Microsoft shows mobile Azure data center with satellite connectivity via Starlink

Microsoft has shown a ‘modular’ data center that must be deployable in remote locations. To this end, the company works together with SpaceX, among others. That gives Microsoft access to its Starlink satellite network.

The Azure Modular Datacenter is built in a kind of container. The data center is already used by ‘private and defense organizations’. Such MDCs can be deployed in remote locations, according to Microsoft. The data centers are suitable for operation in “a wide variety of climates and harsh conditions,” the company claims. Microsoft customers say they can use the data center with a full network connection, for example via fiber optic connections or ‘networks with low bandwidths’.

Network connectivity can also be provided in places that are normally off-grid. According to Microsoft, this is done with a ‘satellites add-on’. The company works with, among others, SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company. In the future, Microsoft will have access to the Starlink satellite network via SpaceX, the company writes. Microsoft is already working with European satellite company SES to connect its data center regions and cloud edge devices.

The Azure Modular Datacenter. Images via Microsoft

The announcement of the MDC coincides with the introduction of Azure Space, a cloud division of Microsoft that will, among other things, offer services to the space industry. In addition to the MDC, Microsoft also mentions an Azure Orbital Emulator. This is an emulation environment used to perform large-scale simulations of satellite constellations.

According to Microsoft, satellite builders can train and evaluate algorithms and satellite networks, among other things, without actually having to launch satellites. The company states that Azure can simulate entire satellite networks, including scene generation based on pre-collected satellite images. The Orbital Emulator is already being used by ‘customers in the Azure Government environment’, according to Microsoft.

Image via Microsoft