On 22 September, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the preview of Azure Orbital at Microsoft Ignite 2020 in New Orleans. According to Microsoft, Orbital is ‘Ground Station as a Service (GSaaS)’, which is aimed at helping its customers to communicate with, and analyze data from, their satellites or spacecraft on a subscription basis.
Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and founder of Greyhound Research, concurs that the timing of this space move is right since many organizations are now beginning to try new use-cases by tapping into geospatial data (data related to a specific location on earth) that is omnipresent, given the proliferation of devices and edge computing devices.
“Managing data and understanding it as speed and scale has been an expensive and cumbersome exercise for Satellite Ground Stations. As the cost of sending satellites to space comes down, it’s only expected that more satellites will be used by organizations that can benefit from geospatial data. While these companies are typically focused and experts at managing satellites, they don’t have the in-house capability to handle this data and speed and scale. Hence, offerings like Azure Orbital are a great fit since they also allow the ability to centralize data management and use the more new-age AI and ML techniques to make the most of this data.
While it may be hard to draw a direct correlation between geospatial data to revenue improvements, many new-age technology incumbents, especially in the sharing economy, have tremendously benefited in terms of revenue by actively analyzing and using in real-time geospatial data. While many these organizations are currently exploring using statistical data and unstructured data, it is also important to note that it’s beginning to dawn upon many the need to offer specialized treatment to geospatial data that offers unique insights space-time context.”
“This space is increasingly getting busy with the likes of Microsoft, AWS, and IBM investing money and resources to cater to this opportunity,” notes Gogia. He cautions, however: “We believe the trick in making such an offering successful is to ensure that it is cheap to start with, since most of these projects are nothing more than trials and, hence, have an extremely high failure rate.”
Greyhound Research believes offerings such as ground stations will be highly valuable in the next wave of investments in more distributed computing environments. “More than 7 in 10 of our end-user inquiries with global majors have confirmed that organizations, in the next 3-5 years, will use a large variety of computing environments and make them more contextual to the use-case,” says Gogia. “This change is likely to be paced multiple times, given the investments in edge networks and 5G that allow remote sites in utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, and many other scenarios,” he adds.HT Mint
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