Datacentre traffic will grow four times by 2016, predicts Cisco

Global datacentre traffic will grow four times by 2016 to reach a total of 6.6 zettabytes annually, forecasts Cisco Systems’ Global Cloud Index

Global datacentre traffic will grow four times by 2016 to reach a total of 6.6 zettabytes annually, Cisco Systems’ Global Cloud Index has forecast. 

Cisco Systems’ Global Cloud Index also predicted that cloud traffic – a major component of datacentre traffic – will see the fastest and highest growth with a six-fold growth in four years.

Global cloud traffic will grow from 683 exabytes of annual traffic in 2011 to 4.3 zettabytes by 2016, a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44%. The Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud computing traffic growth rate (79% CAGR) in that time, Cisco’s study further showed.

The datacentre traffic in 2011 was 1.8 zettabytes. One zettabyte is approximately equal to a thousand exabytes or a billion terabytes. It will grow at 31% CAGR by 2016 to 6.6 zettabytes annually. To put this in context, 6.6 zettabytes is equivalent to 92 trillion hours of streaming music – or about 1.5 years of continuous music streaming for the world's population in 2016.

A majority of the datacentre traffic is caused by cloud-computing workloads used in activities that are virtually invisible to individuals, according to Cisco.

For five years between 2011 and 2016, around 76% of datacentre traffic will stay in the datacentre and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data, said Cisco.

Another 17% traffic will come from users accessing cloud-based applications for web surfing, emailing and video and audio streaming. The remaining 7% will be generated between datacentres, driven by data replication and system upgrades.

The forecast confirms strong growth in datacentre usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by users’ growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device, said Doug Merritt, senior vice-president of corporate marketing at Cisco.

“When you couple this growth with projected increases in connected devices and objects, the next-generation internet will be an essential component to enabling greater datacentre virtualisation and a new world of interconnected clouds," Merritt said.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011-2016) also predicted a shift in cloud momentum across various geographies. In 2011, North America had the most cloud workloads followed by Asia Pacific. But by 2016, Asia Pacific will overtake North America to process the most cloud workloads.

As for “cloud readiness”, only Western Europe has average network performance to support intermediate cloud-computing applications over mobile networks, according to Cisco.

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