Researchers at Cisco have predicted that the vast majority of data centre work will go into fuelling the cloud by 2021.

The Global Cloud Index report looks at the way in which cloud services have grown to dominate both consumer and business applications.

These huge demand levels and their expected continual rise means that nearly all data centre operations are forecast to be dedicated to cloud computing by 2021.

People streaming video, using social media and browsing the internet are the main consumer uses cited by the study. In business, researchers found that enterprise resource planning, collaboration and analytics were the main cloud-based growth areas.

Cloud computing tasks represented 88% of data centre traffic in 2016, according to the report. This will rise to 95% by 2021, and the total level of traffic will be significantly higher as the number of cloud applications grows.

Global data centre traffic is expected to reach 19.5 zettabytes by 2021, compared to 6 zettabytes in 2016 – a compound annual growth rate of 27%.

Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s Cloud Platform and Solutions Group, commented: “Data centre application growth is clearly exploding in this new multicloud world. This projected growth will require new innovations especially in the areas of public, private and hybrid clouds.”

This growth is attributed to improvements in cloud security, which previously has held back a lot of adoption. Enterprise risk has been reduced as a result of better data centre governance and data control. The study argues that thanks to these security improvements, businesses are more able to recognise the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability and economies of scale.

IoT applications also create significant levels of traffic, and as use cases like connected cars, health services and entire smart cities become more common, this is expected to rise. Cisco anticipates 13.7 billion IoT connections worldwide; approximately five billion more connections than the projected world population at that point.

As a result of these developments, the report predicts that by 2021, there will be 628 hyperscale data centres around the world, compared to 338 existing facilities of this kind in 2016. It also anticipates that these hyperscale sites will support more than half (55%) of all data centre traffic worldwide.