One of the most important enhancements that Microsoft included in this latest wave of Azure announcements is the general availability of ExpressRoute. At this year’s TechEd 2014 in Houston, I met with Yousef Khalidi, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, to talk about ExpressRoute. ExpressRoute provides businesses with direct network connectivity to Microsoft Azure. Yousef explained that ExpressRoute enables businesses to establish private connections to Azure where their data does not need to flow over the internet. This provides better security as well as improved performance and better quality of service. ExpressRoute is implemented via networking carriers including AT&T, British Telecom, and Level 3 as well as Exchange Points like Equinix and TelecityGroup. All ExpressRoute connections to Azure have redundant network connectivity to insure maximum availability.
Yousef explained that ExpressRoute’s low latency connections can enable several scenarios like block storage access that are not possible with standard internet-based connectivity. Yousef also pointed out that one of the biggest early users of ExpressRoute was Microsoft IT itself. Microsoft IT is a demanding customer with thousands of line-of-business application that they are running over ExpressRoute. For more information about ExpressRoute you can refer to Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute.