Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

Equinix has Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) with Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute (Azure). Subsequently, when you create a connection to Azure on ECX FabricECX Fabric is an advanced interconnection solution that improves performance by providing a direct, private network connection, the complete process is automated until the provisioning of the connection.

To start off with, you can follow our easy video tutorial.

To create a connection to Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, you must first obtain an account with Microsoft and create a service key for the specific location on the Microsoft Azure Portal.

Available Microsoft Services

Microsoft offers these services through ECX Fabric:

  • Microsoft—connect with Office 365

  • Private—use for enterprise private networking

You are not required to use both services (private and Microsoft).

Three connections can be created with a single service key (each having a primary and secondary connection). However, each of the three connections must have unique ExpressRoute Peering VLAN IDs. For example, if 2000 is used as the private ExpressRoute peering VLAN ID, then the same VLAN cannot be used for private or Microsoft peering.

Note: Public peering, or connecting with Microsoft public offerings, e.g. Skype, is now only available through Microsoft peering via route filters that must be set up.

Azure Connection States

The Azure connection goes through the following different states:

When you create the service key on the Microsoft Azure Portal, the initial status of the service key is Not Provisioned. Once the connection is submitted to ECX Fabric™, the Azure circuit (service key) status changes to Provisioned. Only when the status is Provisioned can you configure peering on the Azure Portal. Azure requires redundancy for every connection to be submitted with a service key.

Azure create connection workflow

From the “Connect” page, select Microsoft Azure Service Profile card as the service you want. From the list of available regions, click Create a ConnectionConnection is a general term that refers to any solution that results in the ability to pass data from one point to another. Connections can be made with Layer 2 or Layer 3 technology, may involve several parts or components and can be created from the portal or with APIs in a variety of ways. to initiate the request

You receive a notification indicating charges begin once the connection request is submitted. If you want to proceed, click Continue Creating a Connection. Otherwise, click Cancel to stop the request.

Upon acceptance, the “Connect to Microsoft Azure” page provides an overview of the steps you need to perform before, during and after connection request. If you require any assistance, click Resource Center links to read the relevant article.

When you are ready, click Create a Connection to Microsoft ExpressRoute. You can track your progress throughout the connection request. There are four steps in the Azure connection request:

  • Basic information—select your origin and destination ports

  • Connection details—enter your connection information and destination details

  • Speed—select the connection speed option

  • Review—ensure the connection summary details are correct and submit your order

Basic information

At first, the preview pane shows empty connection cards. The cards populate as you build your connection requests.

To begin, select the two origin port locations you want to use. The preview pane shows a primary and a secondary port location.

As a customer, you need to create an additional redundant connection in Azure. In case one connection is disrupted, then the secondary connection acts as a backup. Below the preview, the left primary origin cards show the ports you own. On the right, the destination card shows the available Azure locations—local and remote.

If Azure is locally present in the destination that you selected earlier, that location shows up by default as a local connection. If you need to connect to Azure in any other remote location, the available remote locations are listed in the destination card.

Note: Remote connections come with additional latency and charges

To show your available ports, select the region to expand, then configure your primary and secondary ports and connections. Those ports display in the preview pane. If you select the same port for your secondary as your primary, a warning displays to let you know port failure might impact your redundant connection.

Two redundancy modes are supported:

  • Dual ports

  • Single port

Dual ports

Dual (two) ports provides the benefit of having a complete redundancy for your connections. Should one port fail, whether it is due to the customer, Equinix or Microsoft, the traffic automatically moves through the secondary connection on the other device. This ensures that there is no impact to your service.

Single port

A single (one) port to Azure is also supported with ECX Fabric. Since Microsoft still requires redundancy for remote connections, redundancy to Microsoft Azure primary and secondary is provided by two VLAN remote connections on the single port connected to Equinix.

Note: While you can make connections with a single port, primary and secondary connections are configured on the same port. Any failure on this port impacts both connections.

