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The Emerging Business Technology Outlook for 2015

The savvy CEOs that approved significant investments in business technology during 2014 are reaping the rewards of their first-to-market leadership advantage. Meanwhile, executives at the fast-follower companies are no doubt assessing how they plan to catch-up with the early-adopters of cloud services in 2015.

This rapidly evolving IT transformation scenario is pervasive. It's happening in every corner of the globe. So, what's the outlook for worldwide cloud service adoption and how will the key trends impact cloud computing infrastructure investment? To get the answers to those questions, we'll look at the findings from the latest Cisco Global Cloud Index (GCI).

Cisco forecasts continued strong growth of cloud traffic, cloud workloads and cloud storage -- with private cloud significantly larger than public cloud. Over the next five years, their market study projects data center traffic to nearly triple, with cloud representing 76 percent of total data center traffic.

Global Data Center Traffic Trends

The study predicts that global data center traffic will nearly triple from 2013 to 2018 with a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 percent -- growing from 3.1 zettabytes/year in 2013 to 8.6 zettabytes/year in 2018. Let's just consider that data. Can you imagine that growth? Probably not.

Here's how to visualize the magnitude and scale of that forecast. The 8.6 zettabytes of data center traffic predicted for 2018 is equivalent to streaming all of the movies (approximately 500,000) and television shows (3 million) ever made in ultra-high definition (UHD) 250,000 times. Wow, indeed.

Global cloud traffic is growing faster than the overall global data center traffic. In 2013, cloud accounted for 54 percent of total data center traffic, and, by 2018, cloud will account for 76 percent of total data center traffic. Note; data center traffic includes data center-to-user traffic, along with data center-to-data center traffic and traffic that remains within data centers.

Private vs. Public Cloud Adoption and Growth

"When people discuss cloud, they often focus on public cloud services or public cloud storage services. However, a very significant majority of today's cloud workloads are actually processed in private cloud environments," said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president at Cisco. "Even with public cloud workloads having significant growth, by 2018, almost 70 percent of cloud workloads will still be private cloud-related, requiring the ability of workloads to bridge across a hybrid cloud environment."

By 2018, 69 percent (113.5 million) of the cloud workloads will be in private cloud data centers, down from 78 percent (44.2 million) in 2013, and 31 percent (52 million) of the cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers, up from 22 percent (12.7 million) in 2013.

The National Cloud Readiness Rankings

According to Cisco's assessment, the number of countries deemed "cloud ready" continues to grow. In 2013, just 79 countries met the single advanced application criteria for fixed network. In 2014, that number grew to 109 countries. Last year, 42 countries met the intermediate single application readiness criteria for mobile networks. This year, that number grew to 52 countries.

The countries with the leading fixed network performance in 2014 are (in alphabetical order) Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

The countries with the leading mobile network performance in 2014 are (in alphabetical order) Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar and Uruguay.

The GCI forecast also includes a supplement on Cloud Readiness Regional Details, which examines the fixed and mobile network abilities of each global region (from nearly 150 countries) to support business and consumer cloud-computing applications and services.

Other Emerging Business Technology Trends

Current trends are placing new demands on data centers that were typically built for legacy business technologies and a different set of user requirements. Moreover, existing data center networks were designed primarily for traditional voice and data traffic and incorporate assumptions about applications that are no longer accurate. They’re geared toward relatively static and predictable traffic flows – with mostly on-premises IT consumption and a much narrower set of devices and user applications.

In contrast, here's what a CIO will likely encounter today:

  • Mobile devices with enterprise applications are commonplace. Combined, all those mobile devices with cloud access will have download 77 billion apps in 2014.
  • Traffic flows are unpredictable. The traditional data center was designed primarily for north-south traffic flows, but today 76 percent of traffic flows east-west -- within the data center.
  • Businesses increasingly rely on distributed database and enterprise applications. 80 percent of enterprise applications will be delivered as a service.
  • Server workloads are changing. It's estimated that nearly two-thirds of enterprise workloads will be processed in the cloud by 2016.

In the rapidly emerging digital services environment, enterprise network bandwidth needs are far more demanding. But the internal customers of IT organizations still expect to get their apps and resources delivered instantly and securely. For many CIOs, this is the reality of today's environment.

If you're not already experiencing the performance and capacity challenges that arise from these new virtualized and cloud-connected applications, then you will be soon. That's your outlook for 2015.