Global cloud traffic, the fastest growing component of data center traffic, is expected to grow 4.5-fold—a 35 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR)—from 1.2 zettabytes of annual traffic in 2012 to 5.3 zettabytes by 2017, according to a study from communications and networking specialist Cisco.
Globally, cloud traffic will grow from 46 percent of total data center traffic (98 exabytes per month or 1.2 zettabytes annually) of total data center traffic in 2012 to 69 percent of total data center traffic (443 exabytes per month or 5.3 zettabytes annually) of total data center traffic by 2017. A zettabyte is one billion terabytes.
Approximately 17 percent of data center traffic will be fueled by users accessing clouds for Web surfing, video streaming, collaboration and connected devices, all of which contribute to the Internet of everything, commonly referred to as the networked connection of people, data, process and things.
In 2012, 39 percent of workloads were processed in the cloud, with 61 percent being handled in a traditional data center. The report also predicted that 2014 would be the first year when the majority of workloads shift to the cloud, with just more than half (51 percent) of all workloads will be processed in the cloud versus 49 percent in the traditional IT space.
By 2017, nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers, while 37 percent will be processed by traditional data centers.
For the period between 2012 and 2017, Cisco forecasts that 7 percent of data center traffic will be generated between data centers, primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates. An additional 76 percent of data center traffic will stay within the data center and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data in a virtualized 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 virtualized, cloud environment can cause cascading effects on the network," Doug Merritt, senior vice president of product and solutions marketing for Cisco, said in a statement. "Because of this continuing trend, we are seeing huge increases in the amount of cloud traffic within, between and beyond data centers over the next four years."
In 2012, North America had the most cloud workloads (15.2 million or 47 percent of global cloud workloads), followed by Asia Pacific, which had 6.8 million or 21 percent of global workloads in 2012. By 2017, North America is expected to process the most cloud workloads (48.2 million or 41 percent of global cloud workloads), followed by Asia Pacific, which will have 36.5 million or 31 percent of global workloads by 2017.
From a regional perspective, the Cisco Global Cloud Index predicted that through 2017, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (57 percent CAGR), followed by Asia Pacific (43 percent CAGR) and Central and Eastern Europe (36 percent CAGR).