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Cloud Traffic to Grow Sixfold by 2016: Cisco Global Cloud Index

Global data center traffic is expected to grow four times and reach a total of 6.6 zettabytes annually by 2016, according to networking giant Cisco in its second annual Global Cloud Index (2011-2016). The company also predicts global cloud traffic, the fastest-growing component of data center traffic, to grow sixfold – a 44 percent combined annual growth rate (CAGR) – from 683 exabytes of annual traffic in 2011 to 4.3 zettabytes by 2016.

To give you an idea how big 6.6 zettabytes is:

  • 92 trillion hours of streaming music – Equivalent to about 1.5 years of continuous music streaming for the world’s population in 2016.
  • 16 trillion hours of business Web conferencing – Equivalent to about 12 hours of daily Web conferencing for the world’s workforce in 2016.
  • 7 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming – Equivalent to about 2.5 hours of daily streamed HD video for the world’s population in 2016.
  • A heckuva lotta porn.

Of course, most data center traffic is not actually created by end users, but by data centers and cloud-computing workloads used in activities totally transparent to actual consumers. Only around 1 7-percent is really fueled by end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, emailing and video streaming.

The forecast also includes a supplement on Cloud Readiness Regional Details, which examines the fixed and mobile network abilities of each global region (from nearly 150 countries) to support business and consumer cloud-computing applications and services.  The index predicts that through 2016, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate, while the Asia Pacific region will process the most cloud workloads, followed by North America.

Some interesting statistics:

  • In 2011, North America generated the most cloud traffic (261 exabytes annually); followed by Asia Pacific; (216 exabytes annually); and Western Europe (156 exabytes annually).
  • By 2016, Asia Pacific will generate the most cloud traffic (1.5 zettabytes annually); followed by North America (1.1 zettabytes annually); and Western Europe (963 exabytes annually).
  • From 2011 to 2016, Cisco foresees the Middle East and Africa as having the highest cloud traffic growth rate (79 percent CAGR); followed by Latin America (66 percent CAGR); and Central and Eastern Europe (55 percent CAGR).

“This year’s forecast confirms that strong growth in data center usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by our growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device,” says Doug Merritt, senior vice president, Corporate Marketing, Cisco. When you couple this growth with projected increases in connected devices and objects, the next-generation Internet will be an essential component to enabling much greater data center virtualization and a new world of interconnected clouds.”

You may also be interested in this video on the “Top Trends Behind the Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011 – 2016)”.


Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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