Today, everything around us is moving to the Cloud: it has become the nerve center of almost every leading tech enterprise’s strategy. Companies have been riding high on the Cloud’s scalability, abundant storage, and virtualized infrastructure to manage their big data.

Based on Gartner’s prediction of 26 billion connected units by 2020, the Internet of Things will apply major stresses to the current internet and data center infrastructure. This will likely include immense strain on organizational bandwidth and network availability, with the possibly of data failures and delays in time-sensitive data.

How can all this bandwidth and connectivity be successfully managed? A hybrid decentralized cloud model that analyzes time-sensitive data at the network edge, acting and responding in milliseconds and only pushing relevant data to the cloud for storage and analysis. In other words, “fog” computing.

What exactly is fog computing.

The “fog” is essentially a complement to the Cloud. It is located “closer to the ground” in end systems, machines, sensors and actuators. It is a highly-virtualized secure system that operates in real time. These edge computers provide networking and storage between end-points and clouds. It is the same principle that is applied to Cloud computing though decentralized to easy bottlenecks in local processing.

The Fog vision was originally conceived to address applications and services that do not fit into the Cloud paradigm well. These include:

  1. Low-latency applications – gaming, video conferencing
  2. Geo-distributed applications – pipeline monitoring, sensor networks to monitor the environment
  3. Fast mobile applications – smart connected vehicle, connected rail
  4. Large-scale distributed control systems – smart grid, connected rail, smart traffic light systems

Putting fog computing to use

Fog computing has many benefits: here are some examples of how you can take advantage of them:

  • Augmented Reality & Real-time Video Analytics:  As humans we are highly sensitive to delays in display interactions that can ruin our user experience. This is where Fog computing shines. It is extremely useful for tasks such as object recognition, object tracking and data mining.
  • developersBusiness Agility:  With the right set of tools, enable your developers to quickly develop fog applications and deploy them where needed. For example, machine manufacturers can offer MaaS to their customers.  Fog applications program the machine to operate according to customer needs.
  • Security: Protect your fog nodes using the same policy, controls, and procedures you use in other parts of your IT environment. Use the same physical security and cyber security solutions.
  • Deeper insights and Privacy Control:  Analyse sensitive data locally instead of sending it to the cloud. The IT team can monitor and control the devices that collect, analyse, and store data.
  • Expense:  Conserve network bandwidth by analysing and processing selected data locally instead of sending it to the cloud.

Looking Ahead

We are heading towards fascinating digitally-connected days ahead. Despite several attempts at augmenting IoT applications with the Cloud, there are still unresolved problems that demand a radically different approach. Fog computing’s decentralized paradigm is well aligned with the flexibility and agility that characterizes the more prevalent data management trends and applications today.

Moving forward, cloud enterprise computing will no doubt remain necessary and popular, but I think the real transformative computing of the future is going to happen right here, in the devices that surround us—in the fog. Please let me know what you think.

Nanditha Vijayaraghavan

Nanditha Vijayaraghavan

Nanditha holds a Masters in Business Administration from Warwick Business School, UK and is currently working with Cognizant's Technology Vertical focused on... Read more

  • Sanchit Korgaonkar

    Nice Article.. I have one question. How fog computing is different than hybrid cloud?

    • Nanditha Vijayaraghavan

      Thanks Sanchit. Fog or edge computing (as some call it) is infact a “decentralized” hybrid cloud model. However, the real difference is that fog is being positioned as the layer that reduces the latency in hybrid cloud scenarios. Fog computing possesses all key traits and capabilities of the cloud within the edge location, while still making use of the cloud for heavy lifting purposes. To make it easier, it can be expressed as something similar to what hybrid cloud is to enterprise IT.

      • Sanchit Korgaonkar

        Thanks Nanditha for answer. Quite insightful.