Mavenir seeks to build on legacy as telecom disrupter

Mavenir announced earlier this month that it had landed a deal with a Tier 1 North American carrier for Its NFV-based CloudRange platform.

Mavenir's roots in telecommunications date back go back 12 years, but the company has undergone various name changes and technology shifts along the way. While Mavenir didn't disclose the name of the Tier 1 operator, it does have CloudRange related deployments in place with T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T.

"All of our customers that are using NFV are using some elements of CloudRange," said Mavenir's Bejoy Pankajakshan, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "It just depends on what portions they have deployed."

CloudRange includes NFV management and orchestration (MANO) capabilities that are in the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP.) Pankajakshan said Mavenir is a member of both ONAP and ETSI's OSM open source communities.

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The CloudRange MANO layer includes a virtual network functions manager (VNFM) while Mavenir has partnerships in place with other vendors, such as Red Hat and Wind River, for networks functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) and virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM.)

The CloudRange portfolio allows service providers to use their existing networks for slicing selected services while also creating additional slices for new revenue-generating services. CloudRange works across the radio, core and applications of a network.

"There are three pillars that we have in all of our solutions," Pankajakshan said. "The first two are either reduce the cost for the operator or generate new revenue opportunities. The third one is protecting what revenue they have. So each of these solutions that we have fit in with that model."

On the 5G front, last year Mavenir bought the virtual evolved packet core (EPC) unit of Brocade. Pankajakshan said Mavenir was responding to four or five RFPs for its EPC from Tier 1 carriers that are building their 5G cores.

"We've got some elements of the 5G core," he said. "Some of them are for proof-of-concepts in the lab today with a few operators. That's what's happening in the EPC or the packet core handling side. With regard to the radio, where we started off is with the cloud RAN architecture where we are separating the processing with their split deployments. But here again, the objective is that we are helping the operators drive the cost down on the radio side, which is where they spend the majority of their money today, by having an open RAN.

"One of the prime reasons why we acquired part of Brocade was because we'd seen the drive towards edge computing. It's one of the only EPCs that can actually scale down to like two cores or single core with a full EPC."

In addition to NFV MANO and cloud RAN, Mavenir also has cloud-native network-based solutions available for carriers. 

"We've actually announced a product called MBC, Media Breakout Controller, that we've showed at several industry forums," Pankajakshan said.

Mavenir has a large global footprint with more than 250 service provider customers across 130 countries. It serves 50% of the world's subscribers. Pankajakshan said that in North America, Mavenir primarily competes against Ericsson and Nokia while it faces Huawei and ZTE in other markets.

"Occasionally, we run into smaller players like Metaswitch and Ribbon Communications for point solutions," he said.

A history of disruption

Pankajakshan spoke to FierceTelecom after we published our list of top tech disruptors in the telco industry in August. Pankajakshan made his case then for why Mavenir was and still is a disruptor in the telco space.

Pankajakshan said that his company was the first to help operators deploy Voice Over LTE worldwide, and the first to offer unified communications or rich communications globally as well.

"If you look at the number of firsts we have had globally that itself is a good indication of the disruption we've brought to the industry," he said. "In North America, we were the first ones to do IMS-based RCS communications. The first real disruption that's happened in IMS is the service that's T-mobile launched called Multi-ID, or DIGITS, and that was all based on Mavenir solutions."

Mavenir has also been active in the M&A arena, including this year's deal to buy network security specialist Argyle Data this year, and mobile data marketing specialist Aquto last year.

Mavenir has also been on the other end of M&A deals. In 2015, it was bought by Mitel only to have Mitel sell Mavenir to Siris Capital-owned messaging and unified communications company Xura in 2016. Last year, Xura went back to the Mavenir name while also pivoting towards more of 5G focus.

"We are always looking at new companies to acquire and new areas," Pankajakshan said. "If you look at the acquisitions that we have done, they've always been to address either a gap that we have in our portfolio or to get us into adjacent areas of our portfolio."