Adding satellite connectivity to Microsoft’s Azure ExpressRoute
Azure’s private network now reaches to the very ends of the earth.
Extending the cloud to places that lack conventional connectivity is a problem. Think of an Azure Stack server in an oil rig or on a cruise liner, for example, or in a set of hard cases the back of a truck as part of a disaster relief response. Things get even more complicated when you consider edge processing systems, like Azure Databox Edge, where local processing pushes large data sets up to cloud systems for deeper analysis.
The demand for bandwidth isn’t going away — in fact, it’s only going to intensify. But the infrastructure isn’t available to put high-bandwidth fibre into rural locations, and laying all the necessary connections is economically prohibitive. It’s impossible to rely on universal service provisions for more than 1 or 2Mbps of ADSL over low-quality phone lines. While white spaces and other wireless technologies show promise, they’re only ways of getting data to the edge, not from the edge to the cloud.
Internet from the sky
The answer to the connectivity problem is an old one: satellite connectivity. Using a small base station, data can be transmitted via satellite to a public internet connection at a larger ground station facility. There’s no need to string miles of copper or fibre, and the base station can be either a permanent fixture or a portable device.