Cisco's Weird Numbers Track Data Explosion

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Cisco does a thorough job of predicting traffic trends on the Internet. Of course, as long as those numbers go up-and they certainly do go up-it essentially is Cisco's way of telling the world how much its equipment will be needed.

The latest release of Cisco's Visual Networking Index, which covers the period from last year to 2014, predicts that traffic will be 767 exabytes-which, as we all know, is three-quarters of a zettabyte-by the end of the period of the study. The 2014 level, the company's release says, will be 100 exabytes higher than the level in 2013. The increase alone is 10 times the traffic of the Internet in 2008.

It's not surprising that video dominates, both because it is by nature data-intensive and because its use is growing. The story says that 91 percent of IP traffic globally will be video by 2014. To watch all the video that will cross the Internet in 2014, the company said, would take 72 million years (or, judging by reviews, the time it seems to take to watch a couple of consecutive screenings of "Sex and the City 2").

It's interesting to compare Cisco's current prediction to what it has said before. Last June, the company said that 2008 usage was 9 exabytes a month. The company said that the rate would reach 56 extabytes a month by 2013, which would annualize to 672 exabytes. The current release says that the 767 exabytes of traffic predicted for 2014 will be 100 exabytes more than the previous year (2013). Thus, its prediction actually shrank by 5 exabytes, if the numbers are to be taken literally. The level of video will be about the same.

The 2008 report ran from 2007 to 2012.
The firm said that in 2012, global IP traffic will be 44 exabytes per month, compared to 7 in 2007. The increase was slated to be 100 times compared to 2012. The release said that global IP traffic in December 2012 will be 11 exabytes more than in the previous December. The year-over-year increase will be greater than the increase between 2000 and 2008.


Some basic conclusions can be drawn from all of this. The first is that there will be a lot of data flowing over IP networks, and that the rate of growth is accelerating. Secondly, Cisco has made many predictions but hasn't clearly stated how well the guesses held up. Finally, the news here is good for Cisco and other vendors of networking infrastructure.