Microsoft Azure Partner Community: focus on Networking – ExpressRoute

by Jonathan Gardner
US Partner Technology Strategist for Microsoft Azure

The Microsoft Azure Partner Community is led by National Partner Technology Strategists from the Microsoft US Partner Team. Partner Community activities include blog posts, discussions on Yammer, newsletters, and community calls.

This is part 2 of our Microsoft Azure Networking series. Read part 1 here, and take a look at our “Future in the Cloud” blog post here.

Connecting to Azure with ExpressRoute

I hope you had a great holiday season, and are ready to get back into the swing of things! In part 1 of this month’s Azure Partner Community blog series, Nick Johnson introduced the topic of networking in Microsoft Azure, and discussed the ability to create a VPN tunnel to Azure. While this will satisfy the needs of many customers, other customers have a dedicated connection between their current datacenter and their corporate network, and require secure connectivity to their environments. This is where ExpressRoute fits in. In this post, I will explain what ExpressRoute is, basics about how it works, its importance to partners, your opportunity, and how to get started.

ExpressRoute provides a direct, private connection to Azure. Customers that have their current datacenter as part of their MPLS network can extend that same private connection to Azure, although this is not limited to customers with a current MPLS network. Traffic between the customer’s network and Azure never crosses a public network. Customers that use ExpressRoute can host applications or virtual machines in Azure that are only accessible from their private corporate network. Another use case for ExpressRoute is for Storage, Backup and Recovery. ExpressRoute creates a fast, reliable connection that is ideal for the large data transfers used in these kinds of operations.  

Traffic to both Azure Compute, or IaaS, and Platform services both flow through the dedicated connection, as illustrated below. image

The Connectivity Provider Infrastructure is separated into two groups, Exchange Providers and Network Service Providers.

  • Exchange Providers are cloud Exchange service providers like Equinix, TeleCity group, and point-to-point connectivity service providers like Level 3.
  • ExpressRoute connections through Network Service Providers are handled through Telcos like AT&T, Verizon, British Telecom, Level 3, IPVPN, and SingTel.

Both connections provide layer 3 connectivity. The main difference between the connection types is speed and management. With Exchange Providers, the routing and network management is the responsibility of the customer. With Network Service Providers, connections are managed by the provider. See the table below for information about the differences, and refer to the ExpressRoute Technical Overview on MSDN for more details.

Properties Connectivity through Network Service Providers Connectivity through Exchange Providers
Supported service providers AT&T, Level 3, Verizon, British Telecom, SingTel, Orange, IIJ, Tata Communications, Telstra Colt, Equinix, Level 3, TeleCity Group
Supported bandwidth options 10 Mbps, 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 1 Gbps 200 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 1Gbps, 10Gbps
Pricing Pricing details Pricing details
Routing Managed by the network service provider Customer managed
High availability Network service provider offers redundant connectivity in the same location Customer must establish a pair of cross connects through the exchange provider

Partner opportunity

One of the most common objections we hear about the cloud is security. With ExpressRoute, the connection to Azure is private, and the threat of data being transmitted over the public internet can be eliminated. Partners can architect solutions for customers that have secure internal applications that cannot be exposed to the internet.  

Partners will need to understand these different connectivity options in order to meet the needs of their customers and establish themselves as trusted advisors. ExpressRoute is one of the many ways to achieve connectivity to the Azure network. As with many of the Azure offerings we have covered on the various Azure Partner Community blog series, partners can deliver project-based services for architecting and implementation.    

There is also partner opportunity for managed services around the Exchange Providers implementations of ExpressRoute. A partner could offer services around regular review and testing of high availability, bandwidth requirements, connectivity monitoring, and other aspects of the implementation. 

For more information about the profitability of project-based services and managed services, read our blog post, “Your Future in the Cloud—Why Make the Move?” and download the IDC Successful Cloud Partners ebook.

Special offer – try ExpressRoute free of charge

Through June 30, try out the Azure ExpressRoute 10Mbps Network Service Provider (NSP) offering free of charge.  Get the details.

Getting started

The ExpressRoute documentation site links you to tutorials and guides, and the three videos below provide additional step-by-step guidance, how-to, and explanations.

Video – ExpressRoute overview

Video – Extending Your Network to Microsoft Azure Using ExpressRoute

Video – Designing Networking and Hybrid Connectivity Infrastructure


Join the US Azure Partner Community

Thanks for exploring the topic of networking on Azure with us in the US Azure Partner community. Register for our community call on January 15 at 9:00AM Pacific Time. Guest speakers from Microsoft Consulting will join us to discuss networking and offer tips and tricks from their experiences with Azure.


Comments (23)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to part 2 of this month’s Azure Partner Community blog series. Read Part 1 Register for the September

  2. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to part 2 of this month’s Azure Partner Community blog series. Read Part 1 Register for the September

  3. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to part 2 of this month’s Azure Partner Community blog series. Read Part 1 Register for the September

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