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October 23, 2012

Cisco News - Global Data Center, Cloud Traffic Growing at Unprecedented Rates

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

As cloud traffic continues to proliferate all over the world, global data center traffic is expected to grow fourfold and reach a total of 6.6 zettabytes annually by 2016, according to the latest statistics released by Cisco (News - Alert).

Perhaps even more significant, is that global cloud traffic, the fastest-growing component of data center traffic, is forecast to grow six-fold – a 44 percent combined annual growth rate (CAGR) – from 683 exabytes of annual traffic in 2011 to 4.3 zettabytes by 2016. From a regional perspective, in its second annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011-2016), the company predicts Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate.

Cisco’s most recent forecast confirms that strong growth in data center usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by users’ increasing desire to access personal and business content from anywhere, on any device, according to Doug Merritt, senior vice president, Corporate Marketing, Cisco.

Image via Shutterstock

“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,” Merritt said in a company statement.

For context, Cisco said 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.
  • Seven 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.

Cisco said the vast majority of the data center traffic is not caused by end users, but by data centers and cloud-computing workloads used in activities that are virtually invisible to individuals.

From 2011 to 2016, Cisco predicts data center workloads will grow 2.5-fold; cloud workloads will grow 5.3-fold. In 2011, 30 percent of workloads were processed in the cloud, with 70 percent being handled in a traditional data center.

While many analysts contend cloud has moved past the “hype” phase, Cisco said 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.

In addition, for the period 2011-2016, Cisco forecasts that roughly 76 percent of data center traffic will stay within the data center and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data. An additional seven percent of data center traffic will be generated between data centers, primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates. The remaining 17 percent of data center traffic will be fueled by end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, e-mailing and video streaming.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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