Clouds Seemingly Don’t Get In The Way Of Satellites

Had a fascinating chat the other day with a company I really should have spoken to decades ago, but such is life.

SES is probably a company wot you think you don’t know, but – for example – anyone who’s had a Sky satellite box at any time will have been reliant on one or more of its geo communications satellites, such as the Astra family (oh, the conversations we used to have about the benefits of dual and quad LNBs over a single one, especially when the dreaded note came from Sky announcing it was moving to a new satellite in the Astra range!). SES operates a multi-orbit constellation of satellites aimed at combining global coverage and high performance (the latter not historically associated with satellite comms) with the low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system satellites providing that performance benefit, high-latency being the enemy of real-time applications especially.

Unsurprisingly therefore, the company historically partners globally with many of the leading telecomms companies, mobile network operators, broadcasters, video platform operators, content deliverers, governments… you get the picture (pun in there somewhere?). And then along came the “C” word and the Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that followed – challenge or opportunity? Both, as it turns out. Speaking with Sergy Mummert of SES, who gets up at infeasible hours of the morning in order to talk tech, clearly the partnering of the two has been an education for both parties – bad weather and satellite were never best buddies – but it makes a huge amount of sense for both sets of providers. Satellite companies need customers who are reliant on any and all forms of content delivery, CSPs need as many layers of resilience and delivery options as possible because, even in 2021, stuff still goes wrong. A satellite connection can equally function as a primary delivery mechanism, an overlay for adding bandwidth on demand and, critically, as a redundant path option. Moreover, a satellite can connect anywhere on the planet – even where the sky is blue and the primary users rub noses with penguins (no, we’re not talking Chester Zoo).

SES therefore launched its own one-hop cloud connect service earlier this year – you can read about it here:

However, where it gets interesting from a partnership perspective is in what it can offer to the big CSPs. To this end, SES already partners with Microsoft as an Azure ExpressRoute and Orbital partner, The two, in partnership with GovSat and UK-based solutions provider GRC, have just demonstrated how Microsoft Azure ML and AI (yes, those fabled TLAs!) capabilities can be brought directly to end-users, deployed globally in a secure, reliable way while maintaining network sovereignty – allowing users to exploit key Azure workloads regardless of location and boosting efficiency – finally a real use case of ML/AI! And – as part of the reason for the call with SES – the company has just joined the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect Delivery Partner program – i.e., providing the ability to connect its customers directly to their AWS services over its network of multi-orbit satellites. AWS Direct Connect establishes a dedicated network connection between an office, DC, co-location site or other on/offsite facility and AWS at speeds from 50Mbps up to 100Gbps (if your pockets are deep enough).

Regardless of performance, it means that pretty well wherever you are on the globe, you can now talk “hybrid cloud” and “cloud transformation” without feeling left out of the conversations 😊

Obviously, with reference now to the “P” word (pandemic, not penguin) and the WFH/WFA initiatives wot have sprung up from people being imprisoned in their own domains resulting in company workforces being located anywhere, the ability to deliver cloud-based applications and services reliably to those remote locations has more value than ever. The world, it seems, is shrinking relentlessly. Thought for Sky: dedicated penguin content channel?

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