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Connectivity has gone through a fundamental shift as more workloads and services have moved to the Cloud. Traditional enterprise Wide Area Networks (WAN) have been fixed in nature, without the ability to dynamically scale to meet modern customer demands. For customers seeking to increasingly apply a cloud-first approach as the basis for their app and networking strategy, hybrid cloud enables applications and services to be deployed cross-premises as a fully connected and seamless architecture. The connectivity across premises is moving to utilize a more cloud-first model, with services offered by global hyper-scale networks.

Microsoft global network

Microsoft operates one of the  largest networks on the globe  spanning over 130,000 miles of terrestrial and subsea fiber cable systems across 6 continents. Besides Azure, the global network powers all our cloud services, including Bing, Office 365 and Xbox. The network carries more than 30 billion packets per second at any one time and is accessible for peering, private connectivity and application content delivery through our more than 160 global network PoPs. Microsoft continuously add new network PoPs to optimize the experience for our customers accessing Microsoft services.

Microsoft's Global network map

The global network is built and operated using intelligent software-defined traffic engineering technologies, that allow Microsoft to dynamically select optimal paths and route around network faults and congestion scenarios in near real-time. The network has multiple redundant paths to ensure maximum uptime and reliability when powering mission-critical workloads for our customers.

Microsoft's Point of Presence (PoP) with connectivity services

ExpressRoute overview

Azure ExpressRoute provides enterprises with a service that bypasses the Internet to securely and privately connect to Azure and to create their own global network. A common scenario is for enterprises to use ExpressRoute to access their Azure virtual networks (VNets) containing their own private IP addresses. This allows Azure to become a seamless hybrid extension of their on-premises networks. Another scenario includes using ExpressRoute to access public services over a private connection such as Azure Storage or Azure SQL. Traffic for ExpressRoute enters the Microsoft network at our networking Points of Presence (or PoPs) strategically distributed across the world, which are hosted in carrier-neutral facilities to provide customers options when picking a carrier or Telco partner.

ExpressRoute provides three different SKUs of ExpressRoute circuits:

  • ExpressRoute Local: Available at ExpressRoute sites physically close to an Azure region and can be used only to access the local Azure region. Because the traffic stays in the regional network and does not traverse the global network, the ExpressRoute Local traffic has no egress charge.
  • ExpressRoute Standard: Provides connectivity to any Azure region with in the same geopolitical region as the ExpressRoute site from London to West Europe, for example.
  • ExpressRoute Premium: Provides connectivity to any Azure region within the cloud environment. For example, an ExpressRoute Premium circuit at the New Zealand site can access Azure regions in Australia or other geographies from Europe or North America.

In addition to using the more than 200 ExpressRoute partners to connect for ExpressRoute, enterprises can directly connect to ExpressRoute routers with the ExpressRoute Direct option, at either 10G or 100G physical interfaces. Within ExpressRoute Direct, enterprises can divide up this physical port into multiple ExpressRoute circuits to serve different business units and use cases.

Many customers want to take further advantage of their existing architecture and ExpressRoute connections to provide connectivity between their on-premises sites or data centers. Enabling site-to-site connectivity across our global network is now very easy. When Azure introduced ExpressRoute Global Reach, as the first in public cloud, we provided a sleek and simple way to take full advantage of our global backbone assets. 

ExpressRoute Global Reach

With ExpressRoute Global Reach, we are democratizing connectivity, allowing enterprises to build cloud based virtual global backbones by using ExpressRoute and Microsoft’s global network. ExpressRoute Global Reach enables connectivity from on-premises to on-premises fully routed privately within the Microsoft global backbone. This capability can be a backup to existing network infrastructure, or it can be the primary means to serve enterprise Wide Area Network (WAN) needs. Microsoft takes care of redundancy, the larger global infrastructure investments, and the scale out requirements, allowing customers to focus on their core mission. 

ExpressRoute Global Reach Map

Consider Contoso, a multi-national company headquartered in Dallas, Texas with global offices in London and Tokyo. These three main locations also serve as major connectivity hubs for branch offices and on-premises datacenters. Utilizing a local last-mile carrier, Contoso invests in redundant paths to meet at the ExpressRoute sites in these same locations. After establishing the physical connectivity, Contoso stands up their ExpressRoute connectivity through a local provider or via ExpressRoute Direct and starts advertising routes via the industry standard, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Contoso can now connect all these sites together and opt to enable Global Reach, which will take the on-premises routes and advertise them to the peered circuit in the remote locations, enabling cross-premises connectivity. Contoso has now created a cloud-based Wide Area Network and all within minutes. Effectively end-to-end global connectivity without long-haul investments and fixed contracts.

Modernizing the network and applying the cloud-first model help customers scale with their needs, while at the same time take full advantage and build onto their existing cloud infrastructure. As on-premises sites and branches emerge or change, global connectivity should be as easy as a click of a button. ExpressRoute Global Reach enables companies to provide best in class connectivity on one of the most comprehensive software-defined networks on the planet.

ExpressRoute Global Reach is generally available in these locations, including Azure US Government.

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