May 21, 2022

Intel acquires private 5G network provider Ananki • The Register

Intel acquired private 5G network provider Ananki, months after the startup split from the nonprofit Open Networking Foundation to bring open-source networking technologies to market.

The acquisition was confirmed on Monday on LinkedIn by Guru Parulkar, who was co-founder and CEO of Ananki and executive director of the Open Networking Foundation.

Curiously, Intel declined to comment on the Ananki acquisition and instead confirmed a development that Parulkar said was related: that the Open Networking Foundation development team has joined Intel’s Networking and Edge group. Intel’s statement echoes a quote provided by Intel’s senior networking executive Nick McKeown in a Press release published by the non-profit association.

“The addition of these developers will support [the Network and Edge Group’s] mission to drive the transition to software-defined and fully programmable infrastructure – from the cloud, through the internet and 5G networks, to the intelligent edge. Intel intends to continue to support and contribute to NFB’s open source efforts,” an Intel spokesperson said. No financial terms were disclosed.

Ananki provides an open-source, software-defined service that aims to make private 5G “as easy to consume as Wi-Fi” for companies working on so-called Industry 4.0 projects. It involves connecting a variety of things, including cameras, sensors, robots and autonomous vehicles, over high-speed networks in various environments, from factories to retail stores.

Ananki offers a diverse line of products, including a SaaS-based 5G software stack, small cell radios, SIM cards, and a dashboard to monitor and analyze network activity. These are delivered through a subscription-based service that charges organizations based on the 5G coverage they need.

If Intel continues to offer Ananki’s products as a subscription service, it would fit into the semiconductor giant’s plan to boost hardware sales with a significant boost in software revenue, as The register has already reported. Less than two weeks ago, we reported that Intel planned to offer cloud optimization software from Granulate, another startup it plans to acquire, in the sales pitches for Xeon processors.

The Ananki transaction is part of a larger effort by the Open Networking Foundation to support the growing commercialization of its open source software-defined networking technologies, which it originally developed with financial support from its more than 100 members. These include Intel as well as several other leading technology companies, such as AMD, AT&T, Broadcom, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, and T-Mobile.

The Open Networking Foundation said this new marketing change involves open source of all of its production-ready software, which includes proprietary 5G, SD-RAN, SD-Fabric and SD-Core technologies that serve basic to Ananki products. The non-profit organization has also made its software-defined and programmable P4 broadband networking technologies available as open source.

“We’ve built platforms that naysayers said were doomed to fail, we’ve proven what’s possible, and today a number of our platforms have been deployed in production networks and others are now production-ready and expected to be widely adopted,” said Parulkar, who is now vice president of software at Intel’s Network and Edge Group.

Basically, the commercialization push of the nonprofit includes moving development from internal teams to member organizations. As such, the nonprofit is moving the majority of its development team to Intel’s Network and Edge Group, which is also Ananki’s new headquarters.

“ONF has made significant contributions to the industry with its software-defined development projects, and I’m confident that its move to a community-based model as part of its next stage of growth will fuel further contributions as the he industry and its needs are progressing,” McKeown said. ®