Satellite operator SES sent out a series of press releases last week with a distinct cloud technology flavor, increasing its reliance on Microsoft Azure infrastructure a week after it launched an over-the-top video synchronization product.
SES unveiled plans to deliver media and connectivity services based on Azure to rural and underserved regions, equipping broadcasters and other enterprises with features including intelligent network automation through direct cloud connectivity – achieved through the two products Azure ExpressRoute Satellite Connectivity and Azure Broadcast-Grade Managed Video Services.
The move is a win-win, benefiting both SES and Azure customers, and could give Azure an edge over cloud computing opposition AWS. Azure-based media services can help SES execute an initiative which could prove crucial in delivering next-generation video around the globe as service providers migrate to virtualized network functions. SES has become the first partner company of the Azure ExpressRoute program to boast GEO (geostationary earth orbit) satellite and MEO (medium earth orbit) constellations, meaning SES can further the reach of Azure customers. It promises fiber-like performance through its portfolio of multi-orbit satellites, global gateway network and core terrestrial network infrastructure.
From these cloud-satellite foundations, SES says it will create a broadcast-grade managed video offering hosted on Azure – extending scale, flexibility and quality assurance throughout the video delivery chain – covering content ingest to playout to delivery. SES is also migrating its CRM platform to Microsoft Dynamics to increase productivity in a cloud-based sales and services ecosystem.
SES’s push into cloud connectivity is driven by its long term plans to adapt satellite and ground networks for the cloud era – creating software-defined environments where satellite networks will serve as an extension for global communications.
That’s the master plan anyway, for which SES sowed the seeds just a month ago when it became the world’s first satellite fleet operator to embrace the ONAP (Open Network Automation) protocol. At the time, we saw the move simply as SES reaffirming its growing commitment to mobile connectivity as the company seeks to offset the besieged video business.
Of course, there is much more to the story. The ONAP collaboration with Amdocs marks the start of an ambitious cloud virtualization project – setting the bar for the satellite community. Amdocs’ network function virtualization (NFV) technologies, hosted on Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, will allow SES to extend network functions rapidly and at scale.
On the video front, SES now reaches over 355m TV households (or 1bn people) and distributes over 8,200 channels via satellite. The recent unification of its video services subsidiary MX1 with the SES Video business unit manages over 525 channels and delivers more than 8,400 hours of online video streaming, including over 620 hours of premium sports and live events a day.