Clouds Ahead

Nov 29 2011   11:41AM GMT

As Data Traffic Soars, You Need a Cloud Strategy

Pedro Pereira Pedro Pereira Profile: Pedro Pereira

All right, folks, expect to see a ton more bad cloud-related puns in coming months, as the trend toward moving IT assets to the cloud accelerates. You might say cloud business is about to soar. (See, I warned you!)

Cisco Systems, the networking giant, has released a study predicting that global traffic generated by cloud services will reach 1.6 zetabytes by 2015. That would represent a 12-fold increase from the traffic generated in 2010.

What’s a zetabyte, you say? Glad you asked. One zetabyte is roughly 1,000 exabytes, 1 million petabytes, or about 1 billion gigabytes. Let’s say your laptop has a 500-GB hard drive – it would take some 320,000 laptops to handle 1.6 zetabytes.

Considering the world’s population of 6.8 billion souls, 320,000 laptops isn’t that impressive, I grant you. But what if I tell you that 1.6 ZBs is only one third of the 4.8 ZBs of traffic Cisco predicts data centers will generate globally by 2015? And what if I tell you that number is still only part of the amount of data floating around the digital world? Suffice it to say that by 2020, the total volume of data generated in the digital world is expected to reach 35 zetabytes.

Between email, databases and business, media and collaboration applications, a whole lot of information is being created every second.

It would take way too many zeros to tell you how much that is in gigabytes. The point is it’s a lot.

What does it mean to you, though? For starters, you need to understand that data volumes are growing exponentially. Between email, databases and business, media and collaboration applications, a whole lot of information is being created every second. And don’t forget the smartphones and tablets that are increasingly finding their way into corporate environments.

All of that puts pressure on businesses to get a handle on who is using the data, where and for what. There are security, privacy and management implications that a business ignores at its own peril.

And don’t forget cost. You reach a point at which adding physical servers and storage becomes prohibitive, and that’s when you really need to start thinking about cloud-based resources if you haven’t already.

Interestingly enough, one of the main reasons data volumes are growing so fast is the transition to cloud services. Every time you send a file into the ether, it generates traffic data several times the size of the file itself. So it’s a self-feeding thing. As the cloud generates more traffic, in many cases you’ll be better off using the cloud for management and cost reasons.

And what all that means is that if you don’t have a cloud strategy yet, it’s time to sit down and get serious about it.

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  • James Murray
    That's a lot of data. I'm thinking that over the next accounting life cycle the dollars put away for capital replacement of old servers could be spent someplace else if those servers were moved into the cloud rather than replaced. Good article
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