With the release of its long-awaited Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 this past Wednesday, Microsoft now allows organizations to extend its ExpressRoute secure connectivity to Azure cloud services to enterprise usage of Office 365.

That means that enterprise users can now bypass the public Internet to establish dedicated, private connections to Office 365 through their own on-premises datacenters.

What and Where?

Connectivity will initially be available for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business Online, Azure Active Directory, Office 365 Video, Power BI, Delve and Project Online.

Five network providers will offer the new connection: British Telecom, Equinix, Tata Communications, TelecityGroup and Verizon.

Secure Bandwidth

According to Sean Iraca, senior director of Cloud Innovation at Equinix, the connection to Office 365 through ExpressRoute will be so secure and will come with so much bandwidth that organizations will be able to do full-scale migrations to Office 366 without having to go near the Web.

“Since migrations of large amounts of data require high-bandwidth and high-throughput connections, ExpressRoute is an ideal vehicle to accomplish this with speed and security," he noted.

Reliable and Predictable

Julie Woods-Moss, CMO and CEO of NextGen Business at Tata Communications, was equally positive, noting that, “Many organizations [were previously unwilling] to take the plunge [into cloud computing] due to reliability concerns around the public Internet."

She continued, "Many CIOs have to deal with a complex combination of private, public and hybrid clouds. Reliable, secure and predictable network performance … [is] key to delivering on the promise of cloud, be it private, public or hybrid."

Strong Network Partners

For Microsoft though, putting the responsibility for keeping Office 365 connections alive into the hands of third-party providers ― even those with global reach and expertise ― is both a logical next step and a leap of faith since poor network performance has been a hurdle to adoption of cloud solutions in the past.

Yet the potential of offering private, managed connections to Office 365 seems clear: Users can expect more predictable network performance, guaranteed availability through service level agreements (SLAs), additional data privacy and above all, more flexibility and choice in crafting hybrid solutions to meet their enterprise needs.