Microsoft is providing an alternate route for connecting to Office 365 services such as SharePoint--avoiding the Internet and all the bumps in the road that come with it. Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 gives companies a private, managed network connection to Office 365 that will, according to Microsoft, provide more predictable network performance, an SLA for guaranteed availability and additional data privacy.

In a blog post, Microsoft announced that Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 is generally available from the following network operators:

  • British Telecom
  • Equinix
  • Tata Communications
  • TeleCity Group
  • Verizon

There are a variety of ways that companies can establish a connection, according to the blog. For example, if your organization already uses ExpressRoute, you can ask your network operator to simply enable the connection. Organizations using an IP VPN can request that Office 365 be added as a node on the WAN. ExpressRoute also supports large or point-to-point connections, according to Microsoft. 

Connectivity is available for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business Online, Azure Active Directory, Office 365 Video, Power BI, Delve and Project Online. Microsoft notes that ExpressRoute does not provide connectivity to downloads of Office 365 ProPlus installation files, Yammer, Domain Name Service and Content Delivery Network servers.

Microsoft is making tools available for QoS and network performance testing. Organizations interested in purchasing ExpressRoute for Office 365 should contact an Azure ExpressRoute partner.