The cloud, an absolute godsend

It is often said that data is the black gold of the 21st century. And what applies to data on Earth also applies in space. As Elon Musk rolls out Starlink, and the European Space Agency fine tunes Galileo, organizations in the digital sector must rise to the new challenge of managing an ever-growing mountain of earth observation data generated by an increasingly dense satellite network. We play a particularly important role given that extracting greater value from data has become a top economic and environmental priority.


A two-fold question arose as to how we could extract the essence of this data while guaranteeing continuous and secure access. We needed “scalable” infrastructure with a large storage capacity and extraordinary computing power to process, transform and extract value from data, while ensuring optimum data security. Cloud computing was the solution to all of these challenges.

As firm believers in the cloud’s capabilities, we proudly took on the challenge of helping the French Space Agency (CNES) overhaul its large-scale storage infrastructure to derive maximum value from its data. To meet this challenge, we led an industrial consortium involving HPE, Scality and Tealenium. As both architects and custom tailors, we leveraged our expertise in large-scale data processing, cloud-based managed services and cybersecurity.

The consortium built a data lake, a cloud-native storage solution providing all users with simple, quick and secure access to over 100 petabytes of data (there are approximately 1,000 terabytes in a petabyte). The data lake showcases our security-by-design expertise, as it was designed to be foundationally secure, and will evolve throughout its life cycle.

We wanted to ensure the tool was scalable so the CNES could develop new services, such as data visualization, sharing and correlation, measurement tools—the possibilities are almost endless.

Believe it or not, the CNES has begun analyzing satellite data to help CMA CGM determine optimal routes for its container ships. Satellite imagery could also be used to anticipate rail maintenance needs.

Space is playing an increasingly important role in our lives. In Europe, its importance is reflected in our involvement in the project to migrate Sentinel-1 and 2 data to the cloud as part of Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation program.

The main challenge we now face is to collectively build a trustworthy and innovative ecosystem around the ground segments. New customer needs, uses and applications will accelerate the digital transformation of the space segment. The possibilities are endless—and it’s only the beginning of the adventure.


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Etienne Bonhomme
Etienne Bonhomme

As Director of Cloud Activities for Orange Business France, I support the cloud transformation of our B2B customers in France.