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Cisco Reports Mind-Boggling Data Figures in Latest Global Cloud Index

Cloud Data Center

Collaboration, analytics, enterprise-resource planning and other digital enterprise apps are all growing in popularity among business users — and that’s contributing to the “growing dominance” of cloud services over the internet.

That’s a key finding in Cisco’s annual Global Cloud Index, unveiled Monday. The 7th annual study takes a close look at cloud computing and data virtualization, which are instrumental in the digital transformation.

Each year this report delivers a staggering number, and this time is no exception. Cloud has become so prevalent that, by 2021, cloud traffic will represent 95 percent of total data-center traffic. That’s up from 88 percent in 2016. The reason is simple: the rapid adoption of cloud services by both businesses and consumers.

The Index predicts that cloud data-center traffic worldwide will reach 19.5 zettabytes (ZB) just three years from now, up from 6 ZB in 2016. To put it in more familiar terms, one zettabyte is equal to 1 trillion gigabytes. The number represents a 27 percent annual increase from 2016-2021.

“Data-center application growth is clearly exploding in this new multicloud world. This projected growth will require new innovations especially in the areas of public, private and hybrid clouds,” said Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s Cloud Platform and Solutions Group.

Surf through the gallery below for more of Cisco’s findings. All slides come from the Cisco Global Cloud Index.

Follow Channel Partners and Channel Futures executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Cisco Global Cloud Traffic Growth
Cloud Traffic

We're not sure which is more impressive — the sheer number of zettabytes of cloud traffic dominating the world's data centers, or the incredible growth that is predicted over the next few years.
Cisco Global Data Center Traffic Growth
Hyperscale Data Centers

This slide shows just how quickly data-center traffic is growing overall.

The networking giant also reports on the increasing popularity of large-scale, public cloud data centers known as hyperscale data centers. Cisco expects that in just three years, there will be 628 of these facilities around the world, nearly double the number from 2016 (338). Look for hyperscale data centers in 2021 to support 53 percent of all data-center servers (up from 27 percent in 2016); 69 percent of all data-center processing power (41 percent in 2016); 66 percent of all data stored in data centers (51 percent in 2016); and 55 percent of all data-center traffic (39 percent in 2016).
Data Center Traffic by Application (Cisco)
Big Data

You always hear about video as a bandwidth hog, but it's not the factor within data centers when compared to several other categories; most notably, big data, which is the fastest-growing data center application.

Cisco says big data will account for one-fifth of traffic within data centers by 2021, up from just 9 percent in 2016. Other projections as they look into their crystal balls three years into the future: Video streaming will only jump from 9 percent of traffic to 10 percent over the same time period; search will account for less traffic (28 percent) than two years ago (20 percent); and social-networking traffic will rise modestly from 20 percent (2016) to 22 percent (2021).
Global Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud (Cisco)
Public vs. Private Cloud

We all know that Amazon, Microsoft and Google are behemoths in the public-cloud arena, and Cisco's study shows they have no reason to expect business to stall over the next three years.

In fact, Cisco predicts public cloud to support 73 percent of installed workloads and compute instances in 2021; in 2016, it was just 58 percent. Private cloud, in turn, will decline from 42 percent to 27 percent.

Cisco Global Cloud Workloads
Virtualization and Cloud Growth

By 2021, cloud data centers will process almost all (94 percent) workloads and compute instances, meaning traditional data centers will only account for 6 percent. While the total number of data-center workloads and compute instances is expected to more than double from 2016 to 2021, those in the cloud will nearly triple.
Cisco Global Data Center Traffic by Region
Location, Location, Location

So where are the data centers that are processing all of this information? The most are in North America and Asia Pacific, but the Middle East and Africa will see the biggest growth during the forecast period.
Datapipe's Robb Allen
Feeling SaaS-y

Software as a service is the king of the cloud, and its crown will only grow larger through 2021. That's when Cisco expects SaaS to account for 75 percent (402 million) of total cloud workloads and compute instances; it was 71 percent (141 million) in 2016. That's a 23 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

During the same time period, infrastructure-as-a-service workloads and compute instances will drop from 21 percent to 16 percent; platform as a service will account for 9 percent, up from 8 percent two years ago.
Security Pros' Biggest Concerns (Cisco)
Security and IoT

Businesses still have cloud security concerns, but they're feeling better about the technology. Cisco credits improvements in data-center governance and data control which have reduced enterprise risk and better protected consumer information.

Couple the innovation in security with the benefits cloud computing provides – notably scalability – and you have the biggest reasons for cloud growth, the study says. Add in the fact that Internet of Things (IoT) applications such as smart cars, smart cities, connected health and digital utilities require scalable computing and storage solutions to accommodate new and expanding data-center demands. Look for the number of IoT connections to jump from 5.8 billion to 13.7 billion between 2016 and 2021, Cisco says.

Big Data Forecast (Cisco)
Big Data

Cisco predicts the data stored in data centers around the world will increase five-fold, from 286 exabytes in 2016 to 1.3 zettabytes in 2021. The amount of big data, however, will jump by a factor of eight during the same period.

Much of this also, of course, is driven by IoT. Cisco says the total amount of data created (and not necessarily stored) by any device will reach 847 ZB per year by 2021, up from 218 ZB per year in 2016.
Cisco SDN/NFV Traffic Growth
Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

More than two-thirds of all data centers will have fully or partially adopted software-defined networking technology by 2021, Cisco says. And as the chart below shows, SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) are expected to carry more than half of traffic within data centers just three years from now.

So what can partners take away from Cisco's study? Not only are the opportunities in cloud and data-center sales nearly infinite, the same could be said for IoT, analytics, SDN, and even security. If you aren't transitioning to digital services, why not?

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