"Data Center to Data Center" Traffic is Growing Faster Than "Intra-Center" or "Data Center to End User" Traffic

Once upon a time, global wide area network traffic was relatively limited, and mostly represented connections between tandem switch and central office switch locations.

These days, traffic tends to be dominated by server-to-server traffic, within data centers, between data centers and then from data centers to end users.

A recent Bell Labs study forecasts total metro traffic will increase 560 percent by 2017, largely driven by IP video and the increasing adoption of cloud and data center services and applications.

According to the study, metro video traffic (including subscription TV and Internet video) will increase 720 percent by about 2017.

Metro cloud and data center traffic will increase 440 percent by 2017, the study predicts.

As the demand for video content increases, video caching is now being implemented within metro networks, moving content caching deeper into the network.

As a direct consequence, traffic between data centers in metro areas will grow, keeping much traffic off the backbone networks. That’s a significant change.

On the other hand, a growing percentage of traffic also will be moving between data centers.

Traffic between data centers is growing faster than either traffic to end-users or traffic within the data center, and by 2018,  traffic between data centers will account for almost nine percent of total data center traffic, up from nearly seven percent at the end of 2013, according to Cisco.

Until recently, metro traffic had a “north-south” flow from a content source to the end user with content sources typically located at a national central location and delivered over the wide area backbone network.

But there is a change coming, Alcatel-Lucent says. The north-south flows increasingly will be replaced by “east-west traffic  flows for traffic flows from data center to data center, increasingly located within metro centers.

There are revenue implications for providers of high-capacity metro networks and long haul bandwidth providers alike.
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