A very open cloud

By 2016, the total amount of data generated by businesses will double, but most countries will actually decrease proportionally what they send over managed networks.
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

Businesses will double the amount of data they send across networks in the next few years. In the US, that means greater use of managed IP. Australia, though, like a lot of countries, is heading in the opposite direction.

Cisco's Virtual Networking Index provides sophisticated forecasts of how we will use networks over the next few years. It estimates that the amount of data transferred by businesses will increase from 6 trillion gigabytes last year to 12 trillion by 2016. Or, if you prefer, 12,051 petabytes.

The cloud is driving a lot of the change, and the US has a head start, accounting for a quarter of all the world's business data — now and by 2016. Australia won't even reach 1 percent of the total. Although it appears that Australia carries more data, when you relate it to population size, the Americans are sending more than twice as much. They're beaten only by the Canadians, who will be one third more prolific than their southern neighbour in a few years' time.

North America stands out from the rest of the world in another way. The US, if the forecasts are right, is just about the only country that will manage to grow usage whilst increasing the proportion of data carried across managed networks. Canada manages to grow both proportionately. Everywhere else, it seems, greater business use comes with a drop in the ratio of managed traffic. Australia, where managed data accounts for 37 percent of all business use, will fall sharply by 2016, with just 29 percent of business data carried across managed networks.

Mobility has its part to play, although not as much as you might expect. In Australia, mobile data will account for 13 percent of all business traffic by 2016, up from 7 percent last year. But the US is seeing an even greater growth in mobility — from 3 percent of business traffic last year up to 11 percent by 2016. Then there are the emerging nations like India, where half of the 137 percent increase in business data will come from mobile use.

You'd expect emerging nations like India and China to carry an increasing proportion of their data across managed networks as they play catch-up with the West, but that's not the case. Both countries expect to see the proportion fall — down to just 23 percent, in India's case. So the US is unique in terms of the importance placed on managed data.

The decreasing relative importance of managed networks in most places is, presumably, a reflection of how the data is used. Perhaps the expectation is that there will be more web browsing and video, for instance. Or maybe Americans are more on the ball when it comes to protecting information. Maybe the rest of us are convinced that cloud apps with a password are the only protection we need. I just hope everyone else knows what they're doing.

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