TedschadlerBy Ted Schadler

What's a zettabyte? It's the same amount of information found on 500 billion DVDs or 75 full-length movies for every human on the planet. And a half a zettabyte, a mere 250 billion DVDs' worth, is the number of bits that Cisco expects to fly around the Internet every year in 2012.

The networking giant has created aVisual Networking Index, a detailed measurement of annual business and consumers Internet traffic. In a recent conversation with Cisco senior analyst Arielle Sumits, we learned that Cisco has used this index and a lot of detailed data to calculate that the public and private Internet will carry 6 times the amount of traffic in 2012 as it does today.

The big driver of that torrent is, of course, video. By 2012, Internet video alone will be almost 400 times the size of the entire US backbone in 2000. Add downloadable HD video, Telepresence, and Internet traffic to the television, and the volume of bits is staggering, even higher than the P2P traffic.

Wow, that's a lot of bits. But what does it really mean? I think it means three things for Information & Knowledge Management professionals:

  • First, expect business video communications and collaboration to take off. Telepresence, HD video conferencing, and distance learning that support the needs of distributed teams will drive the adoption of business-led video. And in classic Tech Populist fashion, consumers masking as employees will drive the adoption of virtual worlds that facilitate business town meetings and employee-generated-content in a “YouTube for the enterprise” model (see the startup Veodia).
  • Second, plan on mastering new video skills. If you’re like most I&KM Pros, your background is in messaging and IT, not video. But to thrive in a video-rich future, you will have to tap into the lingo and toolset of video networking and production: employee-generated content, frames per second, video tagging and search, video gateways, H.264, H.323, and distributed streaming architectures.
  • Third, look for bandwidth price breaks as a free ride on the back of consumer demand. Most of the growth is in consumer, not business, traffic. And that means businesses will get a free ride on the backs of consumer demand. Telecommunications giants will provision their networks to meet global consumer demand, which is always a race to the price floor. That collective dark fiber will give businesses a bargaining chip on bandwidth pricing.

Disagree? Have other thoughts to share? Please post any comments below.