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Updated Global Cloud Index: Revised Forecast Shows Clear Signs of Continued Data Center Virtualization

Today, Cisco released its first update to the Cisco Global Cloud Index (GCI), covering the 2011 to 2016 forecast period. This annual report is our ongoing effort to predict the growth of global and regional data center and cloud-based IP traffic as well as analysis of the trends associated with data center virtualization and cloud computing. Here are just a few of the key projections in this year’s report:

Global data center traffic

  • Global data center IP traffic will increase nearly four-fold over the next 5 years (reaching 6.6 zettabytes by the end of 2016). Overall, data center IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Data center virtualization and cloud computing transition

  • By 2016, nearly two-thirds of all data center workloads will be processed in the cloud (as opposed to less virtualized traditional IT servers). In 2011, 30 percent of workloads were processed in the cloud, with 70 percent being handled in a traditional data center.

Global cloud traffic

  • Global cloud IP traffic will increase six-fold over the next 5 years (reaching 4.3 zettabytes by the end of 2016). Overall, cloud IP traffic will grow at a 44% CAGR from 2011 -- 2016.
  • Global cloud IP traffic will account for nearly two-thirds of total data center traffic by 2016.

And this year, we’ve added more forecast granularity—projecting cloud traffic (and other metrics) for all six global regions:

Cloud Traffic Growth by Region

  • 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 (1 zettabyte annually).
  • From 2011–2016, the Middle East and Africa is expected to have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (79 percent CAGR); followed by Latin America (66 percent CAGR); and Central and Eastern Europe (55 percent CAGR).

One of the key takeaways from the study is that enhanced data center virtualization is a key networking benefit that is driving many organizations to cloud computing. In the past, one server carried one workload. However, with increasing server computing capacity and virtualization, multiple workloads per physical server are common in cloud architectures. The results include fewer physical servers to support higher processing demands, more efficient data center operations, and more ubiquitous access to network services and content for consumers and business users.

Here’s a brief animated video that will help give you a bit more insight on the top trends from the latest Cisco GCI research:

We encourage you to visit our Global Cloud Index site to review the updated study as well as the new tools and resources that we’ve developed. We look forward to your feedback and feel free to share your  “cloud experiences” with us as well.

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