Service announcements

Saving money on ExpressRoute

(This blog post was originally written by James Blessing as part of Jisc’s Shaping the Future of Janet blog).

A number of organisations connected to Janet use ExpressRoute to create a dedicated connection from their campus to the Microsoft Azure Platform, others choose to use the multiple high capacity peerings that we have with Microsoft because their requirements are much smaller and a dedicated ExpressRoute connection just doesn’t cost in.

With the introduction of OCRE, Microsoft have announced that they are removing the substantial 65% discount from their standard ExpressRoute option at the end of the year, however, there is a way for users of the service to avoid a hefty increase in costs, although you might need to make a few changes to the way you use and configure your services.

First, a quick explanation about how ExpressRoute works from a Janet perspective and the three types of ExpressRoute that you can buy from Microsoft and then we’ll cover how you can adapt your current setup to potentially save some money.

When you buy a Cloud Connect from Jisc we set up either a dedicated or shared private path across Janet from your organisation to an appropriate datacentre where we have connectivity with Microsoft and present the connection across the infrastructure into the Azure platform. As a customer of Microsoft, the ordering organisation then chooses the exact ExpressRoute SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit) to reflect the bandwidth required and the exact configuration type needed. These two elements are separate and can be independently adjusted as required, we recommend that you make the changes at the same time but it does mean, for example, that the A-end site [1] can be changed without having to change the ExpressRoute SKU.

Microsoft has three different major SKUs for ExpressRoute with the major difference being about which Zones are classed as being included in the price:

  • ExpressRoute Standard – Provides access to the local region, so for a Newport, London and Slough based connection it gives access to the UK South, UK West, West Europe (Amsterdam), North Europe (Dublin) zones
  • ExpressRoute Premium – Provides access to all global zones in the price
  • ExpressRoute Local – Provides access only to the local zone, for London & Slough that’s UK South and for Newport, it’s UK West

There is a range of other differences, such as limits on the number of virtual routes supported or connectivity to Microsoft 365, but the issue under consideration here is the cost. You can still reach the other regions and zones but the are substantial costs involved in doing so.

So how do I save some money then?

The quickest route to save some money is to move to use ExpressRoute Local rather than Standard or Premium, this will work where you have all of your estate in a single Zone but for those who need multiple zones then you could consider moving so that you have some in UK West and UK South, have ExpressRoutes into each of those two zones and then using the Microsoft network to transfer between two availability zones across the Azure infrastructure.

For more information please contact your account manager who can arrange a consultation with the cloud team and they can work out what’s the most cost-effective solution taking in your exact requirements.

[1] A circuit is normally described as having an A and B-end to make it easier for the operator of the network to clarify which end of the circuit is being discussed. In this case, the A-end is the Janet connection where the service is delivered to the user. It could be either shared on a Janet IP connection or a dedicated link.

By Andy Powell

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