Express routes

In these modern times, companies want to connect to the cloud. Though you may connect to the cloud over the Internet, that might bring unwanted features. Internet connections do not bring any way of quality of service (QOS).

What can you do to prevent this problem from happening? Connect to the cloud directly.

What is the cloud?

The cloud is no less than one or more computers from someone else. Through a network or a remote connection you may reach the application (or workload) as the application is hosted elsewhere. Most of the times this is a data center, or a large facility with enormous power and cooling options, where the hosting party has rented a part of the floor space and installed a bunch of these large servers in their own area. Using tooling either bought or developed by themselves, they can run these applications for you, or provide compute and storage for you to run these applications. By sharing resources this is a model where the general load of these servers is higher than you would do when running in your own data center, so for the hosting party this is far more cost effective. Since these big computers are in a data center – so a fixed location – you can order an express route, or a direct connection from your network into the network of the hosting party.

The express route consist of several items which you have to order:

  • the port in the data center owned by the hosting party
  • the connection – or link – from your network to the room of the provider delivering the connection in the same data center
  • sometimes the patch cable from the room of the provider (meet-me room) to the port in the data center of the hosting party. Most of the times this patch cable is part of the connection.
  • depending on the length of the connection additional equipment, if required (SFP modules on both ends of the connection.

When looking at Microsoft for example, they are located in NL Equinix data centers. Is starts with a LOA – or Letter Of Authorization. This a set of forms you will have to fill on the Microsoft portal of your cloud environment. It will generate a form which will contain the port numbers needed for the connection provider to deliver the express route connection. You will need to know the data center, patch cabinet and other details to be able to order the connection from your network to – in this case – Microsoft. When the LOA is ready, use that information to order the link.

If the link is tested and complete, you may connect your end. The lower OSI layers should be operational. (there is liight) If that is the case, you will need to adapt your network to accommodate the route towards the cloud through the express route. More options do exist, like redundancy through additional express routes to the same provider, or more express routes to different cloud providers (and hence different procedures).

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