The interior of an Equinix data center. Box uses Equinix facilities in California to host its primary infrastructure. (Photo: Equinix)

The interior of an Equinix data center. Box uses Equinix facilities in California to host its primary infrastructure. (Photo: Equinix)

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Goes Global via 16 Equinix Data Centers

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Equinix is again boosting its ability to connect enterprises directly to cloud. Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute will be available in 16 markets globally via Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers. For Microsoft, this makes Azure more competitive with AWS on the use of direct connections for private clouds.

Similar to Amazon’s Direct Connect, Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute lets customers in multi-tenant data centers connect directly to the Azure cloud. ExpressRoute does not go over the public Internet, so it offers higher security. It also provides high throughput, reliable and lower latency connections between customer data centers and Microsoft Azure. Equinix has the jump on other providers, as it’s the first provider that will offer the service globally.

“We are witnessing a significant shift in how enterprises operate as they adopt hybrid cloud, and they are looking to effectively address performance and security concerns often associated with the cloud, while still benefiting from the flexibility it provides,” said Chris Sharp, vice president, Cloud Innovation at Equinix. “By expanding our partnership with Microsoft, we are able to offer our customers a secure, flexible and reliable connection to the Microsoft Azure cloud in 16 strategic markets around the world. Only Equinix’s global data center footprint can provide enterprises this scale and reach with Microsoft.”

Announced Last Year

Equinix and Microsoft first partnered on this in 2013. At the time, Equinix didn’t announce how many locations where the service would be rolled out, but said a “small number” of customers would participate in the initial beta testing prior to this official rollout. We now know the initial official rollout consists of 16 locations.

Equinix will enable customers to directly connect to Azure in IBX data centers across five continents including North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Additionally, customers interested in previewing the solution can now connect to ExpressRoute via Equinix London data center (LD5), in addition to data centers in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC (Ashburn). The service will become generally available in those markets later this spring, and will be rolled out in multiple metro areas in Europe, Asia-Pacific and South America throughout 2014.

For Equinix, the addition of Azure is part of a broader strategy to forge a central role in the network connections that tie together the global cloud. It boosts Microsoft’s Azure, as it exposes a huge Equinix customer base to Microsoft’s cloud. Equinix touts over 4,500 customers around the globe.

“Enterprises are drawn to hybrid cloud to benefit from cloud computing efficiencies, while maximizing their existing infrastructure,” said Steven Martin, general manager, Microsft Azure at Microsoft. “With 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies already using Microsoft Azure combined with Equinix’s global data center footprint, we look forward to working together to help customers bridge their cloud and on-premises technology to build hybrid environments with enterprise-grade control and reliability.”

Microsoft Gear in Equinix Facilities

Microsoft’s physical infrastructure for Azure ExpressRoute resides in Equinix data centers and is available via an Equinix switching fabric that provides secure connectivity and real time provisioning. Azure is commonly leveraged for key workloads that include Big Data, storage, backup and recovery, hybrid applications, productivity applications and media.

Through Equinix data centers, Microsoft benefits from over 975 networks located within the facilities, as well as has the ability to scale across Equinix’s global platform which includes more than 450 cloud and 600 IT service providers.

Equinix was founded with a mission to help companies and networks connect to one another in a single location. It has since become a powerhouse in terms of connectivity. The goal in recent years is to help customers connect with clouds directly. By offering direct connects to Azure, it helps ensure the company’s place as the king of connectivity.

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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