Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, October 6, 2022

Equinix Helps Microsoft Roll Out Azure ExpressRoute Globally 

Microsoft is partnering with datacenter colocation service provider Equinix to deliver its Windows Azure ExpressRoute private network connection service to international customers.

Equinix said Azure ExpressRoute would be provided inside its co-located International Business Exchange datacenters. The agreement would allow customers to connect directly to Azure ExpressRoute hybrid cloud services in 16 countries on four continents, the partners said.

Chris Sharp, vice president of cloud innovation at Equinix, said in an interview that the partners are targeting May for general availability of the private-connection-to-public-cloud service in Washington, D.C., and California's Silicon Valley. Equnix has existing "exchange provider" agreements with Microsoft in those regions.

Steven Martin, general manager of Microsoft's Azure operations, said the deal seeks to capitalize on the shift to the hybrid cloud. “Enterprises are drawn to hybrid cloud to benefit from cloud computing efficiencies, while maximizing their existing infrastructure," Martin said in a statement. Microsoft claims 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now using Microsoft Azure via Equinix global datacenters.

The new service will be rolled out across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia throughout the rest of 2014, Sharp said. Hub cities with the highest priority are Hong Kong, London, and Singapore.

The Equinix strategy revolves around easing global cloud deployments by providing a uniform environment that facilitates rapid rollout of connections services. The hybrid cloud model allows network infrastructure to be built within a private cloud while leveraging the public cloud.

Since ExpressRoute connections bypass the public Internet, the Microsoft service is billed as providing faster speeds and greater security than standard connections. Hosted in Equinix datacenters, customers would also gain access to a large number of network service providers partnered with Equinix.

The partners said Microsoft's physical infrastructure for delivering Azure ExpressRoute service will reside in datacenters operated by Equinix. The Silicon Valley company said it can provide access to more than 975 networks around the world. Hence, the deal would allow Microsoft to scale its hybrid cloud services across a global network.

Equinix claims 4,500 customers around the world including more than 450 cloud, 975 networks, and 600 IT service providers.

The company's datacenters serve as interconnections points for customers to gain direct access to public and private cloud services. And as EnterpriseTech recently reported, the colocation services provider is just starting to rollout 100 Gb/sec Ethernet on its network backbone for customers. Azure ExpressRoute would be made available via the Equinix switching fabric that provides connectivity and provisioning.

By combining the Microsoft service with the Equinix platform the partners said they could help customers integrate cloud services with internal applications. Azure is frequently used for big data, storage, backup and recovery, hybrid applications, productivity applications, and media.

Equinix is among Microsoft's current roster of U.S. service providers hosting ExpressRoute to connect with Windows Azure. Level 3 Communications is also listed as exchange provider in the same locations. AT&T Netbond serves as a network service provider for ExpressRoute, also in Washington and Silicon Valley.

Equinix doesn't disclose its customers but Sharp said Microsoft is among its most "strategic." The company has previously worked on a similar rollout with Amazon. Among its newest enterprise customers are gaming companies that are trying to tweak their networks to handle spikes in network usage as new online games quickly attract new players.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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