When businesses are evaluating cloud services from different vendors, one of the key points is how you can integrate your existing investment in on-premise infrastructure with the cloud. The vast majority of organizations are running their business critical applications using their own on-premise infrastructure.

Related: Introducing Windows Azure Backup

However, the cloud has become a viable platform for extending your infrastructure into the cloud for web application scalability, temporary services, cloud storage, and disaster recovery. Integrating these cloud services with your on-premise infrastructure can provide your organization with flexibility and computing power that it didn't have before. The problem is often the last mile—the bridge between your on-premise network and the services offered by the cloud provider.

Fast, Low-Latency Network Connections

Windows Azure ExpressRoute enables enterprises extend their private networks to Windows Azure using fast, low-latency network connections. ExpressRoute enables you to establish dedicated, private, high-throughput network connectivity between your on-premises IT infrastructure and Windows Azure. ExpressRoute leverages the network services offered by telecommunications partners like Level 3, AT&T, and Equinix to extend your existing networks to the Microsoft's Windows Azure infrastructure without having to route your private network traffic over the public Internet.

To take advantage of Windows Azure ExpressRoute, you can aggregate your network traffic over Equinox datacenters or you can add Azure services to your AT&T MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) VPN. Level 3 allows you to choose either an aggregated connection or the use of an MPLS VPN. Windows Azure's web management interface's CREATE A VIRTUAL NETWORK site-to-site configuration options. ExpressRoute enables virtual machine (VM) and storage on Windows Azure to be used like it was a part of your organization's internal resources. 

ExpressRoute in Preview Mode

Windows Azure ExpressRoute is currently in preview mode. ExpressRoute via an Exchange Provider is charged based on a monthly dual-port fee. Inbound data transfer is free of charge outbound data transfer is charges based on the connection speed and the amount of outbound data ranging from $300 per month for a 1GB connection and $5,000 per month for a 10GB connection.

You can find more information about Windows Azure Express Route on the Microsoft's Windows Azure site. You can read the Azure ExpressRoute announcement on the Windows Azure blog plus you can find an example of how you configure ExressRoute on ScottGu's Blog.