Microsoft offers private connections to Azure data centres

Microsoft sign outside glass building

Microsoft has announced that private internet connections are now available for customers using its UK data centres, allowing for secure and dedicated routes for transferring large volumes of data off-site.

The new Azure Express Route service gives businesses a direct connection to the Azure and Office 365 datacentres it opened in London, Durham and Cardiff back in September, tackling bandwidth issues and appeasing those companies reluctant to transfer data over normal internet connections.

Since the facilities opened, thousands of customers have made use of them, including the Ministry of Defence and the NHS. Last week the Met Police announced a partnership with Azure to store footage from body cameras, which is automatically uploaded to the UK data centres.

Businesses have typically relied on using internet connections with basic encryption protocols to transfer data, or use expensive VPN services offered by third-party providers. Microsoft will hope the new direct service will not only appease customers asking for greater security, but also entice larger businesses that have yet to make the transition to cloud.

"We're delighted to see such growing demand for our cloud services from our new data centres in the UK," said Microsoft chief executive Cindy Rose. "With our trusted cloud now delivered locally, and our commitment to principals of security, privacy, transparency, compliance and availability, we are well placed to support the digital transformation of organisations throughout the country."

The Azure data centres also offer customers their own Security Centre for protection against online threats, and access to the Azure Marketplace, which offers thousands of open source applications and developer services through an online store.

The new private connection feature will also help facilitate those companies preferring to store some data on-site, by providing a reliable way of managing data securely and quickly, according to Microsoft.

BT announced a similar service in June that allowed customers to access its own secure IP Connect VPN for funnelling large volumes of data, removing the risk of bottlenecks and cybersecurity threats. This service also provides secure connections to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services data centres.

Redmond also revealed plans to add Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup services, allowing companies to create cloud replicas of data stored in Azure data centres, although there are no details about when this feature will go live.

Additional services will be available in the first half of 2017, including Dynamics 365 which will "give customers access to intelligent business applications in the UK".

Microsoft's news coincides with an announcement from Amazon, which recently unveiled a service to transport millions of terabytes of data using shipping containers loaded onto the back of a lorry - optionally under armed guard. AWS's 'Snowmobile' trucks provide larger businesses with the means of sending huge quantities of information directly to data centres that would otherwise take too long to migrate.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.