Countdown starts for space-based cloud storage
- By Paul McCloskey
- Jun 06, 2016
A group of Los Angeles-based tech entrepreneurs is targeting government agencies as prime candidates for SpaceBelt, a satellite-based datacenter network infrastructure that proposes to circumvent terrestrial network logjams, evade hackers and cut data security and management costs.
The startup Cloud Constellation believes SpaceBelt will be particularly useful to government agencies that want to increase the security of drone programs, protect communications with U.S. embassies and maintain ultra-secure national data repositories.
SpaceBelt’s cloud infrastructure was designed to provide secure storage and transmission of sensitive data around the world by bypassing the internet and terrestrial leased lines. The combination of Earth-orbiting satellites, a secure, private telecom backbone and space-based storage offers government agencies a way to insulate their traffic and data completely, protecting it from both natural disasters and regulatory complexities.
“The jurisdictional controls that are in place around the world today are a quagmire of difficulty,” Cloud Constellation CEO and co-founder Scott Sobhani said. “Jurisdictions are imposing restrictions on where data can go, ” he said. “Not many networks have the deep pockets to be able to support that agenda.”
With SpaceBelt, “any one of those data centers can be dedicated to a county’s national interest to store and keep their data safe,” Sobhani said.
Cloud Constellation expects to launch one or more satellites by 2018 as a platform from which to start offering secure, cloud storage infrastructure by 2019.
“The deployment of satellite-based secure storage has the potential to keep critical data out of the hands of earth-bound hackers while supporting global communications at half the latency of today's terrestrial multi-hop networks,” Mike Matchett, senior analyst and consultant at the Taneja Group, said in a statement.
SpaceBelt could improve the cost and effectiveness of many of the programs because of gains it has been able to achieve in speeding transmission signals and reducing latency associated with internet-based data transmission, Sobhani said.
To control a drone halfway across the globe today, he said, it takes about 3 seconds for a signal to go from one geospatial region to another. “That’s like driving a car down the road with the inability to see what’s ahead of you for three seconds at a time.” In contrast, SpaceBelt will be able to able to deliver stored data from its cloud to any point on Earth in about a third of second, Sobhani said.
The SpaceBelt system will also be useful in containing potential security threats to drones and their data. According to Sobhani, it can isolate the drone network and “stream the traffic across our SpaceBelt directly to your site -- not only to operate the drone faster, but store the drone video or data you’re collecting.”
U.S. embassies are also potential customers for the technology. Because they face threats to their networks, they are often forced to manage data “the old-fashioned way,” Sobhani said, “by helicoptering data around instead of sending it over an electronic signal.”
When they do “send data to their data centers back in the United States, they send it encrypted with all security keys possible,” Sobhani said. Those transmissions produce a “banner,” or publicly available header, “that shows it’s from an embassy in this country or that country -- and that makes it a target.”
“We will be eliminating that target when we have transmissions that are fully encrypted with no banner,” he added. “There’s no banner necessary if your system is closed like ours.”
SpaceBelt could also function as an Earth imaging platform, according to the firm, which believes there is a growing market for remote sensing and imaging products from Silicon Valley as well as government agencies.
Today, “you would have to buy a giant terminal to get that data to track that imagery, which is not cheap,” Sobhani said. “It may be 12 hours before you can get it depending on how many satellites you put up.”
With the SpaceBelt cloud, organizations could attach a camera or sensing device to the satellite and deliver data instantly, Sobhani said, “without having to buy a lots of ground infrastructure.”
“We've put a web around the entire web -- just for a very elite few that have the ability or need to have mission-critical sensitive data moved around the world,” he added.
Paul McCloskey is senior editor of GCN. A former editor-in-chief of both GCN and FCW, McCloskey was part of Federal Computer Week's founding editorial staff.