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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces New Azure Space Capabilities

Microsoft Announces New Azure Space Capabilities

Recently Microsoft announced a series of updates around Azure Space, their offering combing cloud and space. The company now brings Azure Orbital to general availability (GA), offers a new service with Azure Orbital Cloud Access in preview, and advances the digital transformation of satellite communication networks.

Since the release of Azure Space, a collection of several products and agreements to provide access to satellite data and connectivity from Azure, Microsoft has worked on establishing partnerships and bringing more products and tools. Last year, it announced new satellite connectivity and geospatial capabilities for Azure Space, including the preview of Azure Orbital - a ground station-as-a-service that provides communication and control of satellites. 

Alongside the company’s partner network, including KSAT, Microsoft brings Azure Orbital to GA, making it available to all satellite operators, such as Pixxel, Muon Space, and Loft Orbital. In an Azure blog post, Jason Zander, EVP, Strategic Missions and Technologies at Microsoft, explains:

Through Microsoft’s unique partner-focused approach, we are bringing together a deep integration of ground station partner networks to enable our customers’ data delivery to an Azure region of choice at zero cost, thus reducing their total operational costs and ensuring data is available in the customer’s Azure tenant for further processing.

Besides Azure Orbital, Microsoft previews a new service Azure Orbital Cloud Access, which brings connectivity from the cloud wherever businesses and public sector organizations need it. It is the company’s answer to the increase in low-latency satellite communication networks. The service enables low-latency (1-hop) access to the cloud—from anywhere on the planet—making it easier to bring satellite-based communications into enterprises’ cloud operations.


Azure Orbital Cloud Access manages the entire solution for customers, charging on a simple monthly subscription basis and a pay-as-you-go satellite communications consumption model. Furthermore, it integrates natively with SD-WAN technology from Juniper Networks, allowing customers to prioritize connectivity between fiber, cellular, and satellite communications networks.

Philippe Limantour, a chief technology officer, Technology and Cybersecurity, at Microsoft, tweeted:

#Microsoft expands its Azure Space satellite-connectivity options. #Azure #Orbital #Cloud Access is meant to intelligently prioritize traffic across fiber, cellular, and satellite networks.

Lastly, Microsoft also announced an expansion of the SES partnership through a new joint Satellite Communications Virtualization Program, a program where Microsoft and SES will create the world’s first fully virtualized satellite communications ground network by focusing on software-defined hubs, customer edge terminals, new virtual network functions, edge cloud applications, and more.

SES explains in a press release:

Both SES and Microsoft believe this new fully virtualized ground network will serve as an industry blueprint to align cloud and satellite network architectures and accelerate the delivery of new value-added services to customers. A virtualized ground network will also further harness the capability and flexibility of next-generation constellations to seamlessly combine the power of the cloud and space to benefit enterprise, government, telecom, airline, energy, and other customers.

Microsoft and SES will release a request for proposal (RFP) in the fourth quarter of this calendar year for the first cohort of program participants to seed this new, all-virtual ecosystem.

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