Today at Microsoft Ignite I had the pleasure of attending a session on ExpressRoute for Office 365 (two sessions actually). ExpressRoute for Office 365 was released on March 17th of this year ( ://blogs.office.com/2015/03/17/announcing-azure-expressroute-connectivity-to-office-365/ ) but most people haven’t had much exposure to it so yet.
That all changed as it is being touted at Ignite! If you’ve sat through a session on Azure you’ve seen mention of ExpressRoute, a session on O365….Check! And if you’ve been in any of the Skype For Business session, you now know that it is “Highly Recommended” (read, just short of required).
So what is ExpressRoute?
ExpressRoute is a service that MS has implemented along with it’s partners that allows you to bring your O365 or Azure instance directly into your global business network. You can tie into the Azure or Office 365 tenant in a couple of ways, one is to have a direct connection in through your datacenter provider. Datacenter companies with an ExpressRoute connection, such as Equinix or Level3, can tie your datacenter services right into MS. If you are not lucky enough to be hosted by an ExpressRoute partner you can have one of the Partners such as AT&T or Verizon add a private connection into Azure of O365!
So if you already use MPLS with a partner you can tie that into ExpressRoute (for a fee of course) and get away from an internet VPN tunnel and leverage the guaranteed bandwidth and latency SLAs that you have with your WAN provider.
The graphic from MS shows it best. Get off the shared internet and onto a dedicated circuit!
ExpressRoute will be a HUGE advantage for companies looking to do voice with Skype For Business (SfB) as latency and QoS over shared links is an absolute mess. I’ll talk more about SfB in another post as MS is pushing hard into hosted VOIP with this iteration of Lync.