Community Blog Connect Environments with Alibaba Cloud Express Connect – Part 2: Use Cases

Connect Environments with Alibaba Cloud Express Connect – Part 2: Use Cases

This article discusses Express Connect in a hybrid cloud environment and the different use-case and implementation scenarios.

By Shantanu Kaushik

In Part 1 of this series on Alibaba Cloud Express Connect, we discussed how Express Connect works. We also gave an overview of the information flow and the general benefits you can extract while using Alibaba Cloud Express Connect for connecting on-premises data centers to the cloud and while connecting Virtual Private Clouds to other VPCs.

In this article, we will showcase some of the use-case scenarios applicable to Alibaba Cloud Express Connect.

Alibaba Cloud Express Connect is based on the functionalities of Smart Access Gateway (SAG) and SD-WAN. Express Connect is an all-in-one network service that integrates high reliability, performance, and features available for dedicated physical connections.

Quick Tip: Smart Access Gateway is a Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) developed by Alibaba Cloud. Smart Access Gateway (SAG) provides a secure and reliable enterprise solution for migrating business workloads to the Alibaba Cloud Environment based on cloud-native technology.

Usage Scenarios | Express Connect | Alibaba Cloud

Scenario 1: Connecting an On-Premise Data Center to a VPC

Let's start by going through an architectural overview of how Express Connect is used to connect an on-premises data center to Alibaba Cloud Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).


Alibaba Cloud Express Connect can be used to bridge different network resources seamlessly. An on-premises data center can be efficiently connected using Express Connect to seamlessly share of data between two data centers. The data centers can be connected to different VPCs, and the Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) can be connected to other VPCs or data centers.

As depicted in the architectural diagram above, both data centers are connected to VPCs and share the same resources using Express Connect. We have depicted random video data shared on an on-premises data center. Two VPCs in different zones of the same region have access to this data using Express Connect. This data can be accessed as if it was a local resource.

Scenario 2: Call It Hybrid?

The evolution of cloud computing allowed the hybrid cloud to evolve. The technology stack and solution get upgraded together. With an Alibaba Cloud Hybrid Cloud setup, users can leverage the benefits of multiple products that come integrated with the solution. A hybrid cloud setup is dependent on uninterrupted connectivity.

Any new enterprise moving to the cloud or setting up a new infrastructure must consider the cloud as the computing option in this era. Migrating an existing business system to the cloud must be done in phases. Phased migration is useful to conserve core business values and practices. Here, a hybrid cloud setup is the optimum answer.

With the Hybrid Cloud setup, some of your computing solutions remain in-house, while some resources can be moved to the cloud. The chart below gives a clear idea:


This is a development model based on a hybrid cloud setup. It utilizes Alibaba Cloud Express Connect to connect backend systems that are located on-premises to Alibaba Cloud VPC. Express Connect links the two resources by establishing a secure communication channel between them. When it comes to the frontend, the hybrid model will easily communicate to the Internet to present the required information to the users.

Storage | Database | Hybrid Cloud | Express Connect

Alibaba Cloud offers Object Storage Service (OSS), Network Attached Storage (NAS), and other storage services for businesses and enterprises to leverage. If you are deploying using any of these storage services, you get cross-region disaster recovery and a redundant system automatically.

Enterprises that are gradually moving to the cloud should consider the hybridization of resources, the database, and storage. With a Hybrid Cloud setup, the linear databases can be easily migrated to Alibaba Cloud OSS or NAS, but the core-business database system must run from the on-premises data center.

In this scenario, Express Connect can be used to communicate between on-premises data centers, the database, and storage on Alibaba Cloud and any third-party services running for your business.

Let's take a look at the same scenario on the chart below. It shows the workflow of a user that intends to execute some information.


Scenario 3: Disaster Recovery

Let's start by looking at the architecture used to implement cross-region disaster recovery using Alibaba Cloud Express Connect.


In this scenario, we leverage the capabilities of Alibaba Cloud CEN along with Express Connect. Zone A and Zone B are connected to Alibaba Cloud Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Each zone has a Server Load Balancer (SLB), Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instance, and storage capability. This VPC is connected to two Alibaba Cloud locations using Express Connect. Express Connect utilizes the Virtual Border Router (VBR) to connect to on-premises data centers using leased lines.

This system is highly redundant. As you can see, the VPC is connected to two zones. Express Connect is connected to two locations, and at the end, two data centers are connected using two leased lines. An enterprise can rest peacefully as the whole system has redundancies set up at each phase. Express Connect can help swiftly replace and reroute any resource that malfunctions with the redundant resource already in place. These systems are synced to perform without any data loss.

Scenario 4: Non-Critical | Simple Network Architecture

In this scenario, heavy resource orchestration is not required. Unlike the complex business connectivity scenario depicted above, multiple redundancies at every stage are not required. Let's take a look at the architectural flow of this scenario on the chart below:


Alibaba Cloud Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) has two connected zones for an enterprise and is leveraging Alibaba Cloud CEN to avoid internet-based communication to connect to Express Connect. Express Connect is providing secure communication with the local data center.

This scenario is utilizing a basic set of services to provide computing and communication for non-critical business processes. However, that doesn't necessarily constitute a low-resource scenario. Even after deploying this method, it is a highly capable system. The difference between this scenario and the previous one is the applied redundancies that affect system availability.

Wrapping Up

Alibaba Cloud Express Connect makes it easy to set up secure communications between different network resources across regions and zones. Featuring high-availability and elasticity, Alibaba Cloud Express Connect enables enterprises to get things done without worrying about infrastructure management or maintenance. The amalgamation of solutions like Alibaba Cloud CEN and Express Connect, outshine any similar service and provides enterprises with a connectivity backbone to run and expand their businesses easily.

Upcoming Articles

  1. Cross Border Networks With Smart Access Gateway
  2. Connecting Resources With VPN Gateway
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