IRVING, Texas, April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- BT and Microsoft announced today a global agreement to provide customers with high performance and more secure connectivity to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's public cloud platform, with Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute. Customers will be able to take advantage of the flexibility and agility offered by cloud resources, with the assurance of a dedicated, more secure connection to their data and applications. Azure ExpressRoute allows customers to bypass the public Internet when connecting to Azure through a private connection based on BT's IP Connect VPN service. As a result, enterprise customers have a seamless, hybrid IT environment encompassing their corporate networks, data centers and the Azure cloud platform. BT's IP Connect VPN service, which is available in 198 countries and territories, integrates the Azure infrastructure directly with the wide area networks of customers. Customers will benefit from lower latency, more predictable performance and enhanced security for Azure workloads. The service is due to go live in summer 2014 in Europe through direct network connectivity to Microsoft Azure data centers in Dublin and Amsterdam. This will be followed by connections in Asia, then by additional locations around the world. Luis Alvarez, CEO, BT Global Services, said "IT departments everywhere face the same challenge; Cloud offers them the benefits of flexibility and lower costs, but security and reliability of access to data and applications remain main barriers to adoption. We will help customers build on their hybrid cloud strategies by bringing together BT's expertise and global network with the Azure platform. They will benefit from a globally consistent, more secure and reliable solution, helping them innovate and compete in the global market." Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International, said "Microsoft and BT have an established history of delivering cloud solutions that meet the evolving needs of business across many industries. Today's announcement is yet another example of the two companies joining forces to help customers embrace cloud on their terms, by providing a more secure and reliable way to take advantage of the speed, flexibility and scale of hybrid solutions." This new agreement builds on a long established relationship between the companies. In 2013 BT was awarded Office 365 Syndication Growth Partner of the Year. BT was also among the very first globally to provide Lync as a private cloud service.