The Microsoft Azure Orbital has been introduced as the newest cloud computing service at the company’s Ignite conference.
Microsoft Azure Orbital connects satellites directly to the cloud computing network. It will start in a “private preview” to a certain group of Microsoft users.
CNBC reported earlier this month about Microsoft’s plans to rival the Ground Station service that is accessible through Amazon Web Services. Amazon and Microsoft are the two biggest providers of cloud infrastructure.
“With access to low-latency global fiber networks and the global scale of Microsoft’s cloud services, customers can innovate quickly with large satellite datasets,” Yves Pitsch, a principal product manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “The cloud is central to both modern communications scenarios for remote operations and the gathering, processing, and distributing the tremendous amounts of data from space,” she wrote.
The satellite companies that signed up for Azure Orbital were Amergint, Kratos, Kongsberg Satellite Services, and Viasat as partners.
Microsoft during the pandemic
In July, data showed that Microsoft’s revenue soared amid the coronavirus pandemic, exceeding the predictions of analysts for the latest quarter.
Microsoft (MSFT) posted $38 billion in revenue for the three months ended in June. This is a 13% increase from the same period in the prior year and higher than the $36.5 billion that Wall Street analysts had predicted.
The quarter’s earnings were $1.46 per share, defeating analysts’ forecast of $1.34 share.”The last five months have made it clear that tech intensity is the key to business resilience,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a release. “Organizations that build their own digital capability will recover faster and emerge from this crisis stronger.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced many people to work from home, and this has propelled the demand for Microsoft’s “intelligent cloud,” “more personal computing” and “productivity and business processes” divisions.
Investors may be concerned about slowing growth in its crucial Azure cloud business, which competes with market leader Amazon Web Services. Azure sales grew 47% during the second quarter, a slowdown from the 59% year-over-year growth it reported during the previous quarter.
Microsoft’s operating expenses rose by 13% during the quarter. It covers a $450 million charge associated with the plan the company announced last month to shut down all 83 of its brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Clouds earning growth
Earlier this year, Microsoft has reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the quarter ending in December 2019, as its cloud business continues its expansion.
Nadella said in January: “We are innovating across every layer of our differentiated technology stack and leading in key secular areas that are critical to our customers’ success.”
Microsoft’s intelligent cloud division outperformed Wall Street analysts’ forecasts by reporting a revenue of $11.9 billion during the period, driven by a 62% growth in its key Azure cloud business.
Nucleus Research analyst Andrew MacMillen pointed out that this trend should not cause concern as the cloud market becomes more highly penetrated. MacMillen said: “It’s now finally getting to a saturation point, where it’s less about who can capture more market share than who can create more use cases.”
Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment also recorded a 17% growth in the quarter, due to strong growth in Office 365 and Dynamics 365. MacMillen said that expansion may mean that the company is gaining brand recognition in the enterprise services space, where it competes with companies, such as Oracle and Salesforce.