Inmarsat adds Microsoft Azure to IoT solution

Inmarsat and Microsoft announced they will work together on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, combining Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity with the Microsoft Azure IoT Central platform.   Under the agreement, Inmarsat customers will be able to move data into Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform and Azure customers will be able to access (buy time on) Inmarsat’s global satellite network.

“This collaboration with Microsoft Azure is central to our Industrial IoT strategy and will enable our customers to access the data generated and processed by our intelligent edge IoT solutions, regardless of where their infrastructure is located,” Tara MacLachlan, Inmarsat’s VP of Industrial IoT Strategy, said. “Analyzing this data and using it to optimize operations is where the fundamental value of IoT resides, and the applications that Microsoft can deliver through Azure and IoT cloud solutions will be critical to delivering this value to our customers.”

British-based Inmarsat has a set of geostationary orbit Ka-band Global Xpress (GX) satellites, launched over the past five years to provide worldwide broadband and voice coverage to its maritime, enterprise, aviation, and government customers.  In addition, it supports L-band services with its I-4 fleet and the company plans to launch a next generation I-6 fleet to support both L-band and Ka-band on the same satellites for broadband and IoT

The collaboration between Inmarsat and Microsoft will initially focus on the delivery of Industrial IoT-based solutions to the agriculture, mining, transportation and logistics sectors, “supporting digitalization and visibility across the global supply chain,” according to the company press release.

Microsoft Azure isn’t the only option for satellite providers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made several announcements in the satellite IoT space, including working with Iridium, Fleet Space Technologies, and Hiber.  Amazon also has a partnership with Lockheed Martin to deploy a “ground station as a service” offering, integrating its AWS Ground Station service with Lockheed Martin’s forthcoming Verge antenna network.

Having clear network connectivity between satellite segment and the rest of the world is vitally important for Big Data/Analytics applications such as IoT and the steadily growing fleets of imaging satellites requiring both massive storage and processing power for working with terabytes of imagery per day.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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