What Drives Global Bandwidth Demand? Everything

No single driver accounts for the strong growth of Internet bandwidth demand in every region of the world. Instead, almost every trend in communications, computing and entertainment now collectively boosts demand for capacity.


More users, more users on mobile, more people watching video, more content consumption, stored in more places and assembled from more sources, plus globalization all contribute to higher usage.


But usage alone is not the whole story. “Where” usage occurs also has changed, with the greatest volume growth in Asia. That, in turn, leads to more traffic across Asia to and from Europe, and to and from North America.


Use of more-global internet exchange points (IXPs) likewise has affected traffic flows.


Historically, most traffic transited through US-based network access points (NAPs) in which backbones interconnected their networks and exchanged traffic. As all ISPs had to connect to the US for international transit, they also used these links to exchange domestic and regional traffic, a process referred to as tromboning.


Today, regional IXPs are used to exchange more local traffic. Still, the largest number and percentages of IXPs are located in North America, Europe and Asia. That in turn drives traffic between the three regions.


By 2018, perhaps 78 percent of all workloads will be processed in cloud data centers, Cisco argues.

But 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. 

The high growth of this segment is due to the increasing prevalence of content distribution networks, the proliferation of cloud services and the need to shuttle data between clouds, and the growing volume of data that needs to be replicated across data centers.

Data center traffic on a global scale will grow at a 23-percent CAGR, but cloud data center traffic will grow at a faster rate (32 percent CAGR) or 3.9-fold growth from 2013 to 2018, Cisco predicts. .


Cloud workloads are expected to nearly triple (grow 2.9-fold) from 2013 to 2018, whereas traditional data center workloads are expected to see a global decline, for the first time, at a negative two-percent CAGR from 2013 to 2018.


From 2013 to 2018, the Middle East and Africa is expected to have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (54‑percent CAGR), followed by Central and Eastern Europe (39-percent CAGR) and Asia Pacific (37‑percent CAGR).


      Cloud Traffic Growth by Region, in Exabytes
Region
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
CAGR 2013–18
Asia Pacific
489
716
1,010
1,368
1,802
2,331
37%
Central and Eastern Europe
85
120
170
238
331
442
39%
Latin America
89
130
180
240
312
394
35%
Middle East and Africa
31
53
86
132
193
262
54%
North America
643
857
1,102
1,384
1,701
2,077
26%
Western Europe
311
401
502
631
791
988
26%
Source: Cisco Analysis, 2014


      Regional Distribution of Total Data Center Workloads, in Millions
Total Data Center Workloads in Millions
    
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
CAGR 2013–2018
Asia Pacific
16.3
20.9
28.4
37.9
48.0
61.2
30%
Central and Eastern Europe
2.3
2.7
3.1
3.6
4.3
5.1
17%
Latin America
2.6
3.2
3.9
4.7
5.7
6.9
21%
Middle East and Africa
1.8
2.3
2.9
3.5
4.3
5.2
24%
North America
56.1
62.8
68.7
73.9
80.3
88.0
9%
Western Europe
29.2
33.3
36.5
39.7
42.2
45.1
9%
Source: Cisco Analysis, 2014
The portion of traffic residing within the data center will decline slightly over the forecast period, accounting for nearly 77 percent of data center traffic in 2013 and about 75 percent by 2018. 

Despite the decline, the majority of traffic remains within the data center because of factors such as the functional separation of application servers, storage, and databases, which generates replication, backup, and read and write traffic traversing the data center. 

Furthermore, parallel processing divides tasks and sends them to multiple servers, contributing to internal data center traffic.




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