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Cloud outlook crystal clear as Cisco cuts deep into connectivity future

“Enterprise and government are moving from test cloud environments to trusting clouds with mission-critical workloads.”
Chuck Robbins - CEO, Cisco

Chuck Robbins - CEO, Cisco

Global cloud traffic will more than quadruple by the end of 2019, from 2.1 to 8.6 zettabytes (ZB), outpacing the growth of total global data centre traffic, which is forecast to triple during the same time frame (from 3.4 to 10.4 ZB).

Findings from the fifth annual Cisco Global Cloud Index claim “several factors” are driving cloud traffic’s accelerating growth and the transition to cloud services.

According to the tech giant, they include the personal cloud demands of an increasing number of mobile devices; the rapid growth in popularity of public cloud services for business, and the increased degree of virtualisation in private clouds which is increasing the density of those workloads.

In addition, the growth of machine-to-machine (M2M) connections also has the potential to drive more cloud traffic in the future.

“The Global Cloud Index highlights the fact that cloud is moving well beyond a regional trend to becoming a mainstream solution globally, with cloud traffic expected to grow more than 30 percent in every worldwide region over the next five years,” says Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing, Cisco.

“Enterprise and government organisations are moving from test cloud environments to trusting clouds with their mission-critical workloads.

“At the same time, consumers continue to expect on-demand, anytime access to their content and services nearly everywhere.

“This creates a tremendous opportunity for cloud operators, which will play an increasingly relevant role in the communications industry ecosystem.”

Internet of Everything

In addition to the rapid growth of cloud traffic, Cisco predicts that the Internet of Everything (IoE) - otherwise known as the Internet of Things - could have a “significant impact” on data centre and cloud traffic growth.

A broad range of IoE applications are generating large volumes of data that could reach 507.5 ZB per year (42.3 ZB per month) by 2019.

As Webster puts it, that’s 49 times greater than the projected data centre traffic for 2019 (10.4 ZB).

Today, only a small portion of this content is stored in data centres, but that could change as the application demand and uses of big data analytics evolves (i.e., analysing collected data to make tactical and strategic decisions).

At present, findings claim that 73 percent of data stored on client devices resides on PCs.

But by 2019, Webster says the majority of stored data (51 percent) will move to non-PC devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, M2M modules, et al.).

With the volume of stored data increasing, Cisco predicts a greater demand and use for consumer cloud storage and by 2019, 55 percent of the residential Internet population will use personal cloud storage (up from 42 percent in 2014).

As an example, the forecast estimates that by 2017, global smartphone traffic (201 EB per year) will exceed the amount of data stored (179 EB per year) on those devices - necessitating the need for greater storage capabilities via the cloud.

Data centre traffic

As the report explains, cloud traffic, a subset of data centre traffic, is generated by cloud services accessible through the Internet from scalable, virtualised cloud data centres, whereas total data centre traffic is comprised of all traffic traversing within and between data centres as well as to end users.

Consequently, annual global data centre IP traffic is projected to reach 10.4 ZB by the end of 2019, up from 3.4 ZB per year in 2014.

Meanwhile, annual global cloud traffic is projected to quadruple, reaching 8.6 ZB (719 EB per month) by the end of 2019, up from 2.1 ZB per year (176 EB per month) in 2014, and is expected to account for more than four-fifths (83 percent) of total data centre traffic by 2019.

New technologies such as Software-Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualisation are expected to streamline data centre traffic flows such that the traffic volumes reaching the highest tier (core) of the data centre may fall below 10.4 ZB per year and lower data centre tiers could carry over 40 ZB of traffic per year.

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Regionally speaking, North America will have the highest cloud traffic volume (3.6 ZB) by 2019, followed by Asia Pacific (2.3 ZB) and Western Europe (1.5 ZB).

In addition, North America will also have the highest data centre traffic volume (4.5 ZB) by 2019, again followed by Asia Pacific (2.7 ZB) and Western Europe (1.8 ZB).

To help put things in perspective, 10.4 ZB is equivalent to 144 trillion hours of streaming music which is subsequently equivalent to about 26 months of continuous music streaming for the world’s population of around 7.6 billion people in 2019.

Consumer cloud storage

By 2019, Webster claims 55 percent (more than two billion users) of the consumer Internet population will use personal cloud storage up from 42 percent (1.1 billion users) in 2014.

Globally, consumer cloud storage traffic per user will be 1.6 gigabytes per month by 2019, compared to 992 megabytes per month in 2014.

In 2014, 73 percent of data stored on client devices resided on PCs and by 2019, the majority of stored data (51 percent) will move to non-PC devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, M2M modules, et al.).

As the volume of stored data increases, Cisco predicts a greater demand for consumer cloud storage.

For example, the forecast estimates that by 2017, global smartphone traffic (201 EB per year) will exceed the amount of data stored (179 EB per year) on those devices - necessitating the need for greater storage capabilities via the cloud.

Data centre virtualisation

Overall data centre workloads will more than double from 2014 to 2019, however, cloud workloads will more than triple over the same period.

The workload density (that is, workloads per physical server) for cloud data centres was 5.1 in 2014 and will grow to 8.4 by 2019.

Comparatively, for traditional data centres, workload density was 2.0 in 2014 and will grow to 3.2 by 2019.

Globally, the data created by IoE connections will reach 507.5 zettabytes per year (42.3 zettabytes per month) by 2019, up from 134.5 zettabytes per year (11.2 ZB per month) in 2014 with a smart city of one million set to generate 180 million gigabytes of data per day by 2019.

Private vs. Public cloud

Public cloud, in which services are rendered over a network that is open for public use, is growing faster than private cloud, which includes cloud infrastructure operated for a single organisation, in terms of workloads.

However, throughout the five-year forecast, private cloud will continue to outpace public cloud in its degree of virtualisation.

With businesses increasingly assessing the cost associated with IT dedicated resources and demanding for more agility, public cloud adoption will rise.

Going forward, the Cisco Cloud Index projects that public cloud workloads are going to grow at a 44-percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2014 to 2019 while private cloud workloads will grow at a slower pace (16-percent CAGR) from 2014 to 2019.

By 2019, the findings claim that 56 percent of the cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centres, up from 30 percent in 2014.

Furthermore, by 2019, 44 percent of the cloud workloads will be in private cloud data centres, down from 70 percent in 2014.

Cloud workloads

According to Cisco, SaaS will be the most popular and adopted service model for public and private cloud workloads, respectively, by 2019.

By 2019, 59 percent of the total cloud workloads will be Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) workloads, up from 45 percent in 2014.

In addition, by 2019, 30 percent of the total cloud workloads will be Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) workloads, down from 42 percent in 2014.

And finally, in three years time, 11 percent of the total cloud workloads will be Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) workloads, down from 13 percent in 2014.

To assess cloud readiness, Cisco analyses the average and median upload/download speeds and latencies of fixed and mobile networks for more than 150 countries.

This year, 81 countries met the single advanced application readiness criteria for mobile networks; a significant increase from last year’s 21 countries while119 countries, met the single advanced application criteria for fixed networks; up from 109 countries last year.