SES becomes Microsoft Azure Orbital founding connectivity partner


SES today announced it has joined as the medium Earth orbit (MEO) connectivity partner for Microsoft Azure Orbital, Microsoft’s new managed service enabling network operators to communicate and control their satellite capacity, process data, and scale their operations directly within Azure. The integration is part of a multi-year agreement between the two companies that accelerates and expands SES’s use of Azure to significantly advance the digital transformation of the company’s services and operations as part of its cloud-first strategy.

As pioneers in Microsoft’s new cloud ecosystem in space, the two companies will make joint investments in Azure Orbital ground stations that SES will deploy and manage for the MEO and Earth Observation segments. The first MEO and Earth Observation gateways will be located in Phoenix, Arizona, United States and Quincy, Western Australia respectively

In anticipation of O3b mPOWER, SES’s next-generation MEO communications system, SES and Microsoft will seamlessly co-locate several telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) systems and data ground stations with Microsoft’s Azure edge sites.

The integration of both SES and Azure networks will provide O3b mPOWER customers with “one-hop” access to their Azure cloud services. The option to route over Microsoft’s global network and inject value-added, cloud-based managed services such as enhanced security, SD-WAN, and other network functions into the service chain will mean that SES customers can enjoy improved network performance, speed-to-market, flexibility and scalability they need to capitalise on new revenue opportunities.

O3b mPOWER is SES’s next-generation MEO communications system. It is currently under construction and on track for launch in 2021. The high-throughput and low-latency satellites as well as automated and intelligence-powered ground infrastructure will deliver managed services of hundreds of Mbps up to multiple Gbps per second to customers.

Today’s agreement builds on the work started last year between the two companies, which added SES as an Azure ExpressRoute partner and SES as the first satellite operator to implement Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) using NFV technology on Azure.

“In the last 12-18 months, our focus has been to accelerate our customers’ cloud adoption plans. We are pleased to have found an ideal partner in Microsoft with its new Azure Orbital system. This agreement leverages both companies’ know-how – SES's experience in satellite infrastructure and Microsoft’s cloud expertise – and are building blocks in developing new and innovative solutions for the future,” said JP Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks. “In addition to building and managing EOS gateways for Microsoft, we are also thrilled that we will be co-locating, deploying and operating our next-generation O3b mPOWER gateways alongside Microsoft’s data centres. This one-hop connectivity to the cloud from remote sites will enable our MEO customers to enhance their cloud application performance, optimise business operations with much flexibility and agility needed to expand new markets.”

“Our launch of Azure Orbital will enable our partners’ customers to on-ramp their data into Azure where it can immediately be processed with market-leading data analytics, geospatial tools and machine learning services, adding another layer of automation and intelligence in their networks,” said Jeff Cohen, Partner Program Manager, Azure Networking at Microsoft Corp. “In addition, SES’s O3b mPOWER communications system is proof of SES’s cloud-first strategy, focusing on industry standards and orchestration, and aligns with our connectivity vision for the future, and we are delighted to be kicking off this project.”

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