Microsoft Azure first cloud to gain orbit with O3b mPOWER

As more critical workloads move to the cloud, SES medium Earth orbit satellite system will provide additional network diversity, service resiliency and gigabit connectivity for IT giant’s leading data platform

Satellite operator SES has revealed Microsoft as the first cloud provider customer for its O3b mPOWER next-generation medium Earth orbit (MEO) system operating about 8,000km above the Earth’s surface.

SES’s current O3b and upcoming O3b mPOWER systems are designed to operate in the medium Earth orbit. The O3b mPOWER will be launched later this year and the system is set to be fully operational in 2022.

As it gains traction with customers across geographies and market segments, O3b mPOWER will offer what the operator claims will be an unprecedented increase in flexibility and throughput speed and capacity to any Microsoft Azure network locations on Earth. Microsoft plans to leverage the MEO high-performance connectivity services to showcase its Azure Orbital systems, which integrate satellite connectivity with Azure services.

Microsoft will use SES’s current MEO to provide connectivity now before migrating to O3b mPOWER next year.

Microsoft’s plans to deploy O3b mPOWER at Azure network locations is the latest step in the close collaboration between the two companies. SES is colocating four of its O3b mPOWER gateways at or near Azure datacentres; is the founding MEO satellite connectivity partner for Microsoft Azure Orbital; is an Azure ExpressRoute for satellite partner; and is the first satellite operator to implement open network automation platform using NFV technology on Azure.

“Microsoft deploying our ground-breaking O3b mPOWER system is yet another step in our collaboration to bring high-performance, low-latency Azure cloud services to customers around the globe,” said  JP Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks. “O3b mPOWER will introduce new levels of cloud-scale satellite connectivity, intelligent automation and managed services that extend the reach and unleash the capabilities of cloud players like never before.”

William Chappell, vice-president of Azure Global, Microsoft, added: “Utilising SES’s MEO system enhances the power of Azure Orbital and enables us to deliver greater resiliency and comprehensive satellite connectivity solutions for our customers. Our collaboration with SES is key to delivering on our vision of multi-orbit, cloud-enabled capability to meet critical industry needs.”

Other O3b mPOWER customers include Orange for enhanced enterprise and mobile networks, and cruise operators such as Carnival and Virgin Voyages.

In another key deployment, and as part of its blanket purchase agreement with the US government agency for MEO low-latency, high-throughput satellite services, SES announced in February 2021 that its government solutions division, SES GS, had designed, developed and is fielding an O3b MEO loopback capability to provide greatly improved mission-critical communications for US Department of Defense operations in remote locations in Southwest Asia.

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