A perspective on IP traffic growth

IT professionals, perhaps more than anyone, have a sense of just how fast things are changing in this information-driven world. But Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index, an ongoing study of global IP traffic, adds perspective that may influence some of your thinking when it comes to long-range capacity planning.

Cisco says "global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold [a zettabyte is a billion terabytes] by the end of 2015, and will reach 1.4 zettabyes per year by 2017." That by itself is remarkable, but even more so when viewed in historical context. Cisco offers the chart below.

Said another way: IP traffic jumped more than fivefold in the last five years and is expected to keep ramping up at a 23% compound annual growth rate to 2017.

Of all IP traffic, consumer loads account for the bulk, some 82%, Cisco says, although business IP traffic is growing at close to the same rate, ratcheting up 21% per year for the same period.

As of last year 74% of IP traffic still originated from PCs, but that is expected to drop to 49% by 2017 as traffic from devices such as tablets and smartphones skyrockets (at 104% and 79% growth rates, respectively). That is, of course, why companies are scrambling to embrace BYOD and accounts for the spiraling demands on corporate Wi-Fi networks. Regarding the latter, Cisco predicts that "traffic from Wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2016."

In 2012 there were about two networked IP devices for every person on the planet, and by 2017 that number will approach three devices per person.

"Globally, mobile data traffic will increase thirteenfold between 2012 and 2017," Cisco predicts. That's a compound annual growth rate of 66%, three times the rate of fixed IP traffic. By 2017, more than 11 exabytes of mobile traffic will be traversing the airwaves per month (an exabyte being a billion gigabytes).

Regarding video uptake, Cisco says "global IP video traffic will be 73% of all IP traffic (both business and consumer) by 2017, up from 60% in 2012."

Hopefully your plans account for this dramatic growth. If not, time to get back to the drawing board.

Insider Shootout: Best security tools for small business
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies