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Cloud Traffic to Nearly Quadruple Representing 92 Percent of Total Data Center Traffic by 2020 – Report

Cloud Traffic

The rapid growth of cloud traffic is attributed to increased migration to cloud architectures due to their ability to scale quickly and efficiently support more workloads than traditional data centers. With greater data center virtualization, cloud operators are also able to achieve greater operational efficiencies while flexibly delivering a growing variety of services to businesses and consumers with optimal performance.

Cisco in its sixth annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (2015-2020) asserts that cloud traffic is expected to rise 3.7-fold, up from 3.9 zettabytes (ZB) per year in 2015 to 14.1 ZB per year by 2020.

To better understand data center growth, it has disseminated new analysis on application workloads was developed. The following business and consumer projections were revealed:

  • Business workloads dominate data center applications and are
    • Business workloads will grow by 2.4 fold from 2015 to 2020 but their overall share of data center workloads will decrease from 79 to 72
  • Consumer workloads, while smaller in number, are growing During the same time, consumer workloads will grow faster by 3.5 fold.
    • By 2020, consumer workloads will account for 28 percent (134.3 million) of total data center workloads, compared to 21 percent (38.6 million) in
  • IoT/analytics/database workloads are growing the most in terms of share of business workloads with collaboration and compute workloads largely maintaining their
    • By 2020, database/analytics/Internet of Things (IoT) workloads will account for 22 percent of total business workloads, compared to 20 percent in
  • Video and social networking will lead the increase in consumer workloads, each respectively grows their percentage
    • By 2020: video streaming workloads will account for 34 percent of total consumer workloads, compared to 29 percent in 2015; social networking workloads will account for 24 percent of total consumer workloads, compared to 20 percent in 2015; search workloads will account for 15 percent of total consumer workloads, compared to 17 percent in

For the first time, Cisco also quantified and analyzed the impact of hyperscale data centers. These data centers will grow from 259 in 2015 to 485 by 2020. Hyperscale data center traffic is projected to quintuple over the next five years. These infrastructures will account for 47 percent of total data center installed servers and support 53 percent of all data center traffic by 2020.

A key infrastructure trend is transforming hyperscale (and other) data centers. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are helping to flatten data center architectures and streamline traffic flows. Over the next five years, nearly 60 percent of global hyperscale data centers are expected to deploy SDN/NFV solutions. By 2020, 44 percent of traffic within data centers will be supported by SDN/NFV platforms (up from 23 percent in 2015) as operators strive for greater efficiencies.

“In the six years of this study, cloud computing has advanced from an emerging technology to an essential scalable and flexible part of architecture for service providers of all types around the globe,” said Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco. “Powered by video, IoT, SDN/NFV and more, we forecast this significant cloud migration and the increased amount of network traffic generated as a result to continue at a rapid rate as operators streamline infrastructures to help them more profitably deliver IP-based services businesses and consumers alike.”

Additional Global Cloud Index Forecasted Highlights and Projections: 

  1. With cloud comes networking
    • By 2020, cloud data center traffic will reach 1 ZB per year, up from 3.9 ZB per year in 2015. A zettabyte is one trillion gigabytes.
    • By 2020, traditional data center traffic will reach 3 ZB per year, up from 827 exabytes (EB) per year in 2015.
  1. Cloud dominates growth and outpaces traditional data center growth by
  • By 2020, 92 percent of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers; 8 percent will be processed by traditional data
  • Workload density (workloads per physical server) for cloud data centers was 3 in 2015 and will grow to 11.9 by 2020. Comparatively, for traditional data centers, workload density was 2.2 in 2015 and will grow modestly to 3.5 by 2020.
  1. Public cloud is growing faster than private cloud
    • By 2020, 68 percent (298 million) of the cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers, up from 49 percent (66.3 million) in 2015 (35 percent CAGR 2015-2020).
    • By 2020, 32 percent (142 million) of the cloud workloads will be in private cloud data centers, down from 51 percent (69.7 million) in 2015 (15 percent CAGR 2015-2020).
  1. More consumers will turn to the cloud for
    • By 2020, 59 percent (2.3 billion users) of the consumer Internet population will use personal cloud storage up from 47 percent (1.3 billion users) in
    • By 2020, consumer cloud storage traffic per user will be 7 GB per month, compared to 513 MB per month in 2015.
  1. Data center storage capacity is increasing to accommodate the migration of consumer data from devices to the
  • By 2020, data center storage installed capacity will grow to 8 ZB up from 382 EB in 2015, nearly a 5-fold growth.
  • By 2020, the total global installed data storage capacity in cloud data centers will account for 88 percent share of total DC storage capacity up from 9 percent in 2015.
  1. Big data will drive overall growth in stored
  • Globally, the data stored in data centers will quintuple by 2020 to reach 915 EB by 2020, up 5.3-fold (a CAGR of 40 percent) from 171 EB in
  • Big data will reach 247 EB by 2020, up almost 10-fold from 25 EB in Big data alone will represent 27 percent of data stored in data centers by 2020, up from 15 percent in 2015.
  1. IoT will be a massive data
    • Globally, data generated (but not necessarily stored) by IoT will reach 600 ZB per year by 2020, 275 times higher than projected traffic going from data centers to end users/devices (2.2 ZB); 39 times higher than total projected data center traffic (15.3 ZB).
  1. There is significant opportunity for even more growth as more device data goes
  • The amount of data stored on devices (5.3 ZB) will be 5 times higher than data stored in data centers by
  1. Improvements in global networks will increase propensity to use cloud Global Cloud Readiness Advancements (Fixed and Mobile Networks):
    • In 2016, 132 countries met the single advanced application criteria for fixed networks; up from 119 countries in
    • In 2016, 89 countries met the single advanced application criteria for mobile networks; up from 81 countries in


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