Data Centers

Cloud traffic to jump 262% by 2020, according to Cisco Global Cloud Index

Cloud data center traffic will rise astronomically, from 3.9 ZB in 2015 to 14.1 ZB by 2020, representing 92% of all data center traffic, according to a new Cisco report.

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Image: iStock/scanrail

The cloud is going to benefit from increased migration to cloud architectures and the ability to scale quickly and support more workloads than traditional data centers, resulting in a 262% increase in data center traffic from 2015 to 2020, according to the new Cisco Global Cloud Index released today.

"The IT industry has taken cloud computing from an emerging technology to an essential scalable and flexible networking solution. With large global cloud deployments, operators are optimizing their data center strategies to meet the growing needs of businesses and consumers," said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing, Cisco, in a press release. "We anticipate all types of data center operators continuing to invest in cloud-based innovations that streamline infrastructures and help them more profitably deliver web-based services to a wide range of end users."

The amount of data sent to the cloud will total 14.1 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020, compared to 3.9 ZB in 2015, according to the report.

The report also included the impact of hyperscale data centers. A hyperscale data center is a data center that has billions of dollars in revenue either from Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service, or e-commerce or other services such as general search (e.g., Google), explained Thomas Barnett, director of SP forecast and trends for Cisco.

"This is the first year we've been able to quantify the number of hyperscale data centers. That's important because of the growth and consolidation," Barnett said.

The number of hyperscale data centers is expected to increase from 259 in 2015 to 485 in 2020. These mega data centers will house 47% of all data center servers, 68% of all data center processing power, 57% of all data stored in data centers, and 53% of all data center traffic, Barnett explained.

SEE: In the future of the data center, IBM is betting big on cognitive computing (TechRepublic)

Globally, the largest growth in data center traffic will be in the Middle East and Africa, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34%. This growth is due in part to the fact that this region has the smallest amount of data center traffic in 2015, with just 105 exabytes; this will grow to 451 exabytes by 2020, Barnett said.

Cloud data center traffic in North America is expected to grow from 2.2 ZB to 7.1 ZB from 2015 to 2020, for a CAGR of 27%, according to the report.

One reason for the increase is that data centers have become a hub for for not just business and consumer data but also the delivery of services such as Netflix, Barnett said. "We found there were 900 exabytes of data stored in data centers, and 5.2 zettabytes of data stored in devices, and 600 zettabytes of data created everywhere," said Arielle Sumits, Cisco senior analyst.

"We realized there was a ton of data just being created that isn't being stored. Some of that will always be the case, that it doesn't need to be stored, whether status pings or things relevant in the moment but not later on. My favorite examples are connected cars and planes and medical imaging. That's not usually thought of as M2M (machine to machine), but it's a compelling example," Sumits said.

"Cars can generate about 25Gb per hour and the amount saved is in the tens of megabytes per hour, but the amount captured is usually less than 1%," she said.

Other report findings include:

  • By 2020, business workloads will account for 72% (344.5 million) of total data center workloads, compared to 79% (142.3 million) in 2015.
  • By 2020, compute workloads will account for 29% of total business workloads, compared to 28% in 2015.
  • By 2020, collaboration workloads will account for 24% of total business workloads, compared to 25% in 2015.
  • By 2020, database/analytics/Internet of Things (IoT) workloads will account for 22% of total business workloads, compared to 20% in 2015.

On the consumer side of things, the report found:

  • By 2020, consumer workloads will account for 28% (134.3 million) of total data center workloads, compared to 21% (38.6 million) in 2015.
  • By 2020, video streaming workloads will account for 34% of total consumer workloads, compared to 29% in 2015.
  • By 2020, social networking workloads will account for 24% of total consumer workloads, compared to 20% in 2015.
  • By 2020, search workloads will account for 15% of total consumer workloads, compared to 17% in 2015.

Three takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. By 2020, business workloads will account for 72% (344.5 million) of total data center workloads, compared to 79% (142.3 million) in 2015.
  2. Cloud data center traffic in North America is expected to grow from 2.2 ZB to 7.1 ZB from 2015 to 2020, for a CAGR of 27%, according to the report.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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