Forecast Predicts Cloud to Dominate Global Data Centre Traffic by 2017

Cisco’s third annual Global Cloud Index (GCI) forecast released some astounding findings recently. Most notably is the projection that global cloud traffic will grow 4.5 fold from 2012 to 2017, whilst global data centre is expected to grow threefold over the same period.

In addition, global cloud traffic will grow from 1.2 zettabytes in 2012 to 5.3 zettabytes in 2017, with a 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Global data centre traffic is projected to grow as well, but at a slower rate than cloud traffic – 25% CAGR – increasing from 2.6 zettabytes in 2012 to 7.7 zettabytes in 2017.

Cisco gives context to help us understand the magnitude of these numbers and state that 7.7 zettabytes is equivalent to 107 trillion hours of streaming music, which is about 1.5 years of continuous music streaming for the world’s population in 2017.



This research has also revealed that 2017 will see cloud traffic account for more than two thirds of global data centre traffic. In 2012, 54% of global data centre traffic came from traditional data centres, with the remaining 46% from cloud-based data centres. In 2017, cloud will account for 69% of global data centre traffic while traditional data centres will account for only 31%.


As data centre traffic continues to grow, the underlying infrastructure supporting traffic growth or workload will inevitably keep growing. Cisco forecasts that from 2102 to 2017, data centre workloads will grow 2.3 fold.

With the transition to the cloud, we will also see more workloads processed in the cloud. In 2012, 61% of all workloads were handled in a traditional data centre with only 39% of workloads processed in the cloud. Next year, we will see the majority of workloads shift to the cloud - 51% of all workloads will be processed in the cloud, leaving the remaining 49% processed in traditional data centres. By 2017, nearly two thirds or 63% of all workloads will be processed by cloud data centres and only 37% in traditional data centres. Essentially, from 2012 to 2017, cloud based workload processing will grow 3.7 fold.

What will drive this increase in cloud traffic over the next four years?

“People all over the world continue to demand the ability to access personal, business and entertainment content anywhere on any device”, said Doug Merritt, Senior Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing. Because of this, consumers are driving the growth of cloud traffic and generating more cloud traffic than businesses. In 2012, consumers generated 78% cloud traffic while businesses brought in 22%. By 2017, consumers are projected to generate 81% of cloud traffic with only 19% cloud traffic coming from businesses.

Cisco reveals that businesses continue to have privacy and security concerns and therefore still hesitate to make the transition to the cloud. Despite this, businesses all over the world are seeing the economies of scale that virtualisation and cloud computing brings to enterprises and service providers. In fact, it is projected that cloud traffic generated by businesses will grow at a healthy rate – 31% CAGR – just behind the rate at which consumer-based cloud traffic will grow.

Essentially, Cisco’s forecasts indicate that the era of cloud domination has begun. Even though it is currently driven and dominated by consumers, it is inevitable that the business world will soon follow suit. According to Thomas Barnett Jr., Director of Service Provider Thought Leadership, this is because “cloud data centres offer increased performance, higher capacity and ease of management, while virtualisation serves as a major catalyst in enabling hardware and software’ consolidation, greater automation and an integrated security approach”.

Ultimately, as more CIOs gain a deeper understanding of cloud solutions and the benefits it can bring to a business through its elastic and scalable provisioning, usage-based pricing and on-demand delivery, more businesses will forego traditional data centres in favour of cloud-based solutions.

To learn more about Cisco’s forecasts, watch the Global Cloud Index 2012 – 2017 Overview video.

Tags Digital Transformation, Cloud, Cisco Global Cloud Index, cloud bandwidth, cloud interconnects, cloud traffic, Data Centre, data centre traffic, Global Cloud Index, Cisco


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