Inspiring Azure Hybrid Cloud Scenarios

Bob Breynaert
Inspiring Azure Hybrid Cloud Scenarios

The enterprise faces evolving challenges as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and tightening regulatory compliance continuously alter the digital landscape. The Equinix and Microsoft Azure Alliance has identified Azure hybrid and public cloud use cases that are in high demand by enterprise customers. These use cases drive Azure consumption and present an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) and systems integrators (SIs) to more deeply penetrate key lines of business and the IT organizations that support them.

These include:

  • IoT infrastructure and services at the edge that enable high-scale internet device deployments
  • Azure Stack as an application development environment
  • Regulatory-compliant hybrid storage
  • Importing large data sets to Azure

Solutions that align to these use cases when deployed on Platform Equinix® at distributed Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers will deliver greater performance and scalability at the digital edge, where commerce, population centers and digital ecosystems meet. They’ll also achieve a greater level of physical security when compared to solutions deployed on-premises that are connected to Azure through traditional telecom networks.

Equinix has engaged with Microsoft Product Groups and field organizations to build solutions and go-to-market (GTM) strategies that align with these high-demand use cases. These solutions will enable MSPs and SIs to build and deliver services for enterprise customers that hit the sweet spot of the market, leverage the technical strengths of both the enterprise and service provider, and are aligned with the GTM approach of the Equinix – Microsoft strategic alliance.

Azure IoT Edge

Enterprises are finding that IoT solution architectures based on traditional field edge gateways and public cloud-based device authentication, security policy and updates, do not achieve the security, scale and performance required for production deployments. Pushing these functions to Equinix’s highly-interconnected IBX data centers at the digital edge provides the following benefits:

  • A consolidated location for device connection to multiple low-powered wide area network (LPWAN) and 5G networks
  • More efficient pushing of firmware updates to internet devices
  • A central point at the edge for device authentication, activation, management and for setting security policies
  • Aggregation of analytics at the edge for real-time data processing and analytics. This is combined with Azure IoT Hub and using the IoT suite of services for predictive analytics and maintenance on a global scale.
  • Improved security with no IP stack on device/sensor and end-to-end encryption of messages

Enterprise customers use Equinix (via a LPWAN provider) to connect field sensors to an LPWAN core with Microsoft IoT Edge and IoT Hub


Azure Stack and developing business and consumer applications

Azure Stack is Microsoft’s hybrid cloud platform that allows organizations to deliver Azure services from their own data centers in a way that is consistent with public cloud Azure. Many deployments of Azure Stack today are used for development and testing. At Equinix, we see the integrated systems that host development and test environments or are used for proof-of-concept (POC) or trial deployments, are often deployed in labs that have high-latency and low-bandwidth connections back to Azure public cloud. This suboptimal network environment will deliver lower application performance than what would be achieved if the application was deployed in a low-latency, high-throughput hybrid environment that is tuned and optimized to deliver superior application performance.

Equinix has engaged with Microsoft to develop and deliver an Azure Stack hybrid cloud solution architecture that optimizes hybrid application performance. We’ve also worked with both Dell EMC and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise to create offerings that are based on this architecture. The Azure Stack hybrid architecture is based on Microsoft ExpressRoute, Equinix Performance Hub and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) on Platform Equinix (see diagram below). By implementing the solution, you will deliver to your customer:

  • A low-latency, high-bandwidth hybrid architecture that will provide a true approximation of hybrid application performance at production
  • An increased the number of applications that can be supported by the hybrid environment from the low-latency interconnection provided by Platform Equinix. This will increase the scope and size of MSP and SI service engagements.
  • A greater range of supported use cases, including scaling “burst” capacity during peak times of application and true hybrid application loads
  • A faster rate of production applications deployed on your Azure Stack environment. With enhanced application performance and greater addressable application space, your customers’ lines of business and IT teams will see a greater volume of hardware resell, Azure consumption and service revenue.

