Global datacentre traffic is set to grow threefold and reach 7.7ZB (zettabytes) annually by 2017, according to a Cisco study.
The study also forecast that cloud traffic, the fastest growing component of datacentre traffic, will rise from 1.2ZB in 2012 to 5.3ZB by 2017.
A zettabyte is one billion terabytes, and 7.7ZB is equivalent to eight trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming.
Global datacentre traffic in 2012 was 2.6ZB, but is predicted to grow at 25% annually until 2017 to exceed 7ZB, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index (2012-2017).
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The study estimated that global cloud traffic will grow faster (at 35%) than overall global datacentre traffic as enterprises and users make greater use of cloud services, making it the biggest source of datacentre traffic.
Globally, cloud traffic will grow from 46% of total datacentre traffic in 2012 to 69% by 2017, accounting for more than two-thirds of datacentre traffic.
Global cloud traffic will grow faster than overall global datacentre traffic, making it the biggest source of datacentre traffic
Cisco Global Cloud Index
Approximately 17% of datacentre traffic will be fuelled by end users accessing clouds for web surfing, video streaming, collaboration and connected devices, the third annual Cisco study revealed.
For the period 2012–2017, Cisco forecast that 7% of datacentre traffic will be generated between datacentres themselves, primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates.
The majority (76%) of traffic will stay within the datacentre and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data in a virtualised environment.
"People all over the world continue to demand the ability to access personal, business and entertainment content anywhere on any device, and each transaction in a virtualised, cloud environment can cause cascading effects on the network,” said Doug Merritt, senior vice-president, product and solutions marketing at Cisco.
“Because of this continuing trend, we are seeing huge increases in the amount of cloud traffic within, between and beyond datacentres over the next four years," he said.
2014 will be the first year when the majority of workloads shift to the cloud, with 51% of all workloads processed in the cloud versus 49% in the traditional IT space
From a regional perspective, the Cisco study predicted that through 2017, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (57%), followed by Asia-Pacific (43%) and Central and Eastern Europe (36%).
The study also revealed the trends in workload transitions between 2012 and 2017. It found that 2014 will be the first year when the majority of workloads shift to the cloud, with 51% of all workloads processed in the cloud versus 49% in the traditional IT space.
By 2017, nearly two-thirds (63%) of workloads will be processed by cloud datacentres and only 37% will be processed by traditional datacentres, it estimated.
Globally, except in the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific, traditional datacentre workloads (rather than cloud workloads) will grow at a low-single-digit compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2017, the Cisco study further estimated.