Space

Microsoft continues expanding Azure Space

PARIS — Microsoft is continuing to expand its role in the space sector on multiple fronts with a strategy built around partnerships.

Microsoft announced plans Sept. 14 to begin offering private previews of Azure Orbital Cloud Access, a product that integrates satellites and terrestrial communications, and promises global cloud access with low latency.

“That essentially gives people the opportunity to get constant access in more of a turnkey kind of way,” Jason Zander, Microsoft Strategic Missions and Technologies executive vice president, said at the World Satellite Business Week conference here.

In addition, the tech giant’s Azure Orbital Ground Station, which was previously available only for private previews, is now “generally available and ready to go,” Zander said.

Partnerships are a key piece of Microsoft’s Azure Space strategy.

“We believe in the power of the ecosystem,” Zander said.

Azure Orbital partners include Airbus, Amergint, Ball Aerospace, blackshark.ai, Esri, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, iDirect, Intelsat, Kratos, KSAT, Loft Orbital, Nokia, Omnispace, Orbital Insight, SES, SkyWatch, SpaceX, Thales Alenia Space, US Electrodynamics, Viasat and Xplore.

In Paris, Microsoft executives were meeting with additional companies, more potential partners in the firm’s campaign to connect the Azure cloud with “a backbone of programmable connectivity” available anytime, anywhere on Earth, Zander said.

Satellite communications is an essential element of that backbone, Zander said. “Any cloud today that wants to be a hyperscaler going forward, must have a satellite solution,” he added.

In a subtle reference to AWS Ground Stations, Blue Origin and Project Kuiper, Zander said, “other hyperscalers are going to go build and launch their own satellites. They’re going to do the vertical stack.”

In contrast, Microsoft, after making big investments in fiber networks, software and data centers, does not intend to invest in its own satellites, Zander said.

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