Cisco argues worldwide cloud traffic will reach 8.6 zettabytes by 2019

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Global cloud traffic will more than quadruple between now and the end of 2019 from 2.1 to 8.6 zettabytes (ZB), according to research from Cisco.

The findings, which appear in the firm’s latest Global Cloud Index study, put a variety of reasons for this explosion in growth, from the continued popularity of public cloud services in the business domain, the increased degree of virtualisation in private clouds, and growth of M2M connections.

A zettabyte is 10 to the power of 21 bytes, approximately equal to a thousand exabytes or a billion terabytes. To put it another way – as Cisco described back in 2011 – an exabyte would have the capacity to hold more than 36,000 years of HD quality video. So theoretically, a zettabyte would be able to hold 36 million years of video. Better make sure you’re comfortable before diving into that particular boxset.

Yet the large numbers don’t stop there. Cisco also predicts the Internet of Everything (IoE) will generate a mind-bending 507.5 ZB per year – 42.3 ZB per month – by 2019. The repositories for the storage of data will continue to change as the years progress, with the networking giant arguing that by 2019, the majority (51%) of stored data will not be on the PC, but on smartphones, tablets, and M2M modules among others.

In terms of global data centre and cloud traffic, annual global data centre IP traffic is projected to reach 10.4 ZB by the end of 2019, up from 3.4 ZB last year. But the strain of the traffic going through the data centres is likely to be mitigated by technologies such as software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV), Cisco explains. Lower data centre tiers could carry over 40 ZB of traffic per year.

The numbers just keep going up and up; by 2019, consumer cloud storage traffic will be 1.6 gigabytes per user per month, compared to 992 megabytes per month last year. Cisco also predicts that by 2019, 55% of the consumer Internet population – more than two billion users – will be using personal cloud storage, up from 1.1bn in 2014.

These numbers aren’t as explosive, showing both the reach of cloud technologies currently and the potential user base it can still tap into, as Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing at Cisco explains.

“The Global Cloud Index highlights the fact that cloud is moving well beyond a regional trend to becoming a mainstream solution globally, with cloud traffic expected to grow more than 30% in every worldwide region over the next five years,” he said.

“Enterprise and government organisations are moving from test cloud environments to trusting clouds with their mission-critical workloads. At the same time, consumers continue to expect on-demand, anytime access to their content and services nearly everywhere,” Webster added. “This creates a tremendous opportunity for cloud operators, which will play an increasingly relevant role in the communications industry ecosystem.”

Of course, we now play the waiting game to see if these exciting predictions come true. Have hope, though, that these targets may even be conservative; in 2011, Cisco argued “today we live in a world of petabytes and exabytes, but we’ll need to add the term zettabyte to our vocabulary by 2015.”

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