Equinix, Inc. has announced that the company has experienced tremendous growth in the number of enterprise customers accessing Azure in Equinix's International Business ExchangeTM (IBX®) data centers around the globe. As one of the first data center providers to deliver direct access to Microsoft's cloud services on a global scale, Equinix has enabled enterprise customers to speed hybrid- and multi-cloud deployments by directly connecting to Azure in Equinix data centers across five continents including North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

"By providing direct access to Azure via ExpressRoute inside Equinix data centers, we are enabling companies to bridge their cloud and data center strategies and fully realize the benefits of hybrid and multi-cloud. Since we began offering the Microsoft solution just over a year ago, we have witnessed significant growth in connections and companies increasingly benefit from the scale, flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the cloud — all without the complexities associated with traditional network connections," by Chris Sharp, vice president, cloud innovation, Equinix.

In the past year, availability of this direct access offering has expanded to 16 markets, and Equinix has facilitated hundreds of connections to Azure via Platform Equinix, and specifically Equinix Cloud Exchange™. Businesses are recognizing the power of direct access to improve cloud and application performance while maintaining enterprise-grade security and reliability. Recent Equinix customers taking advantage of private access to Azure include GE, HarperCollins, Hitachi Data Systems, and Red Lobster, among others. Equinix CTO, Ihab Tarazi, will be discussing the company's success with Microsoft today at 10:30 a.m., EDT, at Microsoft's WPC Conference during a session titled, "Growing your Business with Azure."

Equinix is also working closely with service provider channel partners including Datapipe, Unitas Global and ScienceLogic to develop custom solutions that further help enterprises create hybrid clouds, maximizing the public cloud through Azure and ExpressRoute, paired with dedicated on-premise infrastructure and services inside Equinix. For example, a large, multi-national retail provider recently approached Unitas Global and Equinix looking to implement a public/private cloud solution to power their point of sale system. The solution combined a private global VPN network with private cloud infrastructure located in Equinix and Microsoft Azure computing resources. This enabled the retailer's custom software applications to run independently of any physical infrastructure, decreasing cost and increasing IT flexibility. In addition, the company had a very short timeframe to accomplish the project, and by using Azure cloud resources, time to deploy was cut to less than three weeks.

More than one hundred companies are currently on the Equinix Cloud Exchange, the company's interconnection solution that brings cloud and network service providers together with enterprises through private, security-enhanced and high-performance connections. Since launching the service in 2014, Equinix has facilitated hundreds of connections to Azure taking place on Cloud Exchange. The company also offers a number of flexible interconnection offerings, including Cross Connects (dedicated fiber cables), Internet exchange (carrier grade switches connecting many providers) within the data center, and Metro Connect (dedicated Layer 1 and switch-based Layer 2 services) between data centers in the same metro.

Equinix recently announced that it will be one of the first companies to offer private, managed connections to Microsoft Office 365, including Skype for Business, via ExpressRoute through the Equinix Cloud Exchange.

Hybrid cloud deployment is on the rise among enterprise customers. In fact, according to Robert Mahowald, program vice president at IDC and head of the SaaS & Cloud Services practice, "More than 65% of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud technologies before 2016, vastly driving the rate and pace of change in IT organizations."

Azure is used by 57% of the Fortune 500, and according to a recent report by Synergy Research is experiencing 96% year-over-year growth, and is second in overall market share for cloud infrastructure services.

Access to Azure via ExpressRoute on Equinix Cloud Exchange is currently available in 16 markets globally, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Amsterdam, London, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo, with Osaka being added later in 2015.