Equinix today announces a partnership with Microsoft Azure whereby Equinix will render Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute available to 16 global markets by means of Equinix’s data centers. Equinix represents the first datacenter provider to facilitate such a significant global expansion of Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, a service that allows Azure customers to connect datacenters to the Azure cloud by means of a private, non public-internet based, low latency connection that claims benefits such as improved connection reliability, performance and security. Currently, Equinix boasts over 100 International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers all over the world that are home to the infrastructure of more than 450 cloud service providers. Equinix is no stranger to facilitating connections between enterprise infrastructures and the cloud services of public cloud vendors as exemplified by a recent case study featuring Foursquare, which used Equinix to create a hybrid cloud environment marked by the addition of a private cloud to its Amazon Web Services-hosted public cloud infrastructure. Foursquare’s creation of a hybrid cloud environment to accommodate its growth was simplified because of the availability of Amazon Web Services Direct Connect within the Equinix data center that housed Foursquare’s private cloud. Similarly, in the case of Microsoft Azure, because the “physical infrastructure for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute resides in Equinix’s data centers,” existing Equinix customers can reap the benefits of low latency, high throughput connections that are enabled by the connection to Azure through a data center within the Equinix ecosystem. In addition to rendering Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute available in data centers in Ashburn, VA and San Jose, Ca, Equinix plans to make the service available in data centers in London, Hong Kong and Singapore in 2014 as told to Cloud Computing Today in a phone interview with Chris Sharp, Equinix’s VP of Cloud Innovation. Equinix’s support of Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute stands to intensify the cloud wars between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services even further by bolstering the direct connection capabilities of Azure and thereby rendering the Azure platform more appealing to enterprise customers that are interested in a private, low latency, secure connection that avoids use of the public internet.