Fog Computing – The Emerging Paradigm for IoT

By : |July 8, 2019 0

Fog Computing is an emerging network architecture for data transfer to distributed devices in an Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. Cloud computing operates through infrastructure set up on the internet through data centers whereas fog computing is carried out closer to the end users’ networks. When cloud computing descends, it becomes fog computing, so to speak. Loosely speaking, fog is cloud brought closer to the edge.

This characteristic of fog computing is the reason it offers a better quality of service from lower latency to lesser power consumption and reduced data traffic over the internet. Fog computing is, therefore, most suitable for applications that require low latency, location awareness and mobility. The fog nodes that form the core network components have sufficient processing capability and storage to run IoT applications on the edge in a distributed fashion.

The last decade has seen cloud computing taking a central role in enabling applications and services by providing on-demand computing, storage and network resources. However, as we enter the fourth industrial revolution and as the world transitions from “internet-of-people” to “internet-of-things”, fog computing becomes extremely relevant.

Cloud computing has limitations when it comes to service demanded by real-time applications that require instant responses and actions. For example, for autonomous cars, the technology should support location awareness, wireless connectivity, super-fast processing, very low latency and mobility. These criteria cannot be met using cloud computing given its requirement of computation deep within the internet.

Consider other examples like industrial automation or e-surveillance where there is extensive use of wireless sensors. These applications require low power, low bandwidth and location-aware nodes with good processing power distributed across the location. Such solutions are much better served using the new paradigm of fog computing rather than traditional cloud computing.

The data collected by sensors is sent to fog nodes for processing and storage – instead of sending them to the cloud – thereby reducing network traffic and latency. Fog computing, therefore, enhances efficiency, performance and reduces the amount of data transferred to the cloud. The integration of fog computing with IoT has given rise to new services called Fog-as-a-Service (FaaS). FaaS operators deploy a mesh of fog nodes that can perform local computation, networking and storage, and provide services to multiple enterprises across verticals.

FaaS enables enterprises to build new business models and deliver innovative services to their customers. Unlike clouds, which are mostly operated by large companies that operate massive data centers, FaaS enables companies big and small to deploy fog computing capabilities at different scales to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers.

Security is an important consideration while evaluating any new or emerging technologies. Fog computing solutions are intrinsically more secure than cloud computing. It is only logical that the longer the data is in transition between the source and the cloud, the higher the risk as it is vulnerable to attacks at intermediate points. If the data center comes under a denial of service (DOS) attack, then the entire cloud infrastructure could be impacted. In case of fog computing solutions, there is no such possibility as these are managed as dispersed and distributed infrastructure. Further, the data is transmitted in a few short hops between the end device and the fog node limiting the possibility of being hacked significantly.

In India too, businesses are increasingly adopting the use of this technology. Warehouses use IoT to secure their premises and check on pilferages. Fuel stations use sensors to gauge fuel quality and monitor consumption levels so that they can plan, estimate, order and maintain equipment. ATM premises use sensors to prevent burglary, unauthorized entry and for auto-locking of premises. Most of these use cases are spread across the remotest corners of the country often marred by sporadic network availability. Connectivity to the cloud forms the basis of implementing such solutions and fog computing enables these use cases to not only combine multiple resources (bandwidth in this case) but also use local computation for instant decision making without an immediate need to go all the way to the cloud.

It is increasingly evident that fog computing is the most relevant technology to address the complexities of the fast-evolving technology landscape driven by the Internet-of-Things. Traditional cloud computing systems fall short on several fronts and therefore will have to concede and make way for fog computing for such applications. A number of technology firms are making significant strides in developing cutting-edge applications and solutions leveraging fog computing. Cloud computing will continue to be relevant for solutions that are not highly delay sensitive and for business requirements that need tremendous computing power to process vast amounts of data.

In conclusion, cloud and fog computing have their respective roles and will address the specific needs and requirements of enterprises and end customers. Both will co-exist and collaborate to deliver a host of new services enabled by emerging technologies.

By Kaushik Pillalamarri, CEO and Co-Founder, Smartiply

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