Cloud traffic will grow at an annual rate of 33% over the next 5 years, Cisco predicts

The new version of the Cisco Cloud Index computes the rapid expansion of today’s stampede to the cloud. “We have never seen anything like this in terms of speed of customer adoption,” Oracle Co-CEO Mark Hurd said recently, describing how his corporate customers have enthusiastically embraced the cloud.

One of them, General Electric, has moved, in just the last 18 months, 10% more of its computing load into the cloud, and expects to run 70% of its applications in the cloud by 2020. In their latest quarterly financial reports, Amazon reported that its cloud business has surged 79% year-over-year and Microsoft announced that its cloud business has “more than doubled.”

Here are the highlights of Cisco’s ongoing study of the growth of global data center and cloud-based data traffic.

Almost all of the work of IT will be done in cloud data centers

Based on its hands-on knowledge of the movement of data over global computer networks, Cisco predicts that cloud traffic will grow at an annual rate of 33% over the next 5 years, quadrupling from 2.1 zettabytes (2.1 trillion gigabytes) in 2014 to 8.6 zettabytes by the end of 2019. 86% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers in 2019  and only 14% will be processed by traditional data centers.

Cisco Figure 3 DC and Cloud Growth

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Cloud traffic is expected to account for 83% of total data center traffic by 2019. Cloud traffic is a subset of data center traffic and is generated by cloud services accessible through the Internet from scalable, virtualized cloud data centers. Total data center traffic, which Cisco projects will reach 10.4 zettabytes by the end of 2019, is comprised of all traffic traversing within and between data centers as well as to end users.

10.4 trillion gigabytes is the equivalent of 144 trillion hours of streaming music or 6.8 trillion of high-definition (HD) movies viewed online. Ones and zeros are eating the world and the companies providing consumers with digital entertainment and other services have been at the forefront of the migration to the cloud.  Indeed, The Wall Street Journal has reported recently that Netflix has shut down the last of its data centers, moving the last piece of its IT infrastructure to the public cloud.

The public cloud will grow faster than the private cloud

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

While overall cloud workloads will grow at a CAGR of 27% from 2014 to 2019, the public cloud workloads are going to grow at 44% CAGR over that period, and private cloud (where cloud services are  delivered to corporate users by their IT department) workloads will grow at a slower pace of 16%. By 2019, there will be more workloads (56%) in the public cloud than in private clouds (44%).

New sources of data, especially the Internet of Things, will keep the clouds very busy

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

The total volume of stored data on client devices and in data centers will more than double to reach 3.5 zettabytes by 2019. Most stored data resides in client devices today and will continue to do so over the next 5 years, but more data will move to the data center over time, representing 18% of all data in 2019, up from 12% in 2014.

In addition to larger volumes of stored data, the stored data will be coming from a wider range of devices by 2019. Currently, 73% of data stored on client devices resides on PCs. By 2019, stored data on PCs will go down to 49%, with a greater portion of data on smartphones, tablets, and machine-to-machine (M2M) modules. Stored data associated with M2M will grow at a faster rate than any other device category at an 89% CAGR.

A broad range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications are generating large volumes of data that could reach, Cisco estimates, 507.5 zettabytes annually by 2019. That’s 49 times greater than the projected data center traffic for 2019 (10.4 zettabytes). Today, only a small portion of this content is stored in data centers, but that could change as big data analytics tools are applied to greater volumes of the data collected and transmitted by IoT applications.

The figure below maps several M2M applications for their frequency of network communications, average traffic per connection, and data analytic needs. Applications such as smart metering can benefit from real-time analytics of aggregated data that can optimize the usage of resources such as electricity, gas, and water. On the other hand, applications such as emergency services and environment and public safety can be much enhanced through distributed real-time analytics that can help make real-time decisions that affect entire communities. Although some other applications such as manufacturing and processing can have potential efficiencies from real-time analytics, their need is not very imminent.

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

More consumers will keep their data in the cloud

Cisco estimates that by 2019, 55% (2 billion) of the Internet-connected consumer population will use personal cloud storage, up from 42% (1.1 billion users) in 2014.

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Global consumer cloud storage traffic will grow from 14 exabytes (14 billion gigabytes) annually in 2014 to 39 exabytes by 2019 at a 23% CAGR. This growth translates to per-user traffic of 1.6 gigabytes per month by 2019, compared to 992 megabytes per month in 2014.

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014–2019

Ones and zeros are eating the world and today we got fresh insights into how much, how fast, and how their movement changes the way IT services are delivered to businesses and consumers.  For more data and the study’s methodology, go to the Cisco Global Cloud Index webpage.

Originally published on

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