Microsoft Invests In Several Submarine Cables In Support Of Cloud Services

Microsoft is investing in several submarine cables to better connect its data centers and boost its cloud services connectivity worldwide.

Jason Verge

May 11, 2015

3 Min Read
Microsoft Invests In Several Submarine Cables In Support Of Cloud Services
Hibernia Express, a high-capacity subsea transatlantic cable, is expected to be ready for service in September 2015 (Image: Hibernia Networks)

Microsoft is investing in several submarine cables to connect data centers globally and in support of growing data network needs. The latest investments strengthen connections across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, connecting several countries.

Microsoft continues to significantly invest in subsea and terrestrial dark fiber capacity by engaging in fiber relationships worldwide. Better connectivity helps Microsoft compete on cloud costs, as well as improves reliability, performance and resiliency worldwide. The investments also spur jobs and local economies.

Microsoft deals with Hibernia Networks and Aqua Comms strengthen connectivity across the Atlantic, while the New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable Network and a first physical landing station in the US will better connect North America to Asia.

Across the Atlantic, Microsoft is investing in a cable with both Hibernia and Acqua Comms to connect Microsoft’s North American data center infrastructure to Ireland and on to the United Kingdom. Hibernia said the partnership will translate to a cost-benefit for Microsoft customers.

Hibernia Networks’ new Express cable will connect Halifax, Canada to Ballinspittle, Ireland to Brean, UK. The cable helps support Microsoft’s backbone, connecting several data centers. The Express cable pair will yield in excess of 10 Tbps per pair, which is nearly triple the 3.5 Tbps per pair delivered on the current systems.

Microsoft is the first foundation customer on Acqua Comms’ America Europe Connect (AEConnect) project, a submarine cable system being built by TE SubCom. The infrastructure will also support Microsoft’s cloud services.

Across the Pacific, the New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable Network has commenced construction. Microsoft joined the NCP consortium comprised of several major Chinese telecommunications companies. As part of its participation, Microsoft will invest in its first physical landing station in the US connecting North America to Asia.

NCP will provide better data connections between North America and Asia. The NCP will link Hillsboro, Oregon to several points on China’s mainland, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. The cable system will deliver up to 80 Tbps of capacity.

Last year, Microsoft agreed to buy capacity on a fiber optic submarine cable a company called Seaborn Networks is building between U.S. and Brazil, the first cable to connect the two countries directly. Microsoft's Brazil South availability region for its Azure cloud services launched June 2014.

Google, one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the cloud market, has also been investing in submarine cable capacity. The latest was Google’s participation in FASTER, a five-company effort to build a trans-Pacific cable system that will link major cities on the U.S. west coast to two coastal locations in Japan.

“As we look at how people and businesses will interact with technology in the future, there are investments we need to make now to support our customers and help their businesses grow,” wrote David Crowley, managing director, Network Enablement, Microsoft.

Microsoft’s latest earnings showed the Commercial Cloud division, which includes Azure, Office 365 and other services, grew over a 100 percent. As the company expands its global cloud infrastructure, a strong subsea strategy is needed to ensure high availability.

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