Hybrid Cloud – take the ExpressRoute to extending your VPN into the Microsoft Azure Cloud

  Straight from the blog of Ed Baker, Microsoft Technical Evangelist.

One of the traditional impediments to businesses adopting public cloud computing is the concern over putting all your eggs in one basket. The Hybrid cloud is the solution to this.

The Hybrid cloud is a description of utilising a pre-existing on-premises datacentre and a cloud solution such as Microsoft Azure to balance the overall solution.

The last two days at Enstone with the Lotus F1 team have been an excellent introduction for a packed audience into the way to use System Center to manage your on-premises datacentre (or private cloud) and to start using Microsoft Azure to develop your Hybrid Cloud.

Embedded image permalinkMichael Taylor, Chief Information Officer of Lotus F1, takes the stage at our #UKITCamp - "We keep business critical in house but push everything else out to the cloud."

Michael Taylor, CIO of Lotus F1 (above) gave an excellent introduction to both days. He explained that Lotus keep all business critical and confidential data in their own data centres. Lotus then use Office 365 and Microsoft Azure to host their email and other less critical services in the Cloud – Forming a true Hybrid Cloud solution.

Often networking and connectivity is seen as another impediment to connecting these two discrete elements and yet maintaining security. The recent Heartbleed OpenSSL issue although not directly affecting the Azure platform does highlight the need for vigilance and the security of the connectivity in a modern, robust Cloud solution. Essentially businesses want Azure in their network.

 Yesterday Microsoft announced the ExpressRoute partnership programme and introduced BT and Equinix as the first partners to provide the solution in the UK and EMEA. The BT announcement is here and the Equinix one is here and the Microsoft Azure blog covers it well here.

So ExpressRoute – what is that?
hybrid1First and foremost ExpressRoute provides a private dedicated connection between Azure and the customer datacentre, no reliance on a shared internet infrastructure to reach your apps, services and data.

Within this you can now choose the network performance you want or need (or can afford), this will allow you to design your Apps better and meet QoS and SLA requirements.

How fast do you say?   – Well up to 10Gbps – is that fast enough! If you have large amounts of data to move between your datacentre and Azure or vice versa then this is a great, fast and economically sound option.

So it is fast but what can I use it for?
ExpressRoute is designed to cater for mission critical workloads such as

  • Storage (Migration, DR, retention archives)
  • Dev/Test (large VM movements from Dev / Test / Production environments)
  • BI and Big Data (Efficient transfer of large data sets to increase ‘Big Data’ performance)
  • Media (solid and predictable performance for streaming data to or from Azure)
  • Hybrid Apps (the mix of High Bandwidth and Low Latency links create a great environment for Azure to be used as a datacentre extension for multi tier apps  – improved I/O and API response times.)
  • Productivity Apps (Sharepoint as an example requires high bandwidth and low latency to work at scale)

There are three routes into Azure as shown below.

Express route provides a dedicated private route in one of two flavours an Exchange provider or Network Service provider route. The former provides a simple point to point solution while the latter exposes Azure as an additional site in the corporate network.


Any regular reader of this blog will know that the I openly declare that the future is PowerShell and ExpressRoute is no different there are specific ExpressRoute Commandlets.


Microsoft provide ExpressRoute pricing for the access and bandwidth as well as throughput and your network provider will add their charges on top of this.

To keep up to date with ExpressRoute and all the changes and developments within Microsoft Azure bookmark the Azure Page and the Azure Blog

The only question left for me is why wouldn’t you adopt this economically viable, flexible and fast solution to the Hybrid Cloud solution – Bring Azure into your network.

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