One under-appreciated aspect of the move towards 'cloud' computing and services is the extent to which vast volumes of network traffic will be intra-cloud, rather than cloud-to-user, so there's naturally a set of new challenges - and new opportunities - for network operators. By Ian Scales.
Cisco has set the foundations for an interesting five year progress chart with its inaugural Cisco Global Cloud Index (2010 - 2015). There's lots of very big numbers: cloud computing traffic will grow 12-fold from 130 exabytes to reach a total of 1.6 zettabytes annually by 2015, says Cisco (1.6 zettabytes will bring you 1.6 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming).
For a full run-down of the results see an excellent contributed story to TelecomTV by Telecom Nation
But the kicker is this: 76 per cent of all data center traffic will actually stay in the data center by 2015 as huge computing workloads and data storage requirements are split up and distributed across different platforms.
In fact Cisco reckons that only 17 per cent of the total traffic will be data-centre-to-user.
The rest is internal to the data centre and another 7 per cent (nearly half the 17 per cent end-user traffic, note) will travel to other data centers as part of some sort of complex split process or replication function.
It's perhaps useful to go way back to Sun Microsystems' the 'network is the computer' nostrum and imagine the data centre as analogous to a high-speed memory address bus, the network of linked data centres as being equivalent to the main bus in the computer (linking the cards) and the video display and keyboard USB as the asymmetrical and relatively low-speed access network to the end-user.
This was also a theme picked up in TelecomTV's recent Main Agenda Interactive: Is HTML5 your new best friend? when the panel turned to how carriers will find new roles for quality network infrastructure. One of those roles was to connect data centres at low latency. Watch the video below.
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The Main Agenda: Is HTML5 your new best friend? Part 2. Virtualise the network and "Mash-in"