What is Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute?
ExpressRoute is an Azure service that lets you create private connections between Microsoft datacenters and infrastructure, whether that infrastructure is on your premises or off. And since ExpressRoute connections don’t go over the public Internet, you get higher security, reliability, and speeds with lower latencies than typical Internet connections.
With Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute you can create secure, private connections between your IT infrastructure/your local network and your:
- Microsoft cloud services like Office 365, Microsoft dynamics 365, and Microsoft Azure.
- Data warehouse
- Large cloud backup.
To help you best meet the specific needs of your organization, Microsoft offers two versions of Azure ExpressRoute. They are Azure ExpressRoute Direct and ExpressRoute Global Reach:
Azure ExpressRoute Direct
With ExpressRoute Direct, you connect directly to the Microsoft global network. Dedicated dual capacity is available in 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps. ExpressRoute Direct provides you with massive data ingestion into services like Cosmos DB, physical isolation for regulated industries, and granular control of circuit distribution by business unit.
ExpressRoute Direct provides the same enterprise-grade SLA (99.9% availability SLA across the entire connection) with Active/Active redundant connections into the Microsoft Global Network. ExpressRoute infrastructure is redundant and connectivity into the Microsoft Global Network is redundant and diverse and scales correctly with customer requirements.
Azure ExpressRoute Global Reach
ExpressRoute Global Reach takes ExpressRoute direct to the next level. It’s designed to complement your service provider’s WAN implementation and connect your branch offices across the world. With Global Reach, you can link ExpressRoute circuits together to make a private network between your on-premises networks.
If you have multiple circuits linking your locations to Microsoft, your organization could benefit from establishing Global Reach connections that allow these locations to exchange data directly.
How Does Microsoft ExpressRoute Work?
Azure ExpressRoute offers Layer3 connectivity while establishing connectivity between the Microsoft Cloud and your on-premise network via a connectivity provider.
Connectivity can be from an any-to-any (IP VPN) network, a point-to-point Ethernet network, or a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a colocation facility. ExpressRoute works on worldwide data center locations and regions, and it uses ExpressRoute partners like Neovera to transmit data through physical connections provided by a circuit established using a private wire and not the public internet.
Using ExpressRoute, you’ll connect your on-premise network to the edge routers. This router works as an entry point for the Microsoft Cloud. (In the context of ExpressRoute, the edge route is the ExpressRoute circuit’s point of entry into Microsoft’s network.) The data that’s transferred isn’t encrypted; connections happen through the universal networking or a point-to-point Ethernet connection via a network connectivity provider to the data center.
ExpressRoute uses dynamic routing between the on-premise network and Microsoft Azure Cloud via Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), the industry standard protocol for routing). This enables your users to access Microsoft Azure Services and Microsoft 365 Services.
An ExpressRoute circuit represents a logical connection between your on-premises infrastructure and Microsoft cloud service. The circuits connect your on-premises infrastructure to Microsoft through a connectivity provider and deployed with either a connectivity provider or ExpressRoute Direct. ExpressRoute Circuits are deployed in peering locations or meet-me-locations and mapped to different zones.
You’ll need to use an ExpressRoute circuit with some combination of ExpressRoute offerings.
ExpressRoute Virtual Gateway
To connect to virtual networks in Azure with ExpressRoute, you’ll need to create a virtual network gateway. An ExpressRoute virtual network gateway helps to exchange IP routes between your Azure and on-premises networks and to route network traffic.
Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Features
With Azure ExpressRoute, you get:
99.9% availability SLA across the entire connection.
Bandwidth options. You can purchase ExpressRoute circuits for a wide range of bandwidths. (You’ll want to check with your connectivity provider to determine the bandwidths they support.)
- 50 Mbps
- 100 Mbps
- 200 Mbps
- 500 Mbps
- 1 Gbps
- 2 Gbps
- 5 Gbps
- 10 Gbps
Dynamic scaling of bandwidth. You can increase the ExpressRoute circuit bandwidth (on a best effort basis) without having to tear down your connections and start over.
Redundancy. Each ExpressRoute circuit consists of two connections to two Microsoft Enterprise edge routers from the connectivity provider or your network edge.
Connectivity to Microsoft cloud services. Using Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, you can access Microsoft Azure services, Microsoft Office 365 services, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and more.
Connectivity to geopolitical regions. Customers can connect to Microsoft in one of the provider’s peering locations and access regions within the geopolitical region.
Global connectivity. ExpressRoute Premium enables customers to extend connectivity across geopolitical boundaries.
Local connectivity. ExpressRoute Local enables customers to lower the cost of transferring data by bringing it to an ExpressRoute location near the desired Azure region.
Cross on-premises connectivity. ExpressRoute Global Reach enables organizations to exchange data across their on-premises sites by connecting their ExpressRoute circuits.
