Clouds coming in to dominate data centre skyline

27 April 2018 | James Pearce

Data from the cloud will represent 95% of total data centre traffic by 2021, it is estimated, highlighting the importance of cloud service adoption in driving data centre demand and growth.

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The figures were revealed as part of Cisco’s seventh annual Global Cloud Index, which looks at data centre virtualisation and cloud computing, and how these have become fundamental elements in transforming how many business and consumer network services are delivered.

It is not just business applications that are driving cloud growth. Cisco’s study found that consumer services such as video streaming, social networking, and internet search are among the most popular cloud applications in use. Key business drivers include enterprise resource planning, collaboration, and analytics.

In 2016, traditional data centre traffic was around 849 exabytes while cloud traffic was 6 zettabytes. The former is predicted to rise to 1.7ZB by 2021, while cloud services will treble to 18.9ZB – taking total data centre traffic to 20.6ZB.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) will be the most popular cloud service model in 2021, Cisco predicts. The growth will see 199 million cloud workloads expand to 534 million cloud workloads, meaning around 94% of all workloads will be cloud-based by 2021. This would demonstrate a compound annual growth rate of 22% at a time when traditional data centre workloads are declining 5% a year.

•  By 2021, 75% (402 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be SaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 71% (141 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).

•  By 2021, 16% (85 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be IaaS workloads and compute instances, down from 21% (42 million) in 2016. (15% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).

•  By 2021, 9% (46 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be PaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 8% (16 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).

In the past, security concerns have been a major barrier to cloud adoption, Cisco said. Improvements in data centre governance and data control have helped to minimise enterprise risk and better protect consumer information. 

Security innovations coupled with tangible cloud computing benefits, including scalability and economies of scale, play key roles in fueling the cloud growth projected in the study. 

Additionally, the growth of internet of things (IoT) applications such as smart cars, smart cities, connected health and digital utilities requires scalable computing and storage solutions to accommodate new and expanding data center demands. 

By 2021, Cisco expects IoT connections to reach 13.7 billion, up from 5.8 billion in 2016. 

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