Cisco Global Cloud Index: Data Center Traffic to Expand 4X, Cloud Traffic 6X

Global data center traffic will expand four-fold to reach a total 6.6 zettabytes (one zetabyte [ZB] equals 1 billion terabytes [TB]) annually by 2016, according to the second annual Cisco Global Cloud Index, which was released Oct. 23. The fastest growing component of overall data center traffic, global cloud traffic will grow six-fold-a 44% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), from 683 exabytes annually in 2011 to 4.3 zettabytes by 2016, Cisco predicts.

Providing some practical perspective, Cisco points out that 6.6 zettabytes is equivalent to:

  • 92 trillion hours of streaming music - Equivalent to about 1.5 years of continuous music streaming for the world's population in 2016.
  • 16 trillion hours of business Web conferencing - Equivalent to about 12 hours of daily Web conferencing for the world's workforce in 2016.
  • 7 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming - Equivalent to about 2.5 hours of daily streamed HD video for the world's population in 2016.

According to Cisco, the vast majority of this traffic is invisible to end users-it's traffic that's part-and-parcel of data center and cloud-computing workloads. Roughly 76% of data center traffic will actually stay within the data center and "will be largely generated by storage, production and development data," Cisco says.

Another 7% will be generated between data centers, driven primarily by data replication and software/system updates. The remaining 17% will be from end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, email and video streaming.

"This year's forecast confirms that strong growth in data center usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by our growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device," commented Doug Merritt, Cisco senior vice president, Corporate Marketing. "When you couple this growth with projected increases in connected devices and objects, the next-generation Internet will be an essential component to enabling much greater data center virtualization and a new world of interconnected clouds."

Also among the reports key predictions are:

  • In 2011, North America generated the most cloud traffic (261 exabytes annually); followed by Asia Pacific; (216 exabytes annually); and Western Europe (156 exabytes annually).
  • In 2011, North America had the most cloud workloads (8.1 million, or 38 percent of the global cloud workloads); followed by Asia Pacific, which had 6.7 million, or 32 percent of the global workloads in 2011.
  • In North America, traditional data center workloads will actually decline from 2011 to 2016 (from 18.3 million in 2011 to 17.4 million in 2016), falling to a negative 1 percent CAGR.
  • Global cloud traffic will account for nearly two-thirds of total global data center traffic.
  • 2014 will be the first year when the majority of workloads shift to the cloud; 52 percent of all workloads will be processed in the cloud versus 48 percent in the traditional IT space.
  • By 2016, 62 percent or nearly two-thirds of total workloads will be processed in the cloud.
Written by Kevin Kutcher at 09:00
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