In year 2014, we wrote about Fog Computing – a new concept in data management and is sibling of cloud computing but is different as its more dense in terms of geographical distribution and supports mobility.
Going forward, not many knows that Internet of Things (IoT) is closely related to cloud & fog computing as one of the vital reasons for the IoT topping the popularity charts, is the humongous growth of cloud services. While the M2M concept has been round the block for quite some time now, companies could never really make optimum use of these sensors and devices generated insights from the data-sets. The main reason for this inefficiency was, that the existing infrastructure wasn’t developed enough to fulfill the needs of the connected devices architecture. This is where the cloud came in as a saviour and ended up becoming a priced possession of several enterprises.
The clouds’ ample computing power and abundant storage has made the deal all the more lucrative for enterprises and transformed it into an affordable extension to the enterprise data center.
The increased popularity of the cloud has also resulted in the skyrocketing usage of Big Data platforms and analytics. Organisations are not leaving behind any chance to channelize every small bit of data being generated from a wide variety of devices and sources to the cloud, where it is then stored, processed, and later analayzed with precision to extract useful insights.
According to industry experts, this blockbuster combination of Big Data and cloud is the biggest enabler of Internet of Things. Further, they believe with this blockbuster combination at its hand, IoT is all ready to become a magnificent use case for distributed computing and analytics.
For the people who are a little behind on their cloud knowledge, Cloud service providers such as Oracle, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce are currently offering managed IoT platforms delivering the entire IoT stack as a service. Customers are provided with the luxury of ingesting data, on-boarding devices, defining data processing pipelines that analyses streams in real-time and extract rich insights from the data received by sensor. IoT platforms based on cloud are examples of verticalized PaaS (Product-as-a-Services) offerings, which are specially conceived and designed to fulfil specific user needs.
While cloud has proved to be a perfect fit for IoT, unfortunately, not every Internet of Things scenario can make use of it. Several industrial IoT solutions require immediate processing of data and low latency ingestion. This demand for distributing the Internet of Things workloads faster between the cloud and local data center has given birth to an altogether new and different architectural pattern named Fog computing. Big companies working with industrial automation need to deploy specifically designed infrastructure within the data center. This infrastructure being deployed by them is usually a cluster of storage, compute and networking resources delivering horsepower that is powerful enough to cope up with the IoT data locally. The cluster that lives on the edge is officially called as the Fog layer.
For people still trying to comprehend the difference between the cloud and the fog, here’s a simple answer. Fog computing basically imitates all the 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 hybrd cloud is to enterprise IT. Both of the architectures provides the user with the best of both universes.
Cisco, which has also coined the term, is one of the early entrant in the Fog computing market. The company has positioned Fog as the layer that reduces the latency in hybrid cloud scenarios.
Further, seeing the huge potential that Fog holds, some of the leading vendors in the infrastructure and cloud sector joined hands to form an Industry body, the OpenFog Consortium. The official website of the industry body reads, that the mission of the consortium is to drive industry and academic leadership in fog computing architecture, testbed development, and a variety of interoperability and composability deliverables that seamlessly leverage cloud and edge architectures to enable end-to-end IoT scenarios. In order to realise its this mission, the consortium has strategically decided to invest in reference architectures, samples, developer guides, and SDKs, as this will provide them an opportunity to convey the true value of Fog computing to IT teams and developers.