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Microsoft’s new data center in a box will use SpaceX Starlink broadband

Microsoft today unveiled a modular data center that can be deployed to remote areas, as well as a partnership with SpaceX to connect those data centers to the Internet with Starlink satellite broadband. Microsoft said the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC) is “for customers who need cloud computing capabilities in hybrid or challenging environments, including remote areas” for scenarios such as “mobile command centers, humanitarian assistance, military mission needs, [and] mineral exploration.”

The MDC is “a self-contained datacenter unit” that “can operate in a wide range of climates and harsh conditions in a ruggedized, radio frequency (RF) shielded unit,” Microsoft said. It can be deployed in areas “where temperature, humidity, and even level surfaces” would normally pose a big problem.

Bringing Internet connectivity to remote areas is often a challenge, and that’s where SpaceX comes in. Microsoft is also using SES satellites as part of what it calls a “multi-orbit, multi-band, multi-vendor” approach to connectivity. MDCs will be able to use satellite service either as a backup or as the primary Internet connection.

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