Microsoft, Equinix Look to Link Public, Private Clouds Securely

A new service offered by Microsoft and data center operator Equinix aims to securely link private IT systems with Azure's massive cloud-computing resources.

Data center operator Equinix is now offering Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute to select customers as the company plans to gear up and expand the offering to 16 markets across four continents.

ExpressRoute allows businesses to link public and private cloud infrastructures, essentially enabling them to launch hybrid clouds that can seamlessly scale in accordance to their computing and storage requirements. In a statement, Equinix explained that the tech resides in its data centers "and is available via an Equinix switching fabric that provides secure connectivity and real-time provisioning."

The company further asserted that with the new option, "companies [will be] able to bridge their cloud and data center strategies and benefit from full integration between cloud services and internal applications." In addition, there's little chance that hackers can intercept the traffic between private and cloud-based systems.

"Because ExpressRoute connections do not go over the public Internet, they also offer higher security than typical connections, with access to a multitude of network service providers that are part of Equinix's business ecosystems," said Equinix.

Robust, reliable connections were also a priority for Microsoft and Equinix. Steven Martin, general manager for Windows Azure, added in a blog post that the companies worked together to "integrate Azure cloud services with private secure connectivity via an Equinix switching fabric that provides virtual connections with near real-time provisioning across fully redundant paths to and from Microsoft Azure."

ExpressRoute helps enterprises leverage the cost savings benefits of the cloud along with the elasticity provided by a distributed approach to computing, according to Martin. All told, it "enables Azure to appear as a seamless extension to a physical data center, providing the scale, flexibility and economics of cloud" while simplifying networking.

"With 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies already using Microsoft Azure combined with Equinix's global data center footprint, we look forward to working together to help customers bridge their cloud and on-premises technology to build hybrid environments with enterprise-grade control and reliability," said Martin in a separate statement.

Currently, ExpressRoute is available to as a "public preview" to select customers at Equinix IBX data center locations in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Plans call for the service to expend to Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and South America throughout 2014.

Chris Sharp, vice president of Cloud Innovation at Equinix, stated in prepared remarks that the service builds on a strategic partnership that the companies forged last year. Under the terms of the deal, Equinix IBX data centers have a direct connection to Microsoft Azure. "By expanding our partnership with Microsoft, we are able to offer our customers a secure, flexible and reliable connection to the Microsoft Azure cloud in 16 strategic markets around the world," he said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...