Cisco updates Cisco Visual Networking Index

Cisco has released the 12th annual Virtual Networking Index, its annual prediction of future bandwidth demands and assessment of demand drivers. The 12th edition of the index continues the tradition of forecasting huge capacity demands – IP traffic will hit an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, Cisco says – but differs from its predecessors in predicting that machine-to-machine connections that support Internet of Things (IoT) will account for more than half of the 27.1 billion devices the company believes will be connected by 2021. However, such devices will account for only 5% of global IP traffic.

Cisco has released the 12th annual Virtual Networking Index, its annual prediction of future bandwidth demands and assessment of demand drivers. The 12th edition of the index continues the tradition of forecasting huge capacity demands – IP traffic will hit an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, Cisco says – but differs from its predecessors in predicting that machine-to-machine connections that support Internet of Things (IoT) will account for more than half of the 27.1 billion devices the company believes will be connected by 2021. However, such devices will account for only 5% of global IP traffic.

Instead, video will remain the predominant IP bandwidth driver. Video will account for 80% of Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67 percent in 2016, according to the VNI. Within this context, Cisco predicts that emerging video formats such as live Internet video will jump 15-fold to account for 13% of Internet video traffic by 2021.In addition to the related increase inlive streaming video, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will increase 20-fold by 2021, the VNI predicts.

Much of this traffic will bypass the network core, the VNI forecasts. The VNI states that 35% of the world's Internet traffic will be metro-to-metro by 2021, up from 22% in 2016. Another 23% will travel across regional backbones without reaching cross-country backbones by 2021, versus 20% in 2016. That leaves about 41% for cross-country backbones, a steep decline from the 58% of total traffic such networks carried last year.

Finally, as more communications services providers adopt software-defined network (SDN) principles, the VNI forecasts that software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) traffic will grow at a CAGR of 44% during the reported period, much faster than the 5% expected for traditional WAN. As a result, SD-WAN services will compose 25% of WAN traffic by 2021.

The "Cisco VNI Complete IP Traffic Forecast Update, 2016–2021" white paper is available on the Cisco website.

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