The release of the sixth annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (GCI) reveals some interesting new findings on global data center and cloud trends. For those of us who are not data center operators, these infrastructures are largely invisible or nebulous (pardon the pun). Maybe you’ve walked by the server room or data center area at your company. Perhaps you’ve peeked in to see racks of equipment and blinking lights or you just hear the fans keeping the equipment cool as you stroll by the closed doors (that generally require special access to open). For many, data centers are a secret, clandestine space. But they support billions of network users and machine-to-machine connections around the world. Whether they are delivering services, transporting and storing information, or providing access and authorization to approved content and applications, data centers have become dynamic hubs to an information-rich digital world. Below are three of the seven key trends highlighted in our updated GCI Report that may help remove some of the mystery that surrounds the largely proprietary world of data centers and cloud computing.

1. How many data centers are there globally?

Within the GCI forecast, there are several data center types defined by their size and function. From small server closets to large hyperscale deployments. For the first time in our analysis (through collaboration with Synergy Research), we’ve been able to quantify and forecast the number of hyperscale data centers worldwide. Today, there are 24 hyperscale cloud operators that meet at least one of the one the following infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), or other cloud service revenue requirements:

  • >$1B in IaaS/PaaS (e.g., Amazon/AWS, Rackspace, NTT, IBM)
  • >$2B in SaaS (e.g., Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Oracle)
  • >$4B in Internet/search/social networking (e.g., Facebook, Apple, Tencent, Yahoo)
  • >$8B in e-commerce/payment processing (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Alibaba)

Hyperscale data centers will grow from 259 at the end of 2015 to 485 by 2020. They will also house 47 percent of all installed data center servers by 2020.


Hyperscale data centers will have a significant impact on global data center landscape, representing a significant consolidation of processing power, storage capacity, and data center traffic support.


2. What’s growing faster – public or private clouds?

As part of our standard forecast, analysts compared public and private cloud growth based on workloads. A server workload is defined as a virtual or physical set of computer resources, including storage, assigned to run a specific application or provide computing services for one or many users. Public cloud, as indicated by the workloads growth, is growing faster than private cloud. As the business sensitivity to costs associated with dedicated IT resources grows along with demand for agility, we expect to see a greater adoption of public cloud services by businesses (especially with strengthened cloud security measures). Although many mission-critical workloads might remain in traditional data centers or private cloud, public cloud trust and adoption is increasing. Some enterprises might adopt a hybrid approach to cloud, whereby some of the cloud computing resources are managed in-house by an enterprise and some are provided by an external provider


3. How many consumers are using cloud computing?

We’ve previously reported on the growth of the global consumer Internet population and multi-device ownership. Complementing those trends in the updated GCI report, we are forecasting significant growth in the use of consumer cloud storage (also called personal content lockers). In personal content lockers, users can store and share music, photos, and videos through an easy-to-use interface at relatively low or no cost. Furthermore, the proliferation of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices allows users to access their personal content lockers from a variety of end points. We estimate that by 2020, 59 percent (2.3 billion) of the consumer Internet population will use personal cloud storage, up from 47 percent (1.3 billion users) in 2015. From a traffic perspective, this growth translates to per-user traffic of 1.7 gigabytes per month by 2020, up from 513 megabytes per month in 2015.


Want more insights into data center, cloud, virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT) trends? Visit the Global Cloud Index page and you may also register for Global Cloud Index forecast update presentation on November 15, 2016 (Americas and EMEAR) or November 29, 2016 (APJ).

Join our conversation on Twitter through #CiscoGCI.










Thomas Barnett, Jr.

Director, SP Thought Leadership

Worldwide Service Provider Marketing Group