The Microsoft Azure cloud service plans by Microsoft are well underway, and the company just announced a new step forward in its mission to go beyond Earth.The company says that Azure Orbital Cloud Access is a “step toward the future of integrated 5G and satellite communications” and is part of the latest announcement (opens in new tab).
The low-latency cloud access, which works with SpaceX’s Starlink, is meant to be available “anywhere on the planet.” This will be especially helpful for businesses outside of major cities, where standard cellular signal is weak.
Microsoft Azure Orbital Cloud
As part of the news, Microsoft said that Azure Orbital Ground Station, which is a fully-managed ground station-as-a-service, is now available to everyone.
Microsoft said in a statement, “We are bringing together a deep integration of ground station partner networks to make it possible for our customers to send their data to an Azure region of their choice for free.” This will lower their total operational costs and make sure that the data is available in the customer’s Azure tenant for further processing.
On September 14, 2022, “all satellite operators” like Pixxel, Muon Space, and Loft Orbital could use the ground station.
The company’s Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) network partner for Microsoft Azure, SES, also made some more announcements.
They will work with Microsoft to make a virtualized satellite communications ground network, which they say will be the first of its kind in the world.
Some of the main things that will help the joint venture grow software-defined hubs, customer edge terminals, new virtual network functions, and edge cloud apps.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that wants to expand its cloud-based operations beyond the physical clouds.
An article from The Register says that AWS is the market leader because it has its own Aerospace and Satellite programme. Google is in second place because it made a deal with SpaceX last year (opens in new tab).
For now, Azure Government customers are the only ones who can use the preview of Azure Orbital Cloud Access. However, it does show what could be available to consumers in the coming years.
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Microsoft Azure for Operators
Microsoft, like many other big IT companies, sees the mobile industry’s use of cloud and edge technologies in the 5G era as a huge opportunity and has made many of its cloud technologies better to help with this change.
It says that Azure for Operators is an open, interoperable ecosystem of technologies that lets operators virtualize workloads in the cloud to build more advanced, scalable, and cost-efficient network infrastructure that can make the most of 5G.
Microsoft will give Network Cloud to any operator who wants it, combining it with Azure features like security, analytics, AI, and machine learning so that operator customers can move all of their workloads to a single cloud platform.
The company has also announced a private preview of Azure Operator 5G core and a public preview of Azure 5G Private 5G core. These will help operators build core layers that can support the most innovative 5G apps.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is building on the success of Azure Private MEC, which released last June, by releasing Azure public MEC. This will allow operators to process data closer to where it collected, reducing latency and opening the door to new types of applications that bring in different kinds of revenue.