Connectivity to Microsoft’s global network. ExpressRoute Direct enables customers to connect directly to Microsoft’s global network at Peering locations around the world.
Bandwidth options. Customers have a variety of bandwidth options, from 50Mbps to 10 Gbps.
Dynamic scaling of bandwidth. Customers can dynamically increase the circuit bandwidth of existing connections. ExpressRoute can be combined with VPN failover to get the higher bandwidth of ExpressRoute and highly available network connectivity.
Benefits of Using Microsoft ExpressRoute
Using ExpressRoute lets you enjoy all the benefits of a hybrid Cloud without compromising performance or security. Read below, for more of the reasons ExpressRoute could be the connection your organization needs.
Use a virtual private cloud for storage, backup, and recovery
ExpressRoute gives you a fast and reliable connection to Azure with bandwidths up to 100 Gbps. This speed makes it an excellent and cost-effective option for scenarios like periodic data migration, replication for business continuity, disaster recovery, and other high-availability strategies.
Extend and connect your datacenters
ExpressRoute allows you to securely add compute and storage capacity to your existing data center. With high throughput and low latency, Azure ExpressRoute provides a natural extension to or between your datacenters. You enjoy the scalability and economy of the public cloud without having to compromise on your network performance.
Build hybrid applications
You can use the predictable, reliable, and high-throughput connections offered by ExpressRoute to build applications that span on-premises infrastructure and Azure without compromising your level of security or decreasing your system performance.
For example, you can run a corporate intranet application in Azure that authenticates your users with an on-premises Active Directory service and serve all your corporate customers without traffic ever routing through the public Internet.
Improve Connectivity & Reliability, Security & Privacy
ExpressRoute allows organizations to connect to Microsoft cloud services regardless of where everything is located. ExpressRoute increases reliability due to the built-in redundancy. And it also improves security and privacy because your sensitive company data doesn’t go over the public internet.
You only pay for what you use. And the availability of dynamic scaling of bandwidth helps reduce your costs during periods of lower demand.
Make your connections fast, reliable, and secure
With Azure ExpressRoute, you can create private connections between an Azure Datacenter and infrastructure on your premises or in a colocation environment. You can use ExpressRoute to establish connections to Azure at an ExpressRoute location (ExpressRoute connects to service provider facilities).
Improve Recovery Speed
ExpressRoute provides you with a fast and reliable connection to Azure, which is suitable for: periodic data migration, replication for business continuity, disaster recovery, and other high availability strategies. It can also be a cost-effective option for transferring substantial amounts of data (such as datasets for high-performance computing applications) or moving large virtual machines between your development/test environment in Azure and your on-premises production environment.
Azure ExpressRoute Pricing
With Azure ExpressRoute there are:
– No upfront cost
– No termination fees
And, best of all? You only pay for only what you use. To meet your needs in the moment and expand and contract as those needs change, there are a range of pricing options, which include a one-time installation fee. You can pick a monthly billing model that works best for you.
Azure ExpressRoute pricing options include:
Unlimited data. Billing is based on a monthly fee; all inbound and outbound data transfer is included free of charge.
Metered data. Billing is based on a monthly fee; all inbound data transfer is free of charge. Outbound data transfer is charged per GB of data transfer. Data transfer rates vary by region.
ExpressRoute premium add-on. ExpressRoute premium is an add-on to the ExpressRoute circuit. The ExpressRoute premium add-on provides the following capabilities:
– Increased route limits for Azure public and Azure private peering from 4,000 routes to 10,000 routes.
– Global connectivity for services. An ExpressRoute circuit created in any region (excluding national clouds) will have access to resources across every other region in the world. For example, you can access a virtual network created in West Europe through an ExpressRoute circuit provisioned in Silicon Valley.
– Increased number of VNet links per ExpressRoute circuit from 10 to a larger limit, depending on the bandwidth of the circuit.
Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Considerations
If you’re thinking about adding Microsoft ExpressRoute to your operations, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- ExpressRoute is best suited for locations with high speeds, low-latency connections, and high levels of availability/resiliency
- You can’t use the public internet to establish a connection to ExpressRoute.
- The ExpressRoute protocol is Direct over VLAN or MPLS.
- Using ExpressRoute requires you to deploy ExpressRoute circuits & gateways.
- You’ll need to have available, or install, high-bandwidth routers.
- Your ExpressRoute circuit will be handled and managed by your connectivity provider.
- You’ll need to enable a BGP configuration. ExpressRoute doesn’t support the Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP).
- Due to the connectivity requirements, ExpressRoute isn’t necessarily the best option for smaller satellite offices.
- The setup and configuration for ExpressRoute can be complex. You should work with a networking expert and may need to collaborate with your connectivity provider.