In its inaugural Cisco Global Cloud Index (2010 – 2015) issued today, Cisco estimates global cloud computing traffic will grow 12-fold from 130 exabytes to reach a total of 1.6 zettabytes annually by 2015, a 66 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). 1.6 zettabytes is approximately equivalent to 1.6 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming.
                 
Cloud is the fastest growing component of data center traffic, which itself will grow 4-fold at a 33 percent CAGR to reach 4.8 zettabytes annually by 2015. Cloud is also estimated today to be 11 percent of data center traffic, growing to more than 33 percent of the total by 2015. Cloud is becoming a critical element for the future of information technology (IT) and delivery of video and content.

The vast majority of the data center traffic is not caused by end users but by the data centers and clouds themselves undertaking activities that are largely transparent to end users, like backup and replication. By 2015, 76 percent of data center traffic will remain within the data center itself as workloads migrate between various virtual machines and background tasks take place, 17 percent of the total traffic leaves the data center to be delivered to the end user, while an additional 7 percent of total traffic is generated between data centers through activities such as cloud-bursting, data replication and updates.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2010 – 2015) was developed to estimate global data center and cloud-based Internet Protocol traffic growth and trends. As the network and data center are becoming intrinsically linked in the delivery of cloud services, this study complements existing network traffic studies to provide new insights and visibility into the emerging trends affecting data center and cloud architectures.

Additional highlights from the report:

  • Greater virtualization and improved economies of scale will be a key driver of the cloud transition.                    
  • The transition to cloud services is driving global cloud traffic at a growth rate that is twice as great as global data center traffic.
  • Cloud data centers offer better performance, higher utilization and greater ease of management than traditional data centers. Virtualization serves as a major catalyst in enabling hardware and software consolidation, greater automation and an integrated security approach.                    
  • Due predominately to the rise in video-based consumer services, data-center-to-user traffic has some significant peaks in activity. Much like prime time viewing hours, average amount of data center traffic per hour during peak periods is expected to rise up to 2.5 times, requiring the need to plan for additional capacity from data centers and the cloud as well as from the network. The on-demand model of cloud is perfectly suited to serve this type of variable demand.
  • In 2010, 21 percent of workloads were processed in a cloud-based data center with 79 percent being handled in a traditional data center.
  • 2014 is the first year where the balance of workloads shifts toward the cloud for the first time — 51 percent of total workloads will be in a cloud environment versus 49 percent in the traditional IT space.

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