September 14, 2022

ST Engineering iDirect and Microsoft Azure Achieve Important Milestone to Virtualize Satellite Modem in Microsoft Azure Cloud

Last year ST Engineering iDirect and Microsoft Azure entered a strategic partnership to drive the adoption of virtualization and cloud to enable the digital transformation of the ground segment.

Over the last months we have been working on the first phase in the development of a virtualized modem that can be deployed on a Microsoft Azure based cloud solution.

To see the demo in action, check out this video, and hear from Sean Yarborough, ST Engineering iDirect’s VP of Product Management, and Paul Tilghman, Sr. Director of Spectrum Technologies with Microsoft Azure Space, on the strategic importance of this milestone.

Today, we are excited to announce the successful demonstration of this important milestone in our Proof of Concept: The demodulation capability of an iDirect virtualized high-speed SCPC modem running as containerized software on a COTS server located in the Azure Cloud. It is also the first time we are demonstrating how this virtualized modem is receiving high-speed traffic via a digital interface instead of the traditional analog L-band interface, furthering our innovation with the DIFI standard. DIFI stands for Digital IF Interoperability consortium and is an independent space industry group of which Microsoft Azure and ST Engineering iDirect are part of formed to advance interoperability in satellite and ground system networks.

Our joint development partnership is aligned with our phased approach in enabling our satcom solutions on the Microsoft Azure platform. Already, we have migrated our network management system to the cloud, and now have successfully demonstrated the first milestone towards fully virtualizing our remote modem. Next, we plan to migrate our network processing functions and lastly baseband processing functions to the cloud.

Why is this milestone important?

We believe that the next generation of satellite communication systems will demand fundamental cloud elasticity driving us to innovate as never before.

Through this collaboration and partnership with Microsoft Azure Space we are focused on simplifying and empowering the satellite communications industry, bringing us one step closer towards virtualization and enabling our customers to build multi-orbit strategies on a cloud-based, multi-access technology platform.

Cloud deployment allows satellite service providers to build out large scale networks in less time and with less capex-investment, enabling faster, more cost-effective scale. Cloudification also allows for a distributed, more reliable architecture with access to greater security, proven management tools, streamlined operations, and less dependence on hardware supply chains.

Ultimately, through our partnership with Microsoft Azure, our customers’ end users will be able to add satellite connectivity access capability on the same hardware they are already using for their Azure-based edge compute applications through a digital marketplace.

We believe that this transformation of the economics, engagement models, and technologies for the satellite industry will rapidly expand the accessibility of satellite communications around the world.

To Learn more: Watch CNBC Reporter Michael Sheetz’s exclusive interview with Frederik Simoens, ST Engineering iDirect, CTO and Steve Kitay, Sr. Director Azure Space, Microsoft Azure at World Satellite Business Week 2022.