Annual internet traffic is forecast to grow to 1.3 zettabytes (1 trillion Gbytes), predicts the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index report. For business organizations, the analysis is also predicting a significant growth in video, Wi-Fi, non-PC devices and the use of IPv6. These various types of growth will require more planning to address not just the bandwidth, but also the management, security and quality of service necessary to support this growth, says Arielle Sumits, principal analyst for Cisco's VNI Forecast.
More video: Video is expected to be the fastest-growing service in both consumer and business applications. In business, it will be driven by an increase in desktop videoconferencing and a growth in the use of higher-bandwidth telepresence systems. These systems will place new burdens on companies to manage latency in order to maintain a consistent quality of service, says Sumits.
By 2016, 1.2 million video minutes, the equivalent of 833 days, is expected to travel the Internet every second. Globally, desktop videoconferencing is projected to be the fastest-growing service, with 36.4 million users in 2011, increasing to 218.9 million users in 2016. In North America, desktop videoconferencing will be the fastest-growing service across all business services categories (fixed and mobile), with 20.8 million users in 2011 and 113 million users in 2016.
More devices: Network managers also need to think about a shift in the types of devices that will access the network. The growth in information appliances such as tablets, smartphones and physical appliances is expected to play a larger role in consumer and business connectivity. By 2016, the Cisco Visual Networking Index projects there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections, which is almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth, compared with 10.3 billion in 2011.
In 2011, PCs generated 94% of consumer Internet traffic; this is expected to fall to 81% by 2016 with an increasing number and variety of devices like tablets and smartphones.
There's also expected to be a significant growth in business location-based services, used for tracking and managing fleets and personnel. In North America these services are expected to grow from 10 million users in 2011 to 26 million users in 2016.
Expect a significant shift in the use of IPv6, with the depletion of the IPv4 address space, says Sumits. Network, content and software providers need to look at creating capabilities for an efficient management to seamlessly transition from IPv4 to IPv6.
In North America, there will be 1.2 billion IPv6-capable fixed and mobile devices in 2016, an increase from 141 million in 2011. Of these, 249 million will be business-fixed devices, up from 16 million in 2011.
Many of these devices will connect to the Internet and enterprise infrastructure via Wi-Fi, as well. Organizations will have to consider moving away from physical network management using MAC addresses, says Sumits. "They will have to deploy a more flexible approach to authentication that will allow other devices such as smartphones and tablets onto business networks. These involve new decisions on the management capabilities and the security of these devices."
The Visual Networking Index also predicted a significant growth in M2M applications. This could include relatively low-bandwidth applications like lighting controls and environmental sensors, or more demanding applications like video surveillance cameras. These kinds of applications have the potential to generate significant network traffic, as well.
The Short Message System (SMS), which in some ways is the lowest common denominator in mobile messaging, will continue to grow as a complement to other messaging technologies such as email and instant messaging. In North America, business mobile SMS was the most highly penetrated business mobile service in 2011, with 52 million users (82% of business mobile users), and is expected to grow to 61 million users (89% of business mobile users) by 2016.