Amazon's Cloud arm AWS enters lucrative satellite data market

November 28, 2018 10:45 AM

LAS VEGAS: With more and more satellites being launched for a variety of applications, retail giant Amazon's Cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a fully-managed network of 12 Ground Station antennas globally that will help customers process, store and analyse satellite data at a fraction of the current cost.

Using AWS Ground Station, the customers can save up to 80 per cent by paying for antenna access time on demand, and can rely on AWS Ground Station's global footprint of ground stations to downlink data when and where they need it.

"We have 19 AWS Global Infrastructure Regions and five more are coming soon. We have decided to have 12 Ground Station antennas around the world. The model remains the same as pay-per-use," AWS CEO Andy Jassy told the gathering at the company's flagship "ReInvent 2018" event here on Tuesday.

"We have customers like NASA-JPL, European Space Agency and BlueOrigin (owned by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos). They are asking us about providing a seamless experience to uplink and downlink data that currently require custom software and workflows. We are changing this scenario with AWS Ground Station," Jassy explained.

Customers and partners currently previewing the AWS Ground Station are Lockheed Martin, Digital Globe, HawkEye, Advanced Space, Open Cosmos, Black Sky, Capella Space and others.

Once customers receive satellite data at a Ground Station, they can immediately process it in an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), store it in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), apply AWS analytics and Machine Learning (ML) services to gain insights, and use Amazon's network to move the data to other regions and processing facilities.

In a recent report, BCC Research estimated that the satellite communications global market will reach nearly $7.5 billion by 2022, up from nearly $4.6 billion in 2017 -- indicating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 per cent.

There has been a significant growth in demand for commercial satellite imaging across the globe. The strategic move also positions Amazon as a major gatekeeper to satellite data.

Walter Scott, CTO of DigitalGlobe, said that AWS Ground Station will let us get data into Cloud faster.

AWS Ground Station allows customers to more easily and cost-effectively control satellite operations and integrate the data with applications and other Cloud services running in AWS.

For example, as fast-moving environmental, geopolitical or news events unfold on the ground, AWS Ground Station customers can downlink current data to any of the 12 AWS ground stations around the world.

They can then quickly combine the data with other AWS services to process and transport the data to keep up with the rapidly-evolving conditions.

Satellite data is incredibly useful for building a wide range of important applications, but it is super complex and expensive to build and operate the infrastructure needed to do so.

Charlie Bell, Senior Vice President of AWS said they are giving satellite customers the ability to dynamically scale their ground station antenna use based on actual need.

"They will be able to ingest data straight into AWS, where they can securely store, analyse, and transmit products to their customers without needing to worry about building all of the infrastructure themselves," said Bell.

AWS also announced a strategic collaboration with Lockheed Martin to integrate the new AWS Ground Station service with the global security and aerospace giant's new "Verge" antenna network.

Both Lockheed Martin "Verge" and AWS Ground Station customers can now integrate satellite data with the rich portfolio of AWS services, including compute, storage, analytic, and Machine Learning.

"Together, AWS and Lockheed Martin are providing satellite operators increased flexibility, resiliency, and scale in a complete connectivity solution, ground architecture, and Cloud environment for integrated satellite and data management operations," Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space, told the audience.

The collaboration with AWS will allow Lockheed Martin to deliver robust ground communications that will unlock new benefits for environmental research, scientific studies, security operations, and real-time news media.

"AWS and Lockheed Martin have a long, deep relationship and over the past several years it has become apparent that together we could bring greater capabilities to our public sector and commercial customers," said Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector for AWS.

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