3 ways network admins can combat the IP traffic surge

Cisco’s latest VNI forecast shows overall business Internet protocol use increased 18 percent last year. How to avoid IT gridlock

Cisco VNI forecast 2014 Canada

Buckle up, network administrators. There’s a heck of a lot of traffic coming down the pike.

According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI), global IP traffic on fixed and mobile connections is expected to reach an annual run rate of 1.6 zettabytes by 2018. That’s more than one-and-a-half trillion gigabytes per year. By 2018, more IP traffic will be generated each year than all the IP traffic generated between 1984 and 2013.

VNI figures show the main drivers of this traffic upsurge are video, machine-to-machine (M2M) and mobile. Here’s how it all plays out in Canada:

Business Internet video traffic: 

– grew by 41 per cent in 2013

– will grow more than three-fold by 2018

– will be 52 per cent of all business Internet traffic in 2018, up from 35 per cent in 2013


– M2M modules will account for 4.6 per cent of all Canadian IP traffic in 2018, up from 0.4 per cent in 2013

– M2M modules will account for 48 per cent of all networked devices in Canada in 2018, up from 29 per cent last year

Business mobile data traffic: 

– jumped by 77 per cent in 2013

– will grow eight-fold between 2013 and 2019

With those numbers, no wonder Canada’s overall business IP traffic rose by 18 per cent last year and will grow two-fold by 2018.

These mindboggling stats for IP traffic made me think about what happens when there’s a huge increase in road traffic (you know, cars and other vehicles). Despite gridlock, drivers still find ways to get where they need to go. As Cisco’s Shruti Jain and Arielle Sumits told us in an interview, network administrators can also make strategic moves to cope with ever-increasing IP traffic.

Get smart: Just as drivers can use GPS-based apps to get real-time traffic data, network admins can use network intelligence tools to track the source of IP bottlenecks. “It’s usually a small number of applications and users (causing) the bulk of the network load,” said Sumits, Cisco’s principal VNI forecast analyst.

Find alternatives: Commuters wary of driving in heavy traffic can choose alternatives: carpools, biking, public transit, etc. Network admins have alternatives, too. “One thing they can do is implement some content delivery networks … so (access is) as close to the end users as possible and long-haul lines don’t need to be upgraded,” said Sumits. Added Jain: “They can introduce higher implementation of Wi-Fi … and adopt more cloud services to have network services on-demand versus making bigger investments in maintaining their own network.”

Drive safely: With driving and data alike, it’s about safety, not just speed. “As more and more applications and business critical data (hit) the networks and expand in the near future, making sure those networks are secure and having the capacity for traffic optimization… will ultimately be very important,” said Jain. And keep an eye on BYOD, said Sumits: “People want to bring in their (own) devices in an office context and dealing with (mobile) security is always a challenge.”


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