What is Fog computing?
Fog Computing is a paradigm that extends Cloud computing and services to the edge of the network. Similar to Cloud, Fog provides data, computational power, storage, and application services of all kind to end-users. What distinguishes the Fog from the Cloud is its proximity to end-users, dense geographical distribution and its support for mobility.
Although Fog is still a concept of Cisco, there is pretty much detail already of what it should look like. Researchers around the world, along with Cisco are currently proposing and developing the future standards Fog will rely on.
In the Fog [get used to it – we are moving from ‘in the cloud’ to ‘in the fog’] all services are hosted on the network edge. This literally means, for example, that you will no longer have to get through couple of hops to ‘talk’ to your TV set-top-box, it will provide you with direct access to its services. Access points will no longer have to go through border routers and core networks to serve data – they will be autonomous.
By pushing Fog on the stage, services latency will seriously decrease. If you remember yesterday’s article on 5G – this is pretty much part of it. All present technologies are taking a turn to adopt the Internet of Things and make sure that it is distinguished as a separate layer, than just another source of data [as it is currently].
It is a rational development of the situation, though – as cloud services surfaced to serve the growing demand of SaaS and mobile apps, now it is time for Fog to extend this to the Internet of Things. By pushing latency to that [historical] limit, industrial automation, transportation, networks of sensors and actuators will flourish. Real-time and predictable systems will have also great benefit of Fog.
Thanks to the future wide geographical distribution of the Fog paradigm, the time of real time big data and real time analytics will come. Fog will reportedly support densely distributed data collection points, hence adding a fourth axis to the often mentioned Big Data dimensions (volume, variety, and velocity).
Unlike traditional data centers, Fog devices [think of them as what we currently call cloud instances] will be geographically distributed over heterogeneous platforms, spanning multiple management domains. Still things like facilitating service mobility across platforms, and technologies that preserve end-user and content security and privacy across domains are about to surface, but it is only a matter of time for Fog to take over.
Tech giants like Cisco and IBM are the ruling the forces that will make fog computing possible and they design it explicitly with the Internet of Things in mind. Today, there might be hundreds of connected devices in an office or data center, but in just a few years that number could explode to thousands or tens of thousands, all connected and communicating with each other.
The fact that everything from cars to thermostats are gaining web intelligence means that direct user-end computing and communication will soon be more important than ever. For example:
• Smart cities: Fog computing will ease obtaining sensor data on all levels of the activities of cities, and integrate all the mutually independent network entities within.
• Smart grids: Fog will allow rapid machine-to-machine (M2M) handshakes and human to machine interactions (HMI). Cloud will be used only for storing the data, rather than processing it.
• Connected cars: Fog is great solution for connected cars, because real-time interactions will make communications between cars, access points and traffic lights easier, safer and more efficient.
If we take a closer look at the concept, it shows that it is about taking decisions as close to the data [they depend on] as possible. Hadoop and other big data solutions have started the trend to bring processing close to the data’s location. Fog computing will certainly do the same but on a larger scale. Decisions will be taken [read: processing] as close to where the data is generated and they will rarely reach the cloud. Only valuable data will go to the cloud, for the sake of preserving it.
There are economical advantages to using fog computing. All that is needed is a simple solution (or multiple solutions) to train models and send them to highly optimized and low resource intensive execution engines that can be easily embedded in devices, mobile phones and smart hubs/gateways.
Exciting days are ahead and the we are about to observe yet another layer to surface on the Internet. This will be the layer of the Internet of Things or simply – the Fog.