Demands on cloud data centers have been increasing rapidly over the past several years as businesses incorporate new technologies into their infrastructures. Consumers have also played a role in the growing volume of data with rich content-generating smartphones and a desire for shareable media. According to Cisco's latest Global Cloud Index – which is created by sampling 40 terabytes of traffic from various global data centers – cloud storage is the leading factor that will push global data center traffic to an expected 6.6 zettabytes per year by 2016. Other projections include:
• Cloud computing traffic is expected to grow six-fold by 2016
• The cloud will account for 76 percent of data center traffic
• End users accessing cloud services will account for another 17 percent of total traffic
• Data replication and software updates will generate 7 percent of data center traffic
As these numbers suggest, cloud adoption is likely to accelerate over the next several years, leading to a parallel increase in storage demand. One of the factors contributing to this trend, according to Cisco, is the transition from traditional data center workloads to virtual servers.
Virtualization is key
Many industries have turned to virtualization for the purposes of hardware consolidation. By reducing the number of individual machines, the technology can allow for better optimized hardware. That has played a key role in lowering the U.S. government's IT spending. Speaking with GCN columnist Rutrell Yasin, Bernard Mazer, CIO for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Protection, described server virtualization as "critical" for designing modern data centers. Mazer noted his agency has become more hardware agnostic since deploying its virtual machines, which facilitated a cloud migration.