Where it's based: Acton, Mass.
When it was founded: 2010
Why it's Fierce: Affirmed Networks rose to fame in February when AT&T Mobility named it as one of its key vendors for its "User-Defined Network Cloud" strategy. AT&T picked Affirmed for its virtual Evolved Packet Core technology, which has been a key component of the vendor's strategy since it was founded in 2010. Affirmed joined the likes of Ericsson, Tail-F Systems and Metaswitch in AT&T's Domain 2.0 supplier program.
AT&T is trying to use both software-defined networking and network function virtualization to move to commodity network gear and virtualize hardware functions to cut costs and make its network more controllable via software. Although Affirmed has a variety of solutions, including for radio access network optimization, Voice over LTE, signaling traffic and more, its virtualized EPC is what caught AT&T's eye.
Even though Affirmed's selection by AT&T was a surprise to many, the company claims its vEPC is already running production traffic on some as-yet-unidentified LTE networks, which puts it ahead of major infrastructure vendors. In a way, Affirmed is a boutique vendor, since its vEPC solution does not include a full-fledged policy and charging rules function (PCRF) server and other network components that need to come from other vendors. Still, that didn't stop AT&T from plucking the company out of relative obscurity and into the limelight.
What's next: Affirmed's last major fundraising round was a $51 million Series C round of funding in June 2013 led by Bessemer Venture Partners and joined by KCK Group. The company is backed by a wide range of investors, including venture capital investors Charles River Ventures, Matrix Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, KCK Group, Matrix Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and strategic investors T-Venture and Vodafone Venture.
For now, Affirmed will take on a more prominent role as one of AT&T's Domain 2.0 suppliers, as the carrier moves to an all-IP network and starts launching products and services that take advantage of SDN and NFV.