We’ve reviewed the trends associated with data center IP traffic growth and the sources of that growth; now let’s look at the trends associated with the workloads running in data centers.

As per the chart above derived from the Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2012-2017, cloud workloads will grow 500% faster than traditional workloads from 2012 to 2017.  The ratio of workloads to non-virtualized traditional servers increases from 1.7 to 2.3 while the ratio of workloads to non-virtualized cloud servers will increase will increase from 6.5 to 16.7 during that same time period.

The bottom line: by 2017, almost two-thirds of all workloads will be processed via cloud servers.  The drivers for this are the ability to increase capacity or add functionality and capabilities dynamically (on the fly) via subscription-based or pay-per-use services.  Virtualization of course begat the cloud; the technology is the foundation for the modern cloud movement due to its ability to better handle the dynamic deployment of services.

This growth explains why the concept of the software-defined data center (SDDC) has been promoted so heavily.  SDDC extends virtualization concepts of abstraction, pooling, and automation from compute to all of the resources of the data center.  This includes but is not limited to the virtualization of storage (software-defined storage, or SDS) and  networking (software-defined networking, or SDN.)

In the next part of this series, we’ll finish our discussions of data center trends by looking at estimates of the sheer number of servers in some of the largest data centers.

This is part 4 of an on-going series.  Part 1: Virtualization isn’t the next big thing (NBT) because it was the last big thing (LBT); part 2: data center IP traffic growth; part 3: data center IP traffic sources.



  1. Great series of articles! Thank you for sharing. It is unfortunate that the term “cloud” has been so bandied about by everyone striving to stay relevant – It is a powerful platform. There is so much noise out there that I find I have to lead conversations by gaining an understanding of what my prospective customers think “cloud” means.

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