Azure & ExpressRoute: Q&A with Microsoft’s Jaime Schmidtke

Jan 22, 2018

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The public cloud has been a game changer. For years, public cloud providers have touted huge cost savings, both in upfront hardware costs and ongoing operations. But network performance and security concerns have prevented many businesses from adopting an effective cloud strategy.

Microsoft Azure aims to solve these problems with ExpressRoute. By facilitating private connections to Azure, ExpressRoute partners offer improved security, reliability and speed, so that more businesses can take advantage of the public cloud.

We sat down with Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute specialist Jaime Schmidtke to talk ExpressRoute, multi-cloud strategy, disaster recovery and more.


What differentiates Microsoft Azure from other leading public cloud providers?

There are several differences. The first is our certifications—in the Azure Trust Center, you’ll see details on our compliance and regulatory certifications like FedRamp, ISO, PCI, and HIPAA. A lot of our customers are used to being able to have their own datacenters and colocation facilities certified. We take it very seriously and offer the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud provider.

The next big difference is our global reach. We’re in 40 regions globally and we just announced two more out of South Africa, making us the first hyperscale cloud provider on that continent. We keep adding regions to ensure that customers are getting local service globally.

On top of that, we have our global network. ExpressRoute partners like CoreSite give customers private connectivity into our global backbone, which also lets us offer geographic disaster recovery options. Customers can connect into seven CoreSite markets, for example, and access any global region.

Finally, there’s our hybrid approach. We’re taking workloads that have been popular on-premises and enabling them on the cloud. For example, workloads in on-prem SQL databases can be extended via backup or hyperscale on Azure, right from the application itself. With Azure Stack, the cloud experience on-prem is consistent with what customers are accustomed to on the public cloud, even utilizing the same portal for both on-prem workloads and Azure workloads.


What are the most popular Microsoft Azure services?

As we’re going through this cloud transformation, we see a lot of customers doing a lift and shift of their existing virtual environment. They’re taking their on-prem virtual machines and migrating or even replicating them on the cloud. Many customers are also using our Azure platform services, like blob storage, disaster recovery, and DevTest.

We’re also seeing Tier 1 applications start to move toward the cloud. DevTest has been a great way to get used to the cloud, but now, with our open-source partnerships like Red Hat and SAP, and with the work that we’ve done with Big Compute, BI, AI, and IOT, we’re seeing customers adopt at a faster and faster pace.


What’s your favorite thing about ExpressRoute?

There’s a lot to love about ExpressRoute. We require redundant connectivity between us and our ExpressRoute partners, so customers can have redundancy built right into their connections from their provider. They can also choose to have a single connection going into The CoreSite Open Cloud Exchange which has redundant connections to our ExpressRoute routers. This gives customers choice in how they connect their network to Microsoft. We take pride in building a production-level network so customers feel comfortable putting their production-level workloads in the cloud.


What are Microsoft customers saying about ExpressRoute?

We’ve built ExpressRoute based on what we’re hearing from customers, so their feedback is really similar to what I like about ExpressRoute personally. Specifically, they like the predictable performance and high throughput and they like that they can treat the public cloud as another node on their existing private network. They can deploy custom-built apps or apps from the Azure Marketplace very quickly to take advantage of that performance for their users or even their end customers.


How do you recommend a customer gets started with Microsoft Azure?

I always recommend starting a conversation with the local Microsoft account team. Of course, we’ve got a ton of published information to get them started, which is great because in IT, a lot of people like to do their own due diligence. The Microsoft Virtual Academy has online training content, and you can get a free account at Azure.com to get familiar with the portal and services. You can dig deep into development and infrastructure with our documentation at docs.microsoft.com. If you do start with your own due diligence, Microsoft field teams are here to talk through your use case and make sure your architecture and design will put you in the best possible position.


How does Microsoft Azure fit into a multi-cloud strategy?

We’re seeing a lot more interest in these conversations. Many customers started off using AWS, but they are seeing that there is a benefit to using multiple cloud providers. They’re asking about replication and connectivity to use Azure for disaster recovery. CoreSite is an ideal conduit for that relationship because it offers connectivity to both clouds, so we’re able to have the Azure world communicate with the Amazon world. That way if there’s an issue with either cloud provider, there’s redundancy and diversity in place to make sure everything operates at high availability.


Final thoughts

It’s been years since the public cloud and IaaS reshaped the infrastructure landscape, but many organizations have been hesitant to take full advantage of the cloud. But as providers like Microsoft Azure continue to expand their feature sets, partnerships, and network capabilities, that reluctance is starting to wane. CoreSite is proud to offer leading cloud and interconnection solutions that fuel business growth. Visit CoreSite.com for more information.

Jaime Schmidtke

Jaime Schmidtke

Cloud Networking Specialist at Microsoft

Jaime Schmidtke is a Cloud Networking Specialist at Microsoft and has spent the last 15 years in the tech industry.

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