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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Introduces Azure Space to Further Push the Boundaries of Cloud Computing

Microsoft Introduces Azure Space to Further Push the Boundaries of Cloud Computing

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Recently Microsoft launched its Azure Space initiative as a further push of cloud computing towards space. This initiative by the public cloud vendor consists of several products and partnerships to position Azure as a critical player in the space- and satellite-related connectivity and compute part of the cloud market.

Currently, Microsoft delivers its cloud computing through regions spanning the globe, on-premise within enterprises through Azure Stack, and devices with Stack Edge. With Azure Space, the company aims to offer mobile cloud computing data centers that can be deployed anywhere for customers that have remote-access and bandwidth needs. Furthermore, the launch of Azure Space is accompanied by the announcement of a major collaboration with SpaceX to provide satellite-powered internet connectivity on Azure. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, said in a tweet:

Today we're launching Azure Space. A thriving ecosystem of satellite providers is essential to meet the world's growing network needs, and we're expanding our offerings to provide access to satellite data and connectivity from Azure.

Next to the partnership with SpaceX, Microsoft continues their existing Azure Orbital partnership with SES, which support its O3B Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation O3b MEO - to extend connectivity between our cloud datacenter regions and cloud edge devices. Furthermore, the partnerships will bring, according to the blog post detailing the initiative:

Lastly, Microsoft also announced in conjunction with Azure Space the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC), a data center that has a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, server racks, networking and security capabilities. This type of data center can run on its own with minimal or no bandwidth, and leverage connectivity in remote areas through Satcom satellites, which partner with Microsoft.

Source: https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/10/20/azure-space-cloud-powered-innovation-on-and-off-the-planet/

Microsoft's main competitor in this space is AWS, who in June of this year announced its space-industry strategy and space unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions. Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president at Constellation Research Inc., told InfoQ:

The cloud battles are being expanded to space, with Microsoft getting in the mix. And it makes sense - as space is infinite - so are the computing demands to power space-related data and operations - the best place to do so is in the public cloud.

Mueller also said:

It also shows in which microsegments the major cloud provider is now battling for market share; fair enough there is an over proportional $ in this segment.

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