)
Among the things Domain 2.0 will support is the User-Defined Network Cloud, a concept AT&T announced just today (so don’t feel bad if you had no idea what that is). It’s the culmination of what SDN and NFV are expected to do, including divorcing software functions from specific hardware, and it hits the major bullet points of those technologies’ benefits, including cost savings and speedier rollouts of applications.