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Cloud datacentres to house 92% of workloads by 2020, predicts Cisco

Networking giant Cisco’s latest Global Cloud Index shines a light on how the growth of off-premise services is affecting the datacentre market

The growing demand for cloud and online services means 92% of applications and workloads will run in large-scale, cloud datacentres by 2020, according to Cisco researchers.

The networking giant’s sixth annual Global Cloud Index report contains a series of forecasts charting how enterprise and consumer use of off-premise services is set to change between now and 2020, and the impact this is likely to have on enterprise and hyperscale datacentres.

As such, the report predicts the amount of cloud-based IP traffic will rise from 3.9 zettabytes to 14.1 zettabytes by 2020, as enterprises and consumers ramp up their use of off-premise apps and services in the years to come.

Meanwhile, the amount of traffic passing through traditional, enterprise datacentres will hit 1.3 zettabytes by 2020, up from 827 exabytes per year in 2015.

By 2020, this means just 8% of workloads are likely to run in private datacentres, while remaining ones will be hosted in hyperscale, cloud datacentres.

In a further examination of this data, Cisco said it expects around 68% of workloads to run in public cloud datacentres by 2020, up from 49% in 2015. Meanwhile, 32% will be hosted in private cloud facilities, which represents a marked drop from 51% last year.

For the first time, Cisco’s research team has used the report to provide a breakdown of how the rise of hyperscale datacentres – typified by the huge, largely automated and software-defined server farms operated by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google – is affecting the cloud market.

Between 2015 and 2020, Cisco believes the number of hyperscale datacentres in the world will increase from 259 to 485, coinciding with a quintuple rise in the amount of network traffic being routed to them.

On the back of this, it is predicted that hyperscale facilities will house around 47% of the world’s total installed datacentre servers, and support 53% of all datacentre traffic by 2020.

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While much has been made about the impact the internet of things (IoT), Cisco’s research predicts only modest change in this area by 2020.

To back this point, it predicts the IoT, along with analytics and database workloads will make up 22% of all business workloads, which is 2% up on 2015.

While Cisco acknowledges that IoT will be the source of massive amounts of data as more devices come online, at this stage it is unclear how much of that information will need to be stored in datacentres and how much will be processed locally on devices.

“Globally, data generated (but not necessarily stored) by IoT will reach 600 ZB per year by 2020, 275 times higher than projected traffic going from datacentres to users/devices,” the report said.

Doug Webster, vice-president of service provider marketing at Cisco, said the report highlights how far the cloud market, and user adoption of its services, has come over the past few years.

“Cloud computing has advanced from an emerging technology to an essential scalable and flexible part of architecture for service providers of all types around the globe,” he said.

“Powered by video, IoT, SDN/NFV and more, we forecast this significant cloud migration and the increased amount of network traffic generated as a result to continue at a rapid rate as operators streamline infrastructures to help them more profitably deliver IP-based services businesses and consumers alike.

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