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Microsoft unveils modular Azure data centre

Written by Wed 21 Oct 2020

Tech giant working with network operators to provide remote access to Azure cloud via satellite ink

Microsoft has introduced a transportable modular data centre to bring Azure access to hard to reach locations in need of cloud computing and storage.

The tech giant said the ruggedised data centre, which comes in a radio frequency shielded unit, enables cloud access even in areas where there is unreliable network availability, or where temperature, humidity, and surface levels usually pose a deployment challenge.

A satellite option enables a backup connection in the event of network disruption. Alternatively, the unit can use satellite communications as a primary connection. Microsoft said it is partnering with satellite operators to provide an option for “secure and reliable” connectivity to field-deployed units.

Potential use cases include mobile command centres, humanitarian assistance, military mission needs and mineral exploration, or other scenarios where cloud compute and storage is in high demand but security is a top priority, Microsoft said. A small number of defence and private sector organisations are currently trialling the units.

The main idea is that Azure’s cloud services can be leveraged on-premises and in an isolated fashion. Once users have made their workloads Azure-friendly they then have the choice of continuing to run these apps on-premises, or in public or private clouds.

Microsoft is also touting the modular unit as an Edge enabler if companies use it to augment existing compute and storage capabilities, unlocking low-latency high-performance applications such as real-time analytics. Or, it can be used to run cloud applications that improve critical infrastructure recovery.

The unit can run with full network connectivity, occasional connection or when fully disconnected.

“Around the world, there are significant cloud computing and storage needs in areas with adverse conditions, where low communication, disrupted network availability and limited access to specialized infrastructure would have previously prevented taking advantage of cloud computing,” said Bill Karagounis General Manager, Azure Global Industry Sovereign Solutions.

“The MDC solves this by bringing Azure to these environments, providing data centre scale compute resources closest to where they’re needed,” he added.

Written by Wed 21 Oct 2020


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