What is Fog Computing?

The recent merge of two major tech consortiums brings to light a key component of IoT (Internet of Things) and its future: fog computing. The Industrial Internet of Things Consortium (IIC) and OpenFog Consortium (OFC) joining forces has critical implications for the future of the Internet of Things because it brings together Industrial IoT and Fog Computing. Matt Vasey, Chairman and President of the Open Fog Consortium, elaborated on the merger in a blog article: “The two organizations’ combined talents will enable us to capitalize on the undeniable momentum of the two largest and most influential international consortia in Industrial IoT, 5G, and AI computing.” This brings us closer to a world of truly connected things, from manufacturing to cars, by developing standards and infrastructure to make it a reality. By now, you have probably heard of “the cloud” and “the edge,” but an important aspect to IoT is fog computing.

Fog Computing

Fog computing is “system-level horizontal architecture that distributes computing, storage, and networking closer to users, and anywhere along the cloud-to-things continuum”, according to OpenFog Consortium. Essentially, this connects the cloud to things on the edge. Thus, this bridges the data processing in the cloud to devices that generate data, like cars, routers, or surveillance cameras. This makes “it ideal for internet of things (IoT) and other applications that require real-time interactions.” Here is a useful graphic that illustrates the fog and its key aspects:

 

How it Works

 

There are a variety of components of functions. Nonetheless, a fundamental element is a fog node. Fog nodes are “any device with computing, storage, and network connectivity.” These can be things like routers, switches, or industrial controllers. Fog nodes monitor and analyze real-time data, which can be used to initiate actions, whether it be machine-to-machine or human-machine interaction.

The Difference Between The Edge and The Fog

“In essence, fog is the standard, and edge is the concept.” This means that the fog “defines how edge computing should work,” by connecting cloud computing data centers to the edge devices. The fog directs appropriate data between the edge and the cloud efficiently and securely. The two are similar but not synonymous. 

Benefits

  • Lower latency network connections
  • Increased process efficiency
  • Filters where data is uploaded
  • Better security with privacy control
  • Greater business agility: quick development and deployment of applications
  • Deeper and faster insights
  • Lower operating expenses: conserved network bandwidth
  • Flexibility
  • Vendor agnostic options
  • More ability to DIY your network

Overall, the business-critical benefits of fog come from refining the concept of edge computing by directing the flow of data. “Ultimately, organizations that adopt fog computing gain deeper and faster insights, leading to increased business agility, higher service levels, and improved”. Many edge devices have limited processing and storage capabilities. Thus, the cloud is still necessary for detailed processing like analyzing historical data over long periods of time. Nonetheless, the current cloud infrastructure is unable to sustainably handle ever-increasing amounts of data that industries produce with growing products, services, and processes that depend on connectivity. The fog serves as a companion to the cloud and the edge.

Application

The major applications of fog computing directly involve IoT architecture and infrastructure, which thus have major implications for consumer goods like connected cars. Currently, “.” This demonstrates the huge impact that fog computing has not only for businesses, but making a difference in consumers’ daily lives.

The Future of Fog Computing

Specific hardware and solutions “can be the foundation of an emerging marketplace for fog, providing a commercial model similar to the iTunes App Store or Google Play, but with a focus on IoT and fog apps.” A short list of fog computing initiatives for 2019 sheds light on its direction. This includes “expanding testbed validation and certification programs,” as well as “identifying new areas of research,” and “producing more use cases of best-practices in real-world settings.” Such initiatives add credibility to the movement as well as providing more robust solutions and templates for adopting fog computing.

Fog computing is a key part of building the infrastructure to make the ideal for IoT, 5G, and AI a reality by refining the foundations for real-time information and interactions.