Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Monday, March 1, 2021
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Cloud Workloads To Dominate The Datacenter 

The sky appears to be the only limit for the continuing growth of cloud traffic, workloads, and storage in datacenters, according to the latest industry forecast, this one by cloud vendor Cisco Systems. The annual Cisco Global Cloud Index also projects datacenter traffic will nearly triple while cloud services account for more than three quarters of all datacenter traffic by 2018.

Among the many drivers of global datacenter traffic is the forecast that half the world's projected population of 7.6 billion people by 2018 will have residential Internet access. More than half of their content – photos, videos, games – will be backed up by "personal cloud storage services," the Cisco study reckons.

Hence, datacenter traffic is expected to increase at an annual compound growth rate of 23 percent, topping 8.6 zettabytes annually by 2018. (The index defined datacenter traffic as traffic between datacenters and users, between datacenters, and within datacenters.) Fully three-quarters of datacenter traffic (6.4 zettabytes) is forecast to come from within datacenters, including storage, production, development and authentication traffic, Cisco predicted.

Cisco forecasts that global cloud traffic will grow even faster than datacenter traffic during the same period, accounting for more than three-quarters (76 percent) of annual datacenter traffic by 2018.

While public cloud workloads are expected to grow rapidly during the forecast period, the Cisco index notes that nearly 70 percent of all cloud workloads will be supported by private cloud datacenters by the end of the decade.

"This trend highlights the continued adoption and investment that enterprises and businesses are making in cloud technologies and solutions," the report's authors stressed.


Meanwhile, cloud workloads are seen growing at a 24 percent annual clip as traditional datacenter workloads decline over the next five years. An estimated 166 million cloud workloads by 2018 are expected to total a whopping 6.5 zettabytes of data.

The Cisco cloud index closely tracks with other bullish forecasts for cloud adoption through 2018. IDC earlier this week predicted that spending on public IT cloud services would jump at a compound annual growth rate of 22.8 percent over the next five years to $127 billion. It attributed much of the spending increase to the "explosion" of cloud-based applications and use cases as cloud services begin to saturate the business-to-business and consumer markets.

The expansion of cloud services is also underscored by the growing number of countries deemed to be "cloud ready." Cisco estimates that the number of countries meeting its basic "cloud ready" criteria – a single advanced application criteria for a fixed network – jumped by 30 countries to 109 countries in the last year alone. Among these are Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

Meanwhile, those countries in the "intermediate" category capable of fielding mobile networks jumped by 10 to 52 countries, the index found. Mobile network performance leaders include Belgium, China, and South Korea.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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