A Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute site in Auckland, signaled at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in November 2018, has arrived.
The Azure cloud service allows customers to benefit from a dedicated private connection, bypassing the public internet to deliver predicable performance, lower latency and SLA-based connectivity to Microsoft's Azure cloud services.
ExpressRoute is targeted at organisations wanting to deploy business critical workloads in the cloud but until now New Zealanders looking for such features had to connect to the ExpressRoute site in Australia.
Customers will be able to choose from a large ecosystem of local carrier partners, benefit from more deployment options and lower connectivity costs.
Local ExpressRoute services will initially be provided by Megaport, Vocus, Spark, Kordia and Devoli.
Patrick Quesnel, senior cloud and enterprise business group lead at Microsoft New Zealand, developed the business case for the new service.
He told Reseller News the service will connect the business critical applications of New Zealand users to Australia and anywhere beyond on the Microsoft backbone and will be especially useful in connecting hybrid cloud applications and data sources.
In terms of its network, Microsoft is one of the largest telcos in the world, he said. It also offers significant cost savings.
Delivering the site was a big decision, he said, receiving the thumbs up because New Zealand is recognised as a fast adopter of cloud services globally.
Spark product director Tessa Tierney said business customers are increasingly needing fast, reliable, secure and cost effective connectivity to the Microsoft Azure network to ensure their users have the best possible application experience.
"Today for example, we have customers utilising Azure-based data analytics or internet of things platforms, who are moving massive quantities of data, which demands this level of connectivity and flexibility to help them better meet their business objectives," she said.
Spark's Cloud Connect solution ensures that connectivity back to the company's network is resilient through diverse fibre connections from the Microsoft edge back to geographically separate Spark exchanges.
Karl Rosnell, CEO of wholesale provider Devoli, said his company's role in the small to mid market is subtly different.
"There is a whole heap of IT partners out there looking for a relevant next move to add value to customers and make money," he said.
Devoli has been facilitating a similar service to Sydney on its own network for some time.
"We win if we enable the NZ IT landscape to be able to build cloud technologies for their customers," he said. "The key thing is how we can help companies access the motorway."
Vocus NZ is hosting the new Azure ExpressRoute in its datacentre.
CEO Mark Callandar said Vocus has a range of different carriers in its datacentres already looking to provide direct connectivity to their customers.
"They will be looking at how they can package up services to end users," he said.
"It is great someone like Microsoft has looked at NZ and enabled it to help transformation."
Kordia's head of product, Murray Goodman, said his company positions itself as a mission critical network provider and access to cloud-based services is now just that.
ExpressRoute will now become part of Kordia's "Best Connected" business practice.
"Applications will only perform as well as the network," he said. "A large portion of customers will be using Microsoft in one form or another and it makes sense to support them."
Megaport's vice president of cloud products, Matt Simpson, said some of the other partners delivering the new ExpressRoute service are also customers of Megaport.
Megaport, he said offered a flexible service without lock-in contracts and with bandwidth scalable at any time. The company has 465 data centres globally with 30 ExpressRoute locations. Megaport has 11 data centres in New Zealand.
"We essentially extend the reach of the ExpressRoute," he said. "Any customers in those data centres can get the ExpressRoute in a matter of minutes."
Microsoft's Quesnel said New Zealand is one of the fastest evolving digital nations in the world and that placed it in a unique position when the business case was made.
“Microsoft New Zealand has worked tirelessly to deliver a Azure ExpressRoute site here for our customers, he said.
"The local team strongly believes in the importance of investing in this country’s digital transformation and supporting our Kiwi customers and partners in their transformation journeys."
The ExpressRoute site offers multiple deployment models, including an any-to-any (IP VPN), a point-to-point Ethernet connection or now a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a local co-location facility.
The service effectively extends customer’s on-premise networks into the Microsoft cloud over a private connection.
Last year, Microsoft invested in a dedicated FastTrack direct cloud engineering assistance service for its New Zealand customers and partners.
“Our partners and customers are increasingly looking to reach overseas markets, and we wanted to help them leverage Microsoft’s international networks and resources more effectively,” said Quesnel.