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Cloud Services

Cisco: Cloud Traffic Booming – Except Between Datacenters

Anyone looking for shocking revelations from the Cisco Systems third annual Global Cloud Index report just released is going to be disappointed with its general findings. Cloud traffic is growing at a robust 35 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and will represent about two-thirds of overall datacenter traffic by 2017. (See Cisco Report: 35% CAGR for Cloud Data Center Traffic.)

The CAGR figure may even disappoint anyone who thought cloud traffic would continue growing at the 66 percent CAGR witnessed in the first Cisco cloud report in 2011. (See Quantifying Cloud.)

Cloud traffic will maintain a 35% CAGR through 2017, not like the good old days of 2011, but still robust.
Cloud traffic will maintain a 35% CAGR through 2017, not like the good old days of 2011, but still robust.

However, within the broader growth story, there are some other numbers worth considering. For one, about 76 percent of datacenter traffic will remain within the datacenter, being generated by storage, production and development data in virtualized environments. "This is an example of how virtualization is affecting datacenters," says Thomas Barnett, director of service provider thought leadership at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Another number may catch the eye of any large operator of many datacenters. Only seven percent of datacenter traffic during the forecast period of 2012 to 2017 will be moving between datacenters. That may seem like a very small number at a time when the datacenter landscape is undergoing a building boom.

Datacenter-to-datacenter traffic pales in comparison to intra-datacenter traffic.
Datacenter-to-datacenter traffic pales in comparison to intra-datacenter traffic.

"Part of the reason for the low number is that service providers are pushing more of their content out to the edge for easier access by customers," says Shruti Jain, manager of marketing programs at Cisco. Much of the traffic that is moving between datacenters is the result of disaster recovery applications, data back-up, and software and system updates.

"What will make that figure go up is if we start to see more disaster recovery adoption, or maybe a model of wholesaling of datacenter capacity," Barnett says.

That service providers are doing such a good job of pushing content to the network edge is encouraging, though the fairly light traffic between datacenters might also reinforce the belief that datacenter operators could take their time applying software defined networking (SDN) between multiple datacenters.

The remaining 17 percent of datacenter traffic, by the way, will be cloud-based video streaming, collaboration applications, connected devices, and other cloud-based uses, according to Cisco's report.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

victorblake 10/16/2013 | 12:46:13 PM
Re: GCI vs VNI It isn't clear to me that Cisco (or anyone else for that matter) would easily be able to distinguish between cloud services traffic and pre-cloud web service traffic between data centers. They are after all the same protocols IP, TCP, XML, SOAP, REST, etc. In addition I'd point out that I think it is increasingly difficult for vendors to provide high quality data because the market share among equipment vendors has shifted enough that vendors are going to see traffic (a) for which their equipment is well suited and used and (b) which their customers choose to share with them.


Furthermore alot of DC peer traffic is SSL, so they wouldn't see any of that as anything but SSL and wouldn't know at all what's in there. Enterprises running DC peer cloud services or DC to enterprise (smaller DC) are likely running SSL.
DOShea 10/16/2013 | 12:27:29 PM
GCI vs VNI The Global Cloud Index should not be confused with Cisco Virtual Network Index, though I wonder if the CGI will generate as much debate as the VNI: http://www.lightreading.com/author.asp?section_id=193&doc_id=434842
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