Cloud computing traffic to grow 12-fold by 2015

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).

One zettabyte is equal to a sextillion bytes or a trillion gigabytes―1.6 zettabytes is approximately equivalent to:

  • 22 trillion hours of streaming music.
  • 5 trillion hours of business Web conferencing with a webcam.
  • 1.6 trillion hours of online HD video streaming.

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 non-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.

Data center traffic sources:

  • Of the data center traffic in 2015, 76 percent stays within the data center itself, through such activities as storage and authentication across virtual machines.
  • 17 percent is data-center traffic being delivered to end users.
  • 7 percent is generated between data centers through activities such as backup and replication.

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.

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.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index is generated from a modeling and analysis of various primary and secondary sources, including more than 30 terabytes of data generated each month over the past year from a variety of data centers around the globe, measurements of more than 45 million broadband-speed tests and third-party market forecasts.

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