Microsoft develops a portable, box-shaped data center to bring the cloud to remote areas
Through the power of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service
In context: Microsoft believes cloud computing is the future, and it might be right. However, if that’s the case, the company will need a much better way to deliver those services to those in remote areas. Those areas might lack existing cloud infrastructure, or they might have limited access to the internet — in either case, Microsoft already has a plan to tackle the dilemma
Microsoft has developed what it calls the Azure Modular Datacenter, or the MDC. It’s a modular, portable data center that can extend satellite range anywhere in the world, thanks to close integration with Elon Musk’s satellite broadband service. Microsoft hopes to work together with Musk’s SpaceX to further “link up” Starlink and Azure, though it remains to be seen what the fruits of that partnership might look like down the line.
Microsoft lists several potential use cases for the MDC, including “mobile command centers,” mineral exploration, humanitarian assistance missions, and anything else that requires “high intensity, secure computing” on Azure.
Microsoft promises full security with the MDC, from both physical dangers, such as adverse weather, high temperatures, and humidity, as well as less-obvious risks like radio frequencies.
“The MDC can give customers a path to migrate apps to Azure while still running these workloads on-premises with low-latency connections to their own datacenter,” writes Microsoft’s Bill Karagounis in a blog post. “This provides a stepping stone for transforming workloads to the Azure API with the option of continuing to run these apps on-premises, or in public or sovereign clouds.”
Microsoft says the MDC stands apart from other cloud solutions due to its ability to let customers access it with full, limited, or zero access to a network. “This is a unique, powerful capability that allows customers to access the power of the Azure cloud on their terms,” says Karagounis.
MDCs are now available for use with “defense and private sector organizations.” On the off chance that you happen to be a decision-maker at such an organization, you can contact the company to find out more information on how you might go about getting your hands on one of the units.