The cloud is growing faster than the networks it relies on

Expect to see data transfer limits as commercial and data center networks get maxed out

According to a recent Cisco report, annual global data center IP traffic will reach 4.8 zettabytes (that's 4.8 million petabytes) by 2016. In 2015, global data center IP traffic will reach 402 exabytes (that's 402,000 petabytes) per month. What's more, global data center IP traffic will increase fourfold over the next five years. Overall data center IP traffic will grow 33 percent per year from 2010 to 2015.

Cloud computing is driving much of this growth, both from business and consumer usage. "The evolution of cloud services is driven in large part by users' expectations to access applications and content anytime, from anywhere, over any network, and with any device," the Cisco report says. Indeed, by 2014, more than 50 percent of all workloads will be processed in the cloud.

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What does this mean for you?

The need for more bandwidth persists, for one. We want ubiquitous access to network resources, and that's not just a trend, it's a movement. We already understood this as 2G led to 3G and now 4G. Also, there's the constant upgrading of pipes in and out of data centers, as well as within data centers.

But even as broadband providers and data centers alike increase their network capacity, I suspect we'll soon hit walls within many enterprises and ISPs, and perhaps limits will be placed on the amount of data that can move from place to place. Certainly, cable operators are suggesting they'll do this, and cellular carriers and some DSL providers have already moved this way. I also see such restrictions imposed by cloud storage providers, including Box.net, Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite, and even Amazon.com's S3.

We'll have to figure out the bandwidth issues along with the rise of cloud computing, somehow, some way. The growth of cloud computing will outpace the growth of network infrastructure, and that will mean both enterprise IT and consumers will have to make some tough calls.

This article, "The cloud is growing faster than the networks it relies on," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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