Internet2 Cloud Connect Upgrades Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute to 100G Connections

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By George Loftus, Internet2 Associate Vice President, Network Services

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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Internet2 is pleased to announce that its Cloud Connect (I2CC) service now provides access to Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute services through 100G connections in Ashburn, Virginia, and San Jose, California.

I2CC continues to grow as a joint service of Internet2 and regional research and education network partners to provide direct connections to the three major cloud providers at over 150 member institutions. This upgrade in capacity will allow Internet2 to meet the increasing demand for cloud connectivity to Microsoft, and will enable quicker provisioning of these connections. 

Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to offer 100G interconnections to Internet2. These I2CC Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute installations are designed to be fully redundant connections, including two 100G interconnections to separate routing infrastructure at each location. 

I2CC Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

The first 100G interconnects were installed last year in San Jose to help meet the demand from medical researchers and academic units at the University of California schools. The Ashburn location will be upgraded in August, and will help meet the increasing demand from higher education and federal agency members. 

Initially, Internet2 had deployed four 10G connections in Ashburn, and had the need for two more 10G connections. In the Spring of 2021, we worked with Microsoft to obtain two 100G interconnections rather than adding two more 10G connections. With our ability to demonstrate the growing demand for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute services in the Ashburn area, Microsoft worked to obtain approval for the 100G upgrades for that site. 

The upgrade will have no effect on any existing I2CC Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute connections in Ashburn. As with all Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute services offered by Internet2, the new 100G service will provide resiliency and redundancy in support of our subscribers’ demands.

Supporting R&E Community with I2CC

Access to these expanded 100G paths for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute will be a significant enhancement for the I2CC service. With 100G of capacity on a single connection, we have the ability to establish connections immediately with up to 10G of capacity, and will not need to wait for the physical cross-connects that are typical as each 10G path reaches its capacity.  

Subscribers will be able to have their connections provisioned using the I2CC Portal, which automates the provisioning process. The 100G interconnections will also take advantage of the capacity readily available with the deployment of the Internet2 Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) network upgrade. 

We have begun exploring other benefits that 100G access may bring to the I2CC service. Researchers have expressed the desire to deploy up to 10G connections for just a short time in order to access massive amounts of GPU cycles. The 100G connections have the potential to provide access to such network capacity elasticity. 

With the 100G connections to Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, we are considering offering 10G connections via I2CC, for a fee similar to the Rapid Private Interconnect (RPI) service. Should a subscriber require a dedicated 10G or 100G connection, NGI will soon accommodate such RPI connections that can be used with Microsoft’s ExpressRoute Direct.

If you have questions regarding I2CC and the newly expanded capacity to Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, contact cloudconnect_request@internet2.edu.