Q. Explain the differences between a Network Services Provider (NSP) and Exchange Provider (EXP) when using ExpressRoute.
A. ExpressRoute provides a dedicated connection between your network and Microsoft services with most focus being on Azure services however it is also possible to connect to services such as Office 365. There are two types of connectivity available and the major points are outlined below:
- A point-to-point connection using a partner such as Equinix. Either equipment is housed in the partner location or your on-premises network is expanded into the providers location by hosting some equipment in their premises and then that network is crossed over to the Azure network. This requires additional network infrastructure.
- Various bandwidths are available up to 10 GB at time of writing
- There are various throughput tiers with separate egress data charges
- The routing is completely under the customers control and also has the ability to customize any of in-line devices such as routing and security devices
- Because of the additional network equipment and configuration there is some time required to deploy connectivity through an EXP
Network Service Provider
- Uses the existing MPLS service based on multi-point connectivity enabling connection from any site
- Various bandwidths are available up to 1 GB at time of writing
- Various throughput tiers with unlimited egress
- Routing is managed by the NSP
- Customization of routing and devices is very limited since the service is delivered by the NSP
- Because this is really just a logical change and no additional physical changes required this can be deployed very quickly
If your organization has a single location then the EXP path gives you that point-to-point and most flexibility in terms of the routing. If your organization has many different locations then the NSP may be a better fit since it is multipoint based however if you already have connectivity for all locations then EXP may still be preferred because of the additional configurability over the routing and additional equipment possibilities.