Cisco: Video is the Killer App

Cisco has released its Visual Networking Index and it has some interesting data about video and the Internet. For example, video accounted for 40% of all the consumer data traffic on the Internet in 2010, and is forecast to reach 50% in 2012. When you consider all the emails, all the music downloads, and all the peer-to-peer data transfers (which includes a lot of pirated video), this is a mighty impressive milestone.

Once you get past that key piece of information, you rapidly get into some of the blow-your-mind data points. For example, a million minutes of video will cross the Internet every second by 2015. It would take more than five years to watch that second’s worth of content. High-definition video on the Internet is growing and will pass standard definition by the end of this year. By 2015, HD content will make up more than three quarters of the Internet video-on-demand (VoD). By that time, Internet VoD traffic will be the equivalent of three billion DVDs a month.

All of this is good news for Cisco, which is one of the leading companies in making the hardware that makes the Internet possible. The company forecasts that by 2015, there will be two Internet-connected devices for every man, woman, and child in the entire world. The annual global IP traffic of all data combined is forecast to hit nearly a zettabyte by the end of 2015. (I had to look up zettabyte; it’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Can you imagine a trillion 1GB hard drives full of data? I can’t.)

So Internet video is growing rapidly: tripling in 2010 and increasing 17 times more by 2015. Could it be the application that kills the Internet? I’ve lived through too many doomsday scenarios with the Internet to bet against it at this point. When there’s demand, the networking industry finds ways to meet it. My guess is that the data pipes are just going to get bigger and faster, and we’ll find all sorts of new ways to enjoy instant access to unimaginable amounts of data whenever and wherever we want. I’m looking forward to it.

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