If ports are QinQ

If you use QinQ port encapsulation, you can create only one connection per service key. To do this, you must specify only the outer VLAN tag that you configure on your router. With the single connection, you can connect to the three Microsoft services mentioned earlier. The inner tags configured on your routers are passed transparently to Azure ExpressRoute, but you must also use the same inner tags on the Microsoft side.

If ports are Dot1Q

If your port is Dot1Q, additional fields appear after the service key field, and you must select one of the following options:

  • Connect to services provided by Microsoft (Microsoft, private or public)

  • Provision with Equinix only at this time. Later, you configure BGP Peering on the Microsoft side

Once you have made your selections, click Next to move forward.

Connection details

In the “Connection Information” section, add a name and VLAN ID for your primary and redundant connections. This VLAN ID value is used on the Microsoft side for public, private or Microsoft peering. Your VLAN ID number should be between 1 and 4094.

Note: This VLAN ID can be the same as the primary one because this is on the separate device, or it can be different. If using a single port, the Redundant VLAN ID must be different to the Primary VLAN ID because this is on the same device.

In the Microsoft Azure Order Details, enter your Azure Service Key. Microsoft validates the service key and corresponding speed as soon as you enter the information.

Note: This is the Service Key that you get from Microsoft. The Azure Service Key is 36 characters including 4 dashes in the following format: xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

If applicable, enter your purchase order number or any other useful reference number.

Once the connection details are confirmed, proceed to setting the connection speed.

Speed

Your connection speed is determined by service key you previously entered. When you have selected the connection speed displayed, click Next to review the connection request details.

Review

The Preview pane visually illustrates the complete connection request details. The Connection Summary provides the information necessary to make a connection request. Notifications about the connection are sent to the emails listed. You can add emails as required.

Click Submit Your Order to complete your connection request.

A page indicates your connection request is successful. If everything on the form is correct, you receive the success message and a summary of next possible actions.

From the success page, you can launch to one the following options:

  • Check your inbox for the confirmation email. You receive a second email to let you know when the order is provisioned

  • Go to your inventory page to view the connection details and status

  • Finish creating your connection by configuring the peering details on the Microsoft Azure Portal. Three peering connections can be made on the Microsoft side using the same service key. These are private, public and Microsoft peering. If you have already completed this step, then you are done.

Note: After completing BGP peering on the Microsoft portal, it will take approximately 15-20 minutes for your connection status to become “Provisioned” in the ECX Fabric portal. Optionally, you can accelerate this by selecting your connection in the Inventory section of the ECX Fabric portal, then selecting “Sync BGP peering” for immediate provisioning.

Pending BGP connections now also have platform sync.

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

Increase Bandwidth Speed to Azure

Customers who wish to increase the bandwidth of their Expressroute connection must first make this change in the Microsoft Azure Portal. More information can be found at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/expressroute/expressroute-howto-circuit-portal-resource-manager.

Once complete in the Azure portal, you can select the appropriate connection in the ECX Fabric portal from the Inventory tab. A simple way to find the appropriate connection would be to filter by the Expressroute service key.

Once you click on the connection, the Connection Details page will appear and you should see an Edit button in the Order Details section as shown below.

The notification icon beside the speed indicates that the speed in the Azure portal and the speed in the ECX Fabric portal are out of sync. You can then choose to Edit the connection and you will have the opportunity to accept the new speed as determined from an API call to the Azure portal. Once accepted, the upgrade will take place and no further action is required.

Traffic will continue to flow at the previous lower speed when the bandwidth upgrade is being configured until the upgrade on both the A-side and Z-side of the circuit is successfully completed.

Verify routes on the Microsoft Azure Portal

To verify the route to and from the customer, visit the Microsoft Azure Portal so that Microsoft can be verified for each ExpressRoute circuit.

For More information on Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

Please check out the relevant Microsoft documentation here.

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