SES first to enable satellite to cloud link with AWS Direct Connect

SES Networks became the first satellite service provider to achieve certification under Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Direct Connect program, putting it in prime position to serve up cloud access to customers in hard-to-reach locations.

Karl Horne, VP of cloud portfolio and strategy at SES, told Fierce that cloud services have traditionally been accessible through the internet using a VPN. But users are increasingly shifting high-value workloads to the cloud, driving the need for a more direct, higher performance connection, he added.

That’s where Direct Connect – and similar programs from Microsoft and Google – come in, requiring partners to meet certain performance requirements. Horne said companies which achieve certification typically build links directly to dozens of designated peering points across the globe to provide access to the cloud.

In SES’ case, Horne said it is using its terrestrial network to reach these and is targeting peering points in areas where one of its existing customers has a need or where it believes there will be a “reasonable amount of traffic” as companies press ahead with their cloud transformations.

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On being the first satellite provider certified for Direct Connect, Horne said “I think everybody’s recognizing the digital transformation is more powerful if 100% of land user communities have access to the workloads and the applications that are being deployed. And so satellite is turning out to be a pretty key part of how you get that ubiquitous coverage in the cloud applications.”

“For us to be aligned with AWS, especially with their new aero and space team, I think for us it means that we can start really building a pretty meaningful partnership with AWS in terms of how they can reach all these different end user communities in a way that will be compliant to what the connections need to look like for the applications to work,” he continued.

Specifically, Horne said satellite can help “reach places that other technologies can’t do or can’t do well.” That means serving customers that “fly or float,” as well as utility, industrial, military, government and NGO customers in remote land locations.

He touted SES’s multi-orbit network of 50 geostationary (GEO) and 20 medium earth orbit (MEO) birds as a strength, stating this gives customers the ability to optimize service based on their performance needs. Horne noted it is planning to expand its GEO network through a launch later this year, and will soon upgrade its MEO constellation with next-generation satellites capable of delivering greater, more “steerable” capacity.

The first three advanced MEO satellites are set to launch later this year, with another three scheduled to go up in early 2022.