Ready to Talk Some Zettabytes? 

So, we all have a pretty good handle on what a gigabyte is. And many of us know that if you put a thousand of those together, you get a terabyte. But, what's a million gigabytes? Well, it's a petabyte. But, of course, that's nothing. Google was already processing around 24 petabytes of data a day back in 2009. As we move on up to a billion gigabytes, or an exabyte, we're getting more serious. In 2004, for the first time, global monthly Internet traffic surpassed a single exabyte. 

Today, however, I'd like to train your focus on the concept of a zettabyte. No, it's not a zillion gigabytes, but a dizzying trillion gigabytes nonetheless. While back in 2009, the entire World Wide Web was estimated to be only half a zettabyte in size, it is zettabytes that we need to think about as we look out over the horizon at the next four or five years. Or maybe I should rephrase that and say, as we set our sights skyward and "cloud-ward."


Cloud Facts and Figures to Boggle the Mind

Late last month, Cisco released its Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014-2019. And it is all about the zettabytes:

  • In 2014, traditional data center traffic was 1.3 zettabytes (ZB). By 2019, this will have increased modestly to 1.8 ZB, according to the Global Cloud Index.
  • But, move over traditional data center traffic, and make way for cloud data center traffic. Cloud data center traffic accounted for 2.1 ZB in 2014, and by 2019? By then, it will have quadrupled to 8.6 ZB.
  • Thus, by 2019, we'll have 10.4 zesty zettabytes of global data center traffic, and 83 percent of it will come from cloud services and applications.
  • Need something more concrete in terms of visualizing what 10.4 ZB amounts to? Well, it's equal to about 25 minutes of daily streamed ultrahigh-definition video for every member of the world's population (7.6 billion) in 2019. Or, for a more businesslike stat, 10.4 ZB is equivalent to 21 hours of daily web conferencing for every member of the world's workforce in 2019.

But enough of the zettabyte zingers. The Global Cloud Index is chock-full of other forecast information about cloud. Here is some further food for thought:

  • By 2019, 86 percent of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers.
  • By 2019, 56 percent of cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers, up from 30 percent in 2014. Conversely, 44 percent of cloud workloads will be in private cloud data centers, down from 70 percent in 2014.
  • By 2019, 55 percent (2 billion) of the consumer Internet population will use personal cloud storage, up from 42 percent in 2014.
  • According to the Cisco report, cloud provider deployments have had a positive impact on IPv6 content and its availability, contributing to a nearly 4 percent increase in the number of IPv6-capable websites between October 2014 and October 2015.
  • All regions of the world, says the report, are making significant progress toward increased cloud readiness, as measured by analysis of Internet ubiquity and network speeds and latency.

These highlights just skim the surface of the report but are enough to show that cloud is an IT arena that is poised for significant growth. Have a look at the complete Global Cloud Index if you need further convincing. You might also be interested in seeing what Learning@Cisco has been up to when it comes to preparing IT professionals for careers in cloud.

Let us know in the Comments section below whether your company or organization is getting on board with cloud or is still a ways off, and what the general drift of the cloud conversation has been so far.



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Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.