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Microsoft Extends Azure ExpressRoute Service with Satellite Partners

Microsoft is working with satellite partner companies to extend Azure ExpressRoute's private Internet connections to organizations with operations in isolated regions.

The satellite partners include Intelsat, SES and Viasat, according to Microsoft's Monday announcement. Intelsat has about 50 satellites providing broadband connectivity services. SES offers ExpressRoute connections to organizations using its geostationary earth orbit (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites for broadband connections, with SES' high-throughput O3b mPOWER MEO communications system "launching in 2021." Viasat is offering Azure ExpressRoute connections via its new Direct Cloud Connect service brand to organizations using its satellite broadband services.

The aim of the partnerships is to extend broadband connectivity to organizations working in remote areas. Potential candidates to use the service might include energy (oil and gas), transportation (ships and planes), farming and defense industries, among others.

Azure ExpressRoute is a Microsoft service that enables access to private, low-latency, high-bandwidth connections to Azure services that don't travel across the public Internet. Microsoft already has various terrestrial ExpressRoute connectivity partners that support this service around the world, and is now branching out with its satellite service providers.

"ExpressRoute over satellite creates new channels and reach for satellite broadband providers, through a growing base of enterprises, organizations and public sector customers," Microsoft's announcement explained.

Microsoft is promising that organizations will get "predictable latency" with satellite connections using the Azure ExpressRoute service. In the future, low earth orbit satellite options will be available.

The Azure ExpressRoute service is based on three Azure regions around the world (for compute, networking and storage operations), plus ExpressRoute peering locations that are served by terrestrial ExpressRoute partners, according to this Microsoft document. These terrestrial "connectivity partners" are typically either managed service providers or exchange providers (Microsoft lists them all here).

ExpressRoute pricing is fairly complex, with Standard and Premium options, priced per month. The Premium plan is needed for organizations that make connections outside their particular Azure region, according to this Microsoft FAQ document.

Microsoft offers a checklist on the basics needed to use the service in this document.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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