Cisco: Personal, Business Traffic Going to the Cloud

In its latest Global Cloud Index, the networking giant expects that worldwide cloud traffic will quadruple between 2014 and 2019.

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Global network traffic from data centers will triple between 2014 and 2019, and the cloud traffic that makes up an increasingly larger portion of that will continue to grow, quadrupling during the same time frame, according to Cisco Systems officials.

In its fifth annual Global Cloud Index released this week, the networking giant said data center traffic worldwide will jump from 3.4 zettabytes last year to 10.4ZB in 2019 (a ZB is a 1 followed by 21 zeros). Global cloud traffic during that time will increase from 2.1ZB to 8.6ZB, driven in large part by the growing demand for personal clouds due to the increasing numbers of mobile devices, the rising use of public cloud services by businesses, and the growing use of virtualization in private clouds, which expands the density of the workloads.

The report "highlights the fact that cloud is moving well beyond a regional trend to becoming a mainstream solution globally," Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing at Cisco, said in a statement. "Enterprise and government organizations are moving from test cloud environments to trusting clouds with their mission-critical workloads. At the same time, consumers continue to expect on-demand, anytime access to their content and services nearly everywhere. This creates a tremendous opportunity for cloud operators, which will play an increasingly relevant role in the communications industry ecosystem."

The Internet of things (IoT)—which Cisco officials call the Internet of everything (IoE)—and the growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic also will contribute to the growth, according to the vendor. According to previously released numbers, Cisco officials are forecasting the number of connected devices and sensors that make up the IoT will jump from about 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020, and they will create massive amounts of data. They also expect the IoE will have a global financial impact on businesses of $19 trillion by 2020.

In the cloud index report, company officials said that, by 2019, the wide array of IoT applications will generate as much as 507.5ZB of data, or about 42.3ZB a month—49 times more than the projected data center traffic for that year.

Where that IoT data is stored will shift over time, officials said. Currently, only a small fraction resides in the data center. However, as application demand grows and more businesses use big data analytics to derive business value out of the content, more of the data will be stored in data centers.

In addition, as more consumers use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the data stored on client devices will migrate toward these systems. Right now, 73 percent of data stored on a client device is housed on PCs. By 2019, 51 percent will be stored on non-PC devices, and as the volume of stored data rises, it will lead to greater use of consumer cloud storage. By 2019, 55 percent of the residential Internet population will use personal cloud storage (that number was at 42 percent last year). Cisco is forecasting that, by 2017, the global smartphone traffic of 201 exabytes a year will surpass the amount of data stored (196EB) on those devices, illustrating the need for more personal storage in the cloud.

Businesses will continue to embrace the use of public clouds, even as they build out their private cloud capabilities, Cisco officials said. According to the index, public cloud workloads will grow 44 percent over the five-year time period, while private clouds will grow at 16 percent. By 2019, 56 percent of cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers—up from 30 percent in 2014—while 44 percent will be in private cloud data centers, down from 70 percent last year.