As organizations increasingly shift to cloud-based solutions, it should come as no surprise that the amount of cloud-related traffic running through data centres will also soar.

A new study by Cisco Systems Inc. tries to quantify some of what coming.

Global traffic from clouds will be the fastest growing component of data centre traffic, growing 4.5 times over the five year study period, according to the report, jumping from 1.2 zettabytes of annual traffic in 2012 to 5.3 ZB in 2017.

By comparison, combined data centre traffic worldwide will increase three times.

Not only that, next year will be the first where the majority of workloads shift to the cloud: 51 per cent of all workloads will be processed in the cloud versus 49 per cent in the traditional IT space.

By 2017, nearly two-thirds or 63 per cent of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers; 37 per cent will be processed by traditional data centers.

By comparison, last year 39 per cent of workloads were processed in the cloud, with 61 per cent being handled in a traditional data center.

Of the data centre traffic that will be cloud-related, 17 per cent will come from users accessing clouds for Web surfing, video streaming, collaborations as well as to connected devices (everything from water meters to vending machines).

About seven per cent of data centre traffic will be generated between data centers, the study says, primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates.

An additional 76 per cent of data center traffic will stay within the data center and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data in a virtualized environment.

The study predicts that through 2017, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (57 per cent compound annually), followed by Asia Pacific (43 per cent CAGR) and Central and Eastern Europe (36 per cent CAGR).

By volume, however, North America will generate the most cloud –related traffic. Last year North America generated 469 Exabytes of traffic, which will grow to 1.886 ZB by 2017. Asia Pacific will grow from 319 EB to 1.876 ZB.

The ratio of workloads to nonvirtualized cloud servers will grow from 6.5 in 2012 to 16.7 by 2017. Comparatively, the ratio of workloads to nonvirtualized traditional data center servers will grow from 1.7 in 2012 to 2.3 by 2017.