Microsoft Inspire Focus: Accelerating Applications on Azure

How network optimization can speed hybrid cloud deployments

Bob Breynaert

Next week businesses from all over the world will gather in Las Vegas (July 14 – 18) to connect at Microsoft Inspire 2019, the company’s largest annual partner conference. We are excited to be at this year’s Inspire as a Silver Sponsor (Booth #2217), where we will share our experiences helping enterprises re-architect and optimize their wide area networks (WANs) for faster hybrid cloud deployments, broader consumption of Azure services and better user experiences.

New cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure, such as Azure DevOps, Azure AI and Azure Blockchain Service, provide enterprises with a fast path to improved business agility, scale and competitiveness. But legacy network architectures can significantly hamper their ability to migrate workloads to Azure and experience highly performant hybrid applications. Traditional enterprise WANs were simply not built for today’s high-volume, cloud data workflows. We’re working with global Microsoft partners to help their customers overcome these challenges and optimize their networks to better support application migration and Azure hybrid cloud infrastructures.

When organizations know how to transform from legacy, centralized IT models to distributed, digital-ready infrastructures, they can more easily and rapidly integrate Azure and Office 365, hybrid cloud, applications, data, analytics and users at the digital edge.

Traditional networks: Removing a key barrier to cloud adoption

Enterprise cloud adoption falters when legacy networks cannot provide the level of performance, security or governance required to support dynamic hybrid clouds, such as those enabled by Microsoft Azure. Network architecture complications, including increased congestion, high latency and lack of visibility, can prohibit IT organizations from efficiently pushing workloads to Azure and leveraging its full potential to deliver Azure hybrid clouds.

For an organization to accelerate its digital transformation via Azure, it must have an optimized enterprise-class network that supports:

  • Cross-premises connection among enterprises’ on-premises data centers, distributed colocation data centers, and Azure for hybrid cloud deployments
  • Load balancing and routing between redundant networks to handle the frequent ebbs and flows of data and application workloads to Azure
  • Virtual networking, such as software-defined networking (SDN) or network functions virtualization (NFV), to spin up network resources on demand for connecting with Azure services
  • Private interconnection (i.e., Azure ExpressRoute), IPsec, virtual private networks (VPNs) and direct IP peering to ensure security at scale
  • A redundant, high availability network design that can ensure business continuity and disaster recovery between on-premises data centers and Azure

In addition these requirements, an optimized network must enable businesses to govern their clouds by providing increased visibility into costing, auditing, monitoring and services decommissioning.

Optimizing for greater Azure and Office 365 migration and consumption

Network optimization is vital for accelerating application migration to Microsoft Azure, especially latency-sensitive workload. Equinix and Microsoft can help you and your enterprise customers get there through high-bandwidth, low-latency and private interconnection that bypasses the public internet via Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute™ and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric). ECX Fabric directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems globally on Platform Equinix® via software-defined interconnection. Private interconnection to Azure using ExpressRoute at the digital edge, closer to users, results in a broader deployment, better user quality of experience (QoE), and maximum consumption of Azure services. In fact, businesses using Azure ExpressRoute consume an average of 3-5+ times more Azure services.  And Equinix now makes it even easier to connect to Azure ExpressRoute through Network Edge services— virtual network services that run on a modular infrastructure platform. Network Edge is optimized for instant deployment and interconnection to Azure ExpressRoute and other network services.

As Microsoft’s leading Azure ExpressRoute partner worldwide, we support ExpressRoute in 23 global markets on Platform Equinix®. We can help Microsoft customers choose the optimal geos for migrating their applications to Azure at Equinix.

Azure ExpressRoute and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric on Platform Equinix

Azure acceleration in action

We’ve helped several enterprise customers deploy hybrid cloud applications on Platform Equinix leveraging Azure ExpressRoute and ECX Fabric, with impressive results:

  • PCL Construction, Canada’s largest construction contractor, gained faster, low-latency interconnection to its growing base of hosted Azure cloud services/applications, with a reduction in OPEX and CAPEX costs that saved the company $500K per year. Network latency was reduced by 4x (from 13 ms to 3 ms)between Azure ExpressRoute and its backbone MPLS network. The company also automated delivery of Microsoft Azure services to users, speeding up delivery time to less than 4 hours versus 8 weeks, with a better user QoE.

According to Chris Palmer, Manager of Advanced Technology Services of PCL Construction “Equinix was invaluable in helping us retrofit our global network with the lowest latency and fastest connectivity to Microsoft Azure for our global users, while enabling greater cloud security and reliability.”

  • Smithfield Foods, a global agricultural processor, created a more optimized and safer interconnection fabric using direct and secure connectivity to its multiple network and cloud partners, including Microsoft Azure, via Azure ExpressRoute and ECX Fabric. The company created a worldwide “super cloud” on Platform Equinix that optimizes application performance, improves disaster recovery and reduces cloud connection network costs by 75%. Smithfield achieved zero outages by moving more apps to the cloud, reduced its application spin-up time from one month to an hour, and lowered user application response time from 100-200 milliseconds to 40-80 milliseconds.

“We’ve built a fast, scalable, secure and reliable multicloud interconnection infrastructure on Platform Equinix that is truly cutting edge. It is the core of our application acceleration and disaster recovery solution,” said Julia Anderson, Global Chief Information Officer for Smithfield Foods.

Private interconnection via Azure ExpressRoute and ECX Fabric on Platform Equinix gives your enterprise customers access to global deployments of Microsoft Azure and Office 365, a greater user QoE and maximum consumption of services. Come visit us at Microsoft Inspire in Booth #2217 and learn how we can partner to help your customers accelerate their digital transformations.

Can’t make it to Microsoft Inspire 2019? Read Enabling Hybrid Cloud for more information.