Cloud Heading Toward Data Center Domination

Cisco's annual Global Cloud Index projects familiar trends in cloud growth, but also anticipates a shift in data center architecture.

Marcia Savage

October 28, 2015

3 Min Read
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In its fifth annual report on global data center and cloud-based traffic growth, Cisco's projections continued on their same trajectory: Cloud is on a path to ruling the data center.

Annual global cloud traffic will quadruple, reaching 8.6 zettabytes by the end of 2019, and will account for 83% of total data center traffic, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index. The report projects annual global data center traffic to reach 10.4 ZB by 2019, up from 3.4 ZB in 2014.

In four years, North America will have both the highest cloud traffic volume (3.6 ZB) and highest data center traffic volume (4.5 ZB).

Cisco also projects that overall data center workloads will more than double between 2014 and 2019, but that cloud workloads will more than triple over the same period, accounting for 86% of all data center workloads.

And according to Cisco's report, public cloud is growing at a faster clip than private cloud. By 2019, 56% of cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers, up from 30% in 2014; meanwhile, 44% will be in private cloud data centers, down from 70% last year.

The projections reflect the fact that cloud is becoming mainstream, Thomas Barnett, Jr., director of service provider thought leadership at Cisco, told me in an interview. "It's a question of how and when you'll implement it, not if," he said.

Cloud security and data integrity issues are being addressed to a greater degree, which is helping enterprises overcome their hesitancy in adopting the cloud, Barnett said.

Data center architecture, IoT, and IPv6 trends

While many of the top findings in this year's Cisco Global Cloud Index are none too surprising, the report included other interesting data points.

For example, it projects that more data center network architectures will transition from the traditional three-tier data center network architecture to a flatter leaf-and-spine design. Combined with the rise of SDN and NFV, the result will be that less traffic will be handled at the higher core layer, while more traffic will be processed closer to the edge, Cisco said.

According to the report, traffic volumes reaching the core tier could fall under the current 10.4 ZB per year by 2019, while the lower tiers might handle more than 40 ZB.

Other predictions in Cisco's report include:

  • The data created by the Internet of Everything (as Cisco calls the Internet of Things) will reach 507.5 ZB per year by 2019, up from 134.5 ZB per year in 2014. That's 49 times more than the projected amount of data center traffic in four years.

  • 32% of Internet users worldwide will be IPv6-capable by 2019. The report also noted a 4% increase in the number of websites that are IPv6-capable since last October.

  • 55% of Internet users will use personal cloud storage by 2019, up from 42 percent last year. Also, 51% of stored data will be on non-PC devices like smartphones and tablets; today, 73% of data is stored on PCs.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index is based on network data collected from a variety of enterprise and Internet data centers and input from a number of market research firms.

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About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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