Cisco's latest Global Cloud Index (2011-2016) reports forecasts of total data center traffic volume of 6.6 zettabytes by 2016, with cloud traffic alone reaching 4.3 zettabytes by that year.
In 2011, cloud traffic was just 683 exabytes, which is growing at a 44 percent average growth rate per year between 2011 and 2016.
The majority of data center traffic, about 76 percent, will stay within data centers; it will be consumed by storage, production and development data. 7 percent will be attributed to data replication processes between data centers, while only 17 percent will come from end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, emailing and video streaming, Cisco predicts.
North America has generated the most cloud traffic in 2011 (261 exabytes), but Asia Pacific will be growing much faster and overtake America to account for 1.5 zettabytes in 2016, followed by North America with 1.1 zettabytes and Europe with 983 exabytes.
To provide a perspective on the sheer volume of the data traffic, Cisco said that 6.6 zettabytes is equivalent to 92 trillion hours of streaming music, 16 trillion hours of business Web conferencing, or 7 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming.
Wolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on cloud computing and disruptive technologies, and maintains the conceivablytech.com blog. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and market research, he previously published TG Daily and was managing editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.
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