Feeds

Most 'cloud' traffic never sees the cloud: Cisco

Bits are stay at home types and find the wide world a scary place

Security for virtualized datacentres

A disconnect seems to be emerging between the technologies vendors believe are important in the cloud, and the way traffic is flowing between cloud data centres.

While much is made of a world in which workloads are so virtualised they float around between data centres like quanta teleporting around the world, most of the world's traffic leaves a disk, travels a few feet to a server, hops into a virtual machine, gets munched, and returns home to the disk.

Data centre, traffic, in other words, looks rather like road traffic in meatspace: most cars spend most of their time within a few kilometres of their home base.

There's a growing conviction among vendors that users want their virtual machines to be able to span different data centres – the vendors believe there's a high demand for the ability to pick up a VM workload in Sydney and move it to, say, San Francisco.

But is this supported by the data? Right now, not much: according to Cisco's Global Cloud Index available((PDF) here), just seven per cent of cloud traffic is travelling between data centres, and most of that's for disaster recovery and backup. While live workloads do migrate around the cloud, if Cisco's data is accurate, they don't make up a significant chunk of inter-data-centre traffic.

Cisco Global Cloud Index prediction

Whence goes your cloud traffic, according to Cisco

Most of the traffic generated by the cloud remains not just in the cloud, but inside single data centres – 76 percent of it, in fact. The remaining 17 per cent of traffic comprises what you and I probably think is the whole point of the cloud: delivering stuff to users.

That puts an interesting cast on the numbers Cisco is presenting for cloud growth. The CAGR of 35 per cent looks relatively muted, even though there are lots of Zettabytes involved – Cisco says the annual 1.8 ZB of cloud data centre traffic predicted for 2013 will grow to 5.3 ZB by 2017. Traffic growth in traditional data centres will be far lower, running at about 12 percent CAGR, Cisco says.

If the distribution of traffic remains unchanged, that extra 3.1 ZB of cloud data centre traffic will contribute just 0.53 ZB to the Internet and private IP WANs. As Cisco notes, the distribution of traffic will be subject to opposing drivers: for example, more video means more traffic being sent to users for less in-DC interactions (since a video has a big file size relative to the smallish database operations needed to manage, locate and transmit it).

On the other hand, virtualisation of activities like storage drives the intra-DC traffic up, since the handling of data will increasingly be divorced from the physical infrastructure. In 2012, the index states, cloud DCs ran four times as many workloads per server as the traditional data centres; by 2017, the cloud will run seven times as many workloads per server.

This, however, assumes that in-house DC operators will be stick-in-the-mud types who, in 2017, will still be running around the same two-workloads-per-server as they run today. While this is interpreted as a migration of workloads from data centres to the cloud, The Register notes that many of the growing traffic segments (such as consumer video) aren't things that drive traffic in the DC of a bank or insurance company.

The Register notes that there's at least one physical constraint that caps the growth of traffic leaving the DC: the network itself. Akamai's latest State of the Internet report puts the global average connection speed at just 3.3 Mbps. However, even growth in higher-speed broadband will probably be outpaced by what's happening inside the data centres.

Meanwhile, the traffic explosion happening inside the refrigerator won't be bad news for people whose job it is to keep the traffic flowing under their feet: because that's where the real action is. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
VMware's tool to harden virtual networks: a spreadsheet
NSX security guide lands in intriguing format
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.