Microsoft turns to SES to diversify Azure connectivity, resiliency

SES Networks satellites
The O3b mPOWER constellation will initially include 11 MEO satellites with “terabit-level system capacity," SES said. (SES Networks)

Microsoft expanded its relationship with SES Networks, planning to use connectivity provided by the latter’s satellites to boost network diversity and resiliency at its Azure Network locations.

The announcement marks the latest milestone in SES and Microsoft’s relationship. In September 2019, SES achieved status as an Azure ExpressRoute service partner, allowing the satellite company to offer private connectivity options for Azure customers. The following year, SES signed on as a partner and customer of Microsoft’s Azure Orbital service. As part of that deal, it agreed to provide internet connectivity for Orbital users and decided to co-locate and operate four ground stations with Azure data centers.

This time around, though, Microsoft is the customer.

William Chappell, Microsoft’s VP of Azure Global, said in a statement SES’ network will allow it to provide “greater resiliency and comprehensive satellite connectivity solutions for our customers.” He added “our collaboration with SES is key to delivering on our vision of multi-orbit, cloud-enabled capability to meet critical industry needs."  

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SES said Microsoft will use its current medium earth orbit constellation to provide connectivity for the time being until its second-generation array, known as O3b mPOWER, is ready for service.

O3b mPOWER will initially include 11 MEO satellites with “terabit-level system capacity,” according to a fact sheet from SES. Coverage will stretch from 50 degrees north to 50 degrees south, blanketing 96% of the global population.

The first three O3b mPOWER satellites are set to launch in December, with two more launches currently scheduled for 2022. The constellation is expected to begin delivering service in Q3 2022.

Earlier this year, SES became the first satellite service provider to be certified as part of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Direct Connect program. It is also an IBM Cloud Direct Link partner.