Equinix and Microsoft Azure Stack with ExpressRoute for consistent hybrid cloud and fast, agile development of business and consumer apps


Large data set import to Azure

Many Azure projects stall and Azure consumption is delayed because of the time it takes to import data to Azure over low-bandwidth connections. We see many IoT projects start with the import of large data sets to Azure. This is particularly the case in the automotive vertical. Automotive customers have large data sets generated by connected car fleets, which need to be pushed into Azure. However, moving multiple petabytes of data quickly into Azure is not possible via an internet connection ꟷ the data transfer timeframes extend to weeks or even months. Equinix has engaged with Microsoft to deliver a data import solution to Azure that’s soon to be in production. Customers can use a variety of storage devices to import large data sets to Azure. The solution we have developed involves the air/ground transport of the storage device to an Equinix’s highly-interconnected IBX data center at the digital edge, local to the customer. The storage device is deployed in an Equinix Performance Hub™ on Platform Equinix and interconnected to Azure over ECX Fabric and Azure ExpressRoute (see diagram below). By implementing this solution, your customers will:

  • Increase performance compared to going over the internet
  • Reduce large data set transfer time by leveraging proximate high-bandwidth, low-latency connections to Azure
  • Move data more quickly to Azure, enabling more expedient data analysis
  • Transition at a faster rate from pilot to production, which is key in the highly competitive connected car space
  • Obtain higher security standards for critical data achieved through a dedicated, private connection

Equinix and Microsoft ExpressRoute for large data set import to Azure


Hybrid storage and regulatory compliance

With the proliferation of data from multiple data sources and stricter data privacy and protection regulations, many enterprise data stores need to be readily accessible, but housed locally, where the data was created. By leveraging Microsoft Azure IaaS compute and NetApp SnapMirror or Microsoft Azure Backup, you can enable your enterprise customers to perform industry-compliant, high-performance private storage backup using Microsoft ExpressRoute via ECX Fabric (see diagram below) on Platform Equinix.

Equinix and Microsoft ExpressRoute for IaaS compute and data storage to comply with regulatory compliance guidelines


This will help your enterprise customers:

  • Increase data backup performance via a private network connection to Azure
  • Boost application performance due to the proximity of data and legacy hardware to the public Azure cloud infrastructure
  • Achieve IT flexibility for future hybrid application deployments
  • Move compute and data closer to the edge, increasing performance and ensuring regulatory compliance by keeping data local to where it was created

The Equinix – Microsoft Alliance

The Equinix – Microsoft Alliance team provides edge IT and interconnection capabilities to Azure, including: deeply integrating Platform Equinix with Azure services, developing and delivering GTM strategies used in joint sales between Microsoft and Equinix, and delivering solutions to partners that are based on Platform Equinix and Azure advanced workloads. Our alliance provides a highly differentiated value proposition to Microsoft partners and customers by using interconnection to advance IT transformation within enterprises in all industries. The solutions we have developed with the Microsoft Product Groups enable partners to deliver high-performance, reliable hybrid clouds at the digital edge, push large, secure data sets up into Azure at high speed and deploy IoT device-based solutions at high scale.

Equinix is Microsoft’s most widely deployed digital edge partner, with a global network of PoPs and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute locations deployed within Equinix IBX data centers in 22 global metros worldwide. Microsoft is also Equinix’s largest user of ECX Fabric.

With Azure Stack, we are currently working with Azure product teams to align our interconnection solutions to enable customers to optimize Azure Stack deployments with Equinix Performance Hub, Equinix Data Hub and ECX Fabric. This creates a low-latency, high-bandwidth hybrid IT architecture that is highly optimized for many key use cases.

Equinix’s data import service to Azure is available in 9 Equinix IBX locations worldwide, enabling customers to import large data sets directly and securely into Azure through Equinix Cloud Exchange fabric and Azure ExpressRoute. We are engaged with Microsoft and customers in key verticals such as automotive to decrease data import time and enable faster data analytics for connected car and other key use cases.

We also are working with the Azure IoT team to engage with customers to design solutions where edge infrastructure and applications are deployed in Equinix IBX data centers. This provides customers the ability to push key solution components to the digital edge, to deploy internet devices at scale and to interconnect with Azure IoT over a global footprint.

Join us in Las Vegas for Microsoft Inspire, July 16 – 19, 2018 to learn more about these and other Equinix and Microsoft hybrid cloud scenarios. Stop by our booth (#907) for a presentation or to discuss how to optimize your enterprise customers’ digital transformation.

For more information, please contact

Bob Breynaert Former Global Managing Director, Strategic Alliances
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