Monday, February 26, 2018

All data centre traffic becomes cloud data centre traffic

Cisco is now predicting that global cloud data center traffic will reach 19.5 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2021, up from 6.0 ZB per year in 2016 – a 3.3-fold growth, representing a 27 percent compound annual growth rate from 2016 to 2021.  By that year, the Cisco forecasters will have a very difficult time distinguishing regular data centre traffic from cloud data centre traffic.  Fully 95 percent of data centre traffic will be cloud data centre traffic.  This does not necessarily mean public data centre traffic, just that nearly all data centres, public and private, will have adopted cloud virtualisation technologies by that date. Cisco’s definition of cloud encompasses virtualisation in networks, servers, storage, applications, and services.

Earlier security concerns about sharing servers and storage resources amongst applications, even within an organisation, have given way to the forces of cost and power efficiency. Data is now much less stored and processed in a confined physical environment. More and more, even “data at rest” moves to wherever the algorithms of efficiency demand.  This has huge implications not only for large data sets moving across wide-area boundaries, but also for east-west traffic within data centre campuses.  Virtualisation means that data forever will be on the move.

The newly-published Cisco Global Cloud Index (2016-2021), which is now in its seventh annual edition, predicts that the number of hyperscale, public cloud data centres will nearly double from 338 in 2016 to 628 globally in 2021.  It will take a massive construction effort to pull this off.  Nearly every month, we report when AWS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, IBM, Oracle etc. unveils plans for new facilities. Typically, these are warehouse-sized builds on a new plot of land in a remote location, where renewable energy can be procured in quantity and at a reasonable cost. Increasingly, we are seeing these data centre campuses being built close to urban centres.
With this level of expansion, one wonders why certain telcos (Verizon, Centurylink and possible AT&T) are selling off their data centers rather than holding them as strategic assets or appreciating investment. Possbily, these facilities are too old and would required extensive HVAC upgrades to accommodate the high number and density of servers that hyperscale cloud facilities require. Or maybe they realize that simply cannot compete with the likes of AWS or Microsoft Azure, so better to exit the business sooner rather than later. It is odd given the surge in cloud data centre traffic that Cisco is predicting.

Some other key findings - by 2021, hyperscale data centres will support:

  • • 53 percent of all data centre servers (27 percent in 2016)
  • • 69 percent of all data centre processing power (41 percent in 2016)
  • • 65 percent of all data stored in data centres (51 percent in 2016)
  • • 55 percent of all data centre traffic (39 percent in 2016)
  • • By 2021, 94 percent of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centres; 6 percent will be processed by traditional data centres.
  • • Overall data centre workloads and compute instances will more than double (2.3-fold) from 2016 to 2021; however, cloud workloads and compute instances will nearly triple (2.7-fold) over the same period.
  • • The workload and compute instance density for cloud data centres was 8.8 in 2016 and will grow to 13.2 by 2021. Comparatively, for traditional data centres, workload and compute instance density was 2.4 in 2016 and will grow to 3.8 by 2021.
  • • Globally, the data stored in data centres will nearly quintuple by 2021 to reach 1.3 ZB by 2021, up 4.6-fold (a CAGR of 36%) from 286 EB in 2016.
  • • Big data will reach 403 exabytes (EB) by 2021, up almost 8-fold from 25 EB in 2016. Big data will represent 30 percent of data stored in data centres by 2021, up from 18 percent in 2016.
  • • The amount of data stored on devices will be 4.5 times higher than data stored in data centres, at 5.9 ZB by 2021.
  • • Driven largely by IoT, 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. Data created is two orders of magnitude higher than
data stored. 

  • • By 2021, big data will account for 20 percent (2.5 ZB annual, 209 EB monthly) of traffic within data centres, compared to 12 percent (593 EB annual, 49 EB monthly) in 2016.
  • • By 2021, video streaming will account for 10 percent of traffic within data centres, compared to 9 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, video will account for 85 percent of traffic from data centres to end users, compared to 78 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, search will account for 20 percent of traffic within data centres by 2021, compared to 28 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, social networking will account for 22 percent of traffic within data centres, compared to 20 percent in 2016.
  • •  By 2021, 75 percent (402 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be SaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 71 percent (141 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • • By 2021, 16 percent (85 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be IaaS workloads and compute instances, down from 21 percent (42 million) in 2016. (15% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • • By 2021, 9 percent (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).


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