SES and AWS: Assuring Continuity of Critical Operations

SES and AWS: Assuring Continuity of Critical Operations
Sergy Mummert
Sergy Mummert, SVP, Sales Global
Cloud & Strategic Partnerships 

When severe weather or natural disasters affect fiber-optic or other wired connections, satellites can resume high-bandwidth connectivity “on the pause” from space to support recovery efforts. In these situations, first responder agencies’ connectivity requirements go beyond basic broadband. When time is of the essence, cloud capabilities on the local edge significantly enhance the response effort, providing quick access to critical information and facilitating coordination on the ground.

One representative example is when Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida in late 2022, SES Space & Defense, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES serving U.S. Government customers, and SimbaCom, a system integrator, worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to establish rapid connectivity to AWS Disaster Response. The companies delivered a quick-deployment communications infrastructure that leveraged SES's global O3b satellite constellation and local edge connectivity to AWS.

In the absence of reliable ground connectivity systems due to the impact of the hurricane, the medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite solution provided fiber-like communications to state agencies, first responders, and residents in Lee County. This same connectivity enabled survivors to reach out to friends and family to let them know they are safe and/or to get assistance. It also enabled first responders to transmit information out of the impacted area so that others can use it for analysis and reporting.

Our successful collaboration stands out as a key accomplishment. Our work together is dedicated to extending cloud resources to any location even in the most challenging conditions, like the aftermath of one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit Florida in decades.

A Solid Foundation and Strong History

SES was one of the first satellite providers to become an AWS Direct Connect-over-satellite partner, ensuring AWS customers everywhere are just one hop away from their essential cloud services and applications. Additionally, SES has worked with AWS since 2021. Over time, we have broadened this collaboration to include initiatives such as support of the AWS Modular Data Center (MDC), or the joint work with SES Space & Defense focused on driving joint government projects, particularly with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Leveraging SES’s multi-orbit, multi-band global fleet of satellites with the AWS MDC, defense customers can access low-latency, cloud-based applications and services securely in Denied, Disrupted, Intermittent, and Limited (DDIL) environments through a dedicated network connection to AWS Regions. For example, warfighters can leverage SES’s multi-orbit, multi-band global satellite fleet to provide connectivity to field-deployed AWS MDC units to access critical applications and exchange mission-critical data.

The Road Ahead: Satellite + Cloud Enable Digital Transformation

Each of our markets and end customers is undergoing a digital transformation journey that requires a high-performance network. The combination of the AWS cloud and optimized, integrated SES satellite resources provide customers robust network security, reliability, and scalability.

Together, SES and AWS help customers expand their use of satellite communications for new and secure applications. For example, we have seen growth in the mobility industry, particularly for cruise and aviation customers, who utilize services such as AWS Direct Connect to serve their cloud transformation needs. Moving workloads to the cloud via a fast and reliable connection allows for greater volumes of archival data and speedier response to retrieve the data for analysis when platform issues arise.

Governments and sovereign connectivity operators worldwide also are increasing their ability to scale apace with increasing demand. Similar to enterprises, governments are going through a digital transformation journey, and space is becoming more strategic to government organizations. As a result, we have stepped up our efforts to provide them access to secure, resilient, and future-proof ‘sovereign’ connectivity.

New satellite systems are closing the gap between terrestrial and satellite performance, making satellite a key integrated part of digital infrastructure projects, especially as these projects increasingly leverage cloud hosting, cloud services, and edge computing. While satellite is not a new technology, innovations continue to emerge, allowing space and cloud to work together to deliver greater value.