NTT customers in London will be able to benefit from a direct connection to ExpressRoute for Office 365 from January 2016. The service will be extended to Tokyo customers in February 2016. This extends the connectivity for NTT customers from Microsoft Azure and NTT has wider ambitions
The connection is not enabled via one of NTT’s Data Centres but instead through Arcstar Universal One, NTT.com’s MPLS network services. This may mean that the direct connect service will also be available to Dimension Data customers based not just in London but also across Europe, providing dedicated private bandwidth to Office 365.
This is just the first wave of connections to Office365 using the connectivity of Multi-Cloud Connect with Osaka and both the East and West coast of the USA following in March 2016. There are plans to connect other countries on the ArcStar network including Singapore. Arcstar Universal On VPN network reaches 196 countries/regions, and 140 secure data centers worldwide with connections in all the NTT Group of companies including Dimension Data, NTT DOCOMO and NTT DATA.
Multi-Cloud Connect was launched in August 2015 with connections to AWS and Azure, this connection to Office 365 may also impact some revenue for NTT. In March 2015 they announced UCaaS, Unified Communications as a service with offerings from both Cisco and Skype for Business. This direct connection to Microsoft will mean that some companies are likely to choose the direct offering from Microsoft rather than NTT’s offering.
Late to the party but aggressive expansion for ExpressRoute connections
NTT are not the first company to connect to Expressroute for Office 365 this year. Telecity, Equinix and Verizon have all launched an ExpressRoute to Office connection with Microsoft in September this year with Equinix offering multi region connections similar to the NTT plans. While this may not be a reaction to the recent announcement by Equinix that it is seeking to become the global interconnected cloud player with its Interconnection Orientated Architecture it does show that NTT is moving forward in this space.
What will be interesting is whether NTT start offering connections to other vendors the Equinix has connected to such as Salesforce and Google. This seems unlikely but NTT will need to pick a strategy for its interconnections and with Equinix set to grow substantially once the Telecity Group acquisition is finalised it will be interesting to see whether NTT make further announcements in the near future.
While this is a positive announcement for NTT one shouldn’t forget the company most benefiting, Microsoft. Over the last year Microsoft seems to have reached a connection agreement with most of the major data centre operators and carriers for ExpressRoute connectivity. This should allay the concerns of corporates looking to deploy Office 365 solutions as it means they will not need to build additional circuits for private cloud connectivity.
Where does this leave Google Apps? There have been few announcements around dedicated connections to the Google cloud over the last year and while Google Apps has gained a bit of traction, much of this is due to price offerings by Google that has seen its price drop. Major announcements about Enterprises moving to Google Apps have been in short supply and it will be interesting to see whether there are details about cloud subscriptions in the next results.
For NTT customers this announcement is good news and it will be interesting to see the take-up. For Global customers they should be able to start planning migrations to Office 365 should they wish to do so using their existing NTT network and data centres.
What is perhaps most surprising is that NTT is to launch the initial service in London which may be because they already have customers clamouring for the connection there already. With Microsoft due to open up data centres in the UK in 2016 it is a smart move to be ready to offer a low latency service to UK customers.