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Cisco Global Cloud Index

November 2011 by Cisco

In the inaugural Cisco® Global Cloud Index (2010 – 2015) issued, Cisco estimates global data center traffic to grow four-fold and reach a total of 4.8 zettabytes annually by 2015. One zettabyte is equal to sextillion bytes or a trillion gigabytes―4.8 zettabytes is equivalent to:

66.7 trillion hours of streaming music.

15.5 trillion hours of business web conferencing with a webcam.

4.8 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming.

The fastest growing component of data center traffic is cloud, which will grow 12-fold, a 66 percent combined annual growth rate (CAGR) from 130 exabytes of annual traffic in 2010 to 1.6 zettabytes annually by 2015.

The vast majority of the data center traffic is not caused by end users but by the data centers themselves in activities that are largely transparent to end users. By 2015, 76 percent of data center traffic will be within the data center itself as workloads migrate across various virtual machines and an additional seven percent is generated between data centers through such activities as data replication and updates. They represent the “behind the scenes” impact of networking activity to data center and the cloud.


The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2010 – 2015) was developed to estimate global Internet Protocol data center and cloud-based traffic growth and trends. As the network and data center are becoming intrinsically linked, the effort complements existing network traffic studies to provide new insights and visibility into the emerging trends affecting data center and cloud architectures.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index is generated from modeling and analysis of various primary and secondary sources, including more than 30 terabytes of data generated each month over the past year from a variety of data centers around the globe, measurements of more than 45 million network tests, and third-party market forecasts.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index also includes a “workload transition” forecast on the workload shift from traditional data centers to the cloud, as well as a “Cloud Readiness” analysis of major geographic regions regarding their networks’ abilities to support various types of business and consumer cloud-computing services.

§ The Cisco Global Cloud Index Forecast and Methodology, 2010 – 2015, white paper provides the detailed findings of the study and a description of the methodology.

§ The Cisco Global Cloud Index Forecast provides a downloadable image available for use in blogs and social media.

Additional Cisco Global Cloud Index Detail and Highlights

Global data center traffic growth: four-fold increase by 2015

· Data center traffic is forecast to more than quadruple from 1.1 zettabytes in 2010 to 4.8 zettabytes annually in 2015, representing a 33 percent combined annual growth rate.

Data center traffic sources: most generated from within the data center itself

· Of the data center traffic in 2015, 76 percent is within the data center itself, through such activities as storage and authentication across virtual machines.

· Seven percent is generated between data centers through activities such as back up and replication.

· 17 percent is due to data-center-to-user activity.

Peak end-user activity more than 2.5 times average

Due predominately to the rise in video-based consumer services, data center to user traffic has some significant peaks in activity. Much like prime time viewing hours, consumers are expected to generate up to 2.5 times the average amount of data center traffic per hour during peak periods, requiring the need to plan for additional capacity from data centers and the cloud just as it does the network.

Cloud will account for one-third of total data center traffic

Globally, cloud traffic will grow from just 11 percent (9.7 exabytes per month and 116 exabytes annually) of total data center traffic in 2010 to more than a third of total data center traffic (34 percent specifically – 36 exabytes per month and 1.6 zettabytes annually) by 2015.

Greater virtualization and improved economies of scale will be a key driver of the cloud transition.

Cloud traffic growing twice as fast as data center traffic

The transition to cloud services is driving global cloud traffic at a growth rate that is two times greater than global data center traffic. Global data center traffic will grow four-fold (a 33 percent CAGR) from 2010 to 2015, while global cloud traffic will grow 12-fold (a 66 percent CAGR) over the same period.

Cloud data centers offer increased performance, higher capacity and ease of management compared to traditional data centers. Virtualization serves as a major catalyst in enabling hardware and software consolidation, greater automation and an integrated security approach.

Workload transition

In 2010, 21 percent of workloads were processed in the cloud, with 79 percent being handled in a traditional data center.

2014 is the first year where the balance of workloads shifts towards cloud for the first time – 51 percent of total workloads will be in cloud environment versus 49 percent in the traditional IT space.

Overall data center workload growth from 2010 – 2015 is growing 2.7 fold; however, cloud workload growth from 2010 – 2015 is growing more than seven-fold over the forecast period.

Global cloud readiness

· To assess overall readiness, various attributes were analyzed: broadband ubiquity, average upload and download speeds, and average latency were assessed across each geographic region.

· Overall, all regions included in the study – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and North America – are currently ready for basic cloud-computing applications, such as social networking and Web conferencing.

· For intermediate cloud-computing applications such as high-definition video streaming and video chat, Asia Pacific, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and North America were considered to have average network capabilities strong enough to support these services.

· No region was assessed to be able to support advanced cloud applications such as high-definition video conferencing and advanced gaming in aggregate, however, certain country outliers within each reach such as South Korea, Japan and Denmark are currently able to do so.

Editor’s Note

Cisco welcomes press, analysts, bloggers, service providers, regulators and other interested parties to use and reference our research with proper attribution, such as “source: Cisco Global Cloud Index.”

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