Rising Cloud Traffic Transforms Networks

Global cloud traffic to nearly quadruple by 2020

The long migration to the cloud is picking up speed, based on a recent Gartner research report, $111 billion of IT spending has shifted to the cloud and will increase to $216 billion by 2020 as many IT organizations are adopting “Cloud-first strategies as a foundation for staying relevant in a fast-paced world, according to Ed Anderson, research vice president at Gartner. Today’s release of the sixth annual Cisco® Global Cloud Index (2015-2020) delivers new data on global network traffic, with projections for cloud traffic to nearly quadruple within five years from 3.9 zettabytes (ZB) per year in 2015 to 14.1 ZB per year by 2020. Cloud data center traffic in North America is expected to grow from 2.2 ZB to 7.1 ZB by 2020.

Cloud traffic will represent 92% of all data center traffic, dramatically outpacing traditional data center traffic which is expected to be 8 % by 2020. Workload density (workloads per physical server) for cloud data centers is expected to rise to 11.9 with traditional data center workload density increasing slightly from 2.2 in 2015 to 3.5 in 2020. The rapid growth growth in cloud traffic is attributed to the increasing migration to cloud architectures with their ability to quickly scale and efficiently support more workloads than traditional data centers, according to Cisco.This data further illustrates how network and data centers are becoming “intrinsically linked” in delivering cloud services.

What’s driving cloud traffic growth?

The report also provides additional insights on how everything from IoT, video, big data and network technology advancements such as software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are fueling this explosive growth.

Below are business and consumer projections by 2020 from the Cisco Global Cloud Index:

  • Business/Enterprise workloads will account for 72% of total data center workloads (a decrease from 79% in 2015) and are comprised of the following listed below.

– Compute workloads will account for 29% and collaboration at 21%

– IoT/analytics/database workloads are growing fastest, accounting for 22% 

  • Consumer workloads will account for 28% of total data center workloads (an increase from 21% in 2015)

– video streaming will account for 34% of total consumer workloads

– social networking will account for 24% with search workloads accounting for 15% 

How hyperscale data centers and SDN/NFV deployments factor into growth

This year, for the first time, the Cisco Global Index also quantified the growth of the large-scale public cloud data centers called hyperscale data centers. Hyperscale data centers are designed to provide a single massively scalable compute architecture that’s typically comprised of small, individual servers (nodes) that provide compute, storage and networking.The report forecasts hyperscale data centers growing from 259 in 2015 to 485 by 2020 and projects hyperscale data center traffic to quintuple over the next five years. According to Cisco, these data centers will account fro 47% of total data center installed servers and support 53% of all data center traffic by 2020.

SDN/NFV are cited as a key infrastructure trend that’s transforming hyperscale as well as other data centers because it’s contributing to flattening data center architectures and streamlining traffic flows. As data center operators continue to increase efficiencies, 44% of traffic within data centers will be supported by SDN/NFV platforms by 2020 (up 23% from 2015).

Implications for networks

The report analyzed of how regions across the globe compare in cloud readiness, underscoring the importance of network speed and latency needed to support these workloads. Speeds identified for North America included an average fixed download speed of 32.9 Mbps and mobile upload speed of 9.9 Mbps. As network traffic to the cloud increases dramatically in the next few years, data centers are becoming not only the hub for both business/enterprise and consumer data but also the delivery platform for cloud services. Networks are the crucial connection providing the access to these data centers/cloud platforms.

2020 is closer than you think. To make sure your network is ready for increasing cloud traffic, here are a few questions to think about:

  • What’s in your five year plan regarding cloud workloads?
  • Does your network have the appropriate bandwidth to support cloud workloads?
  • Have you built in flexibility to your network to ensure you can quickly scale to meet cloud traffic demands?
  • What’s your redundancy plan for your cloud traffic? 
  • Do you have the secure, reliable infrastructure with the speed and latency needed to transport cloud workloads?

Stay ahead of the migration and start planning for your future cloud traffic.