European datacentre specialist TelecityGroup has ramped up its partnership with Microsoft to provide an array of different customers with improved connectivity to Windows Azure, via its ExpressRoute service.

To find out the implications of the move for Azure users and indeed TelecityGroup itself, we spoke to the firm's Managing Director to get the inside scoop.

TechRadar Pro: How will TelecityGroup be working with Microsoft?

Rob Coupland: TelecityGroup and Microsoft have a longstanding relationship, but new agreements will enable all of our customers - whatever the business - to access a dedicated and secure connection to Microsoft Azure.

ExpressRoute is a dedicated and secure connection into Windows Azure, facilitated by our own Cloud-IX platform, and offers scalable private and hybrid cloud deployments.

This is good news for our customers as it will enable direct, private connectivity from every site around Europe into public cloud services, creating true hybrid platforms which will power a host of user applications. We bring a huge European footprint to the partnership.

The 37 direct connected sites are located in some of Europe's hottest technology regions – with low latency connections in London, Dublin and Amsterdam - and for Microsoft Azure customers looking to increase their presence across the globe, this is a huge opportunity for them to do so leveraging the infrastructure and technology model that they've built their success on to-date.

It is a hugely exciting development and we're delighted to be able to offer this to our customers.

TRP: What can customers look forward to as part of the relationship?

RC: Increasingly, customers need flexibility around the makeup of their entire business and are looking at hybrid deployments to ensure that their IT environments are as flexible as possible. This is exactly what this partnership is enabling.

By utilising Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute through TelecityGroup Cloud-IX, businesses can continue to utilise our high quality data centres and increase agility when it comes to reacting to change, dealing with big data requirements (such as scaling up quickly) and building new services into their offering.

By expanding our partnership with Microsoft, we are able to offer our customers a secure, flexible and reliable connection to the Microsoft Azure cloud as they look to effectively address performance and security concerns often associated with the cloud, while still benefiting from the flexibility it provides.

TRP: What are the benefits of utilising ExpressRoute through TelecityGroup Cloud-IX?

RC: Microsoft Azure is a well-established platform but for businesses to utilise it up to now, they've needed to rely on the public internet.

With ExpressRoute now available through Cloud-IX, we've introduced a private element to that model enabling much better control over bandwidth and latency which allows for much tighter coupling.

With many enterprises looking to build out advanced hybrid cloud environments, this model represents a seamless bridge between public cloud providers and physical data centres.

This also means that when it comes to security, customers can have a very clear view of how and where their data is located, and where it's working. The key with hybrid environments is visibility and by working with both TelecityGroup and Microsoft Azure, customers know where their data is at all times.

TRP: Since its launch in 2013, how has the Cloud-IX platform developed?

RC: We're all about creating connectivity hubs and communities of interest. Our datacentres are the natural place for content providers and carriers to connect and cross-share services.

Increasingly, we're seeing cloud service providers (CSPs) connect with enterprises to activate genuine hybrid environments for those enterprises who rely on agility and bringing new services to market quickly in order to remain competitive.

With Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services now available on Cloud-IX, we may be working with the two biggest names in public cloud computing, yet we have a range of partners all bringing something different to the table and representing different options available to our customers.

Cloud-IX is all about ensuring that customers have the ability to select the right partner and the right platform for their unique needs.