Booming cloud traffic to pass 4.3 trillion gigabytes a year by 2016

Asia Pacific to take the lead for the most traffic.

Data traffic in the data centres which provide cloud computing services will grow by sixfold by 2016, a study by global networking company Cisco has found. Traffic generated by cloud computing would account for nearly two-thirds of information travelling within and between global data centres.

The second Global Cloud Index analysed and forecast global data centre traffic would increase fourfold to a total of 6.6 zettabytes by 2016 with cloud traffic being the fastest-growing component. (A zettabyte is more than 1 trillion gigabytes or 1 billion terabytes. For comparison, 6.6 zettabytes is equivalent to watching 7 trillion hours of high-definition video on YouTube.)

The study reported that the amount of cloud traffic in the Asia Pacific region would take the lead and surpass North America by 2016 at 1.5 zettabytes a year. The Middle East and Africa would have the highest growth rate for cloud traffic with 79 percent compounded annual growth.

The number of “workloads”, or operating applications, would grow at 5.3 times a year in the cloud versus 2.5 time a year in traditional data centres, the study predicted. In a year’s time businesses will run the majority of workloads in the cloud and by 2016 nearly two-thirds of all workloads will be processed in the cloud.

The Asia Pacific would also pass North America in this metric as well, leaping from 32 percent of global workloads to 36 percent by 2016. 

“The vast majority of the data centre traffic is not caused by end users but by data centres and cloud-computing workloads used in activities that are virtually invisible to individuals,” Cisco said in a release.

For the period 2011-2016, Cisco forecast that three quarters of data centre traffic would stay within the data centre and largely be generated by storage, production and development data.

An additional 7 percent of data centre traffic would be generated between data centres, primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates. The remaining 17 percent of data centre traffic would be fueled by end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, emailing and video streaming.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011-2016) was developed to estimate global data centre and cloud-based Internet Protocol (IP) traffic growth and trends.

The index was generated by modeling and analysis of various primary and secondary sources, including 40 terabytes of traffic data sampled from a variety of global data centres over the past year; results from more than 90 million network tests over the past two years; and third-party market research reports.

“This year’s forecast confirms that strong growth in data centre usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by our growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device,” said Doug Merritt, Cisco’s senior vice president of corporate marketing in a release.

About Sholto Macpherson

Sholto Macpherson is a business technology journalist specialising in cloud software. He lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

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