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Fog computing: maximizing the use of IoT

Fog computing broadens the horizons of cloud utilization up to interaction with a network, which is an excellent option for various devices and apps, for example, IoT, that require real-time operation.

Fog computing is the notion of network surface, which extends from the external space where the information is formed to the storage locations that can be cloud or clients’ data storage centers.

Fog is the extra level of shared network space and is tightly related to cloud technology and the IoT. The companies handling IaaS cloud solutions can be considered as the worldwide high-grade edge of the network where the information from the Internet of Things digital devices is collected.

In other words, technology is the conception of a shared network comprising these two elements. According to Mung Chiang, dean of Purdue University’s College of Engineering, fog computing is the element, connecting the data in the cloud with that formed at the binding.

Another group of experts and vendors called OpenFog Consortium believe that fog computing is a sort of multi-stage infrastructure that transfers the information and services related to development, management, storage, and network functioning all over the space stretching from the devices to the cloud.

Advantages of fog technology

Essentially, the progress of fog computing structures allows companies getting more opportunities to analyze information in the most required spots. For example, some pieces of data may need to be processed faster than others, like in the industrial processes, when the critical technical parameters should be reported immediately to keep quality level stable.

Fog technology can establish a connection between the cloud and the IoT with the minimum retention time. The use of fog solutions helps to decrease focus on bandwidth or even to replace it in a case when bandwidth is not available at the moment, and the information has to be delivered not far from the place of its generation. Simultaneously, fog tech provides the users with a range of security benefits as the information protection solutions can be moved to fog architecture, for instance, distributed network data flows and the security systems that ensure information safety.

Fog-based apps

Fog technology is just at its early stage of being adopted in the full-scale projects. However, the experts and vendors have already come up with some promising conceptions.

  • Self-driving automobiles. Recently released concepts of self-steering cars with partial or no human control involvement can’t be transformed into real vehicles on our roads without making them able to perceive, analyze and reflect within huge amounts of various data in digital format. Like a human driver, the autonomic car has to identify objects on its way, react to traffic signs, choose optimal speed as well as include many other factors. Likewise, the self-driving automobile has to collect and report the data on its internal processes parameters, like engine performance and fuel consumption rate, so the manufacturer or technical maintenance company can detect the root of error and fix it. In this case, fog technology can connect the source of data forming, which is a car, with the cloud, controlled by a producer.
  • Smart systems in cities. Due to overpopulation and critical number of personal cars in many cities the local governments come up with the opinion that the only solution can help to optimize urban environment is digitization and creating a complex system comprising all elements of everyday life, for example, public transportation, road infrastructure, payment systems etc., where each element will generate and share data with others. Establishing smart networks leads to increasing amounts of information gathered by a thousand of cameras, sensors, digital devices, processed and delivered to the other links of the system. Fog computing infrastructure enhances high-speed communication between the edge and endpoints of data migration space.
  • Real-time data processing. Immediate information analysis has become an integral part of modern industrial processes. In the range of industries, the real-time process parameters responding and analyzing allow keeping the quality and safety level within acceptable limits, therefore fog technology is a suitable solution for the enterprises as the created data can move from a place of generation to various spots by choosing the shortest route.

Role of fog in 5G technology

These days many IT experts believe that the forecasted deployment of 5G mobile technology will attract more fog solutions to be adopted. The thing is 5G requires increasing the numbers of mobile communication antennas to be installed all over the connected territory. It is predicted that the antennas will be installed not more than 20 km from each other, therefore to combine data from all antenna’ receivers, the special architecture is needed. Fog computing is considered to be the best candidate for managing a 5G network and securing data migration from the device to the cloud.

Fog functioning core principle

Fog technology provides us with an exhaustive list of elements and possibilities. It may comprise special fog gateways that perceive collected information from digital devices. It can also consist of a wide range of connection points, wired or wireless, for example, reinforced routing equipment or switchers. Besides, another feature of fog computing may include customer-premises devices or channels for contacting edge points. At the higher architecture levels, fog computation will be supplemented with central network systems and powerful cloud-based servers.

The experts from OpenFog Consortium that is focused on fog infrastructures creation determine three key objectives that should be followed during fog solutions development. First of all, fog space has to be extensible in a horizontal orientation, so it will enable users to maintain numerous vertical applications. Secondly, it has to be able to transfer data from the edge nodes of its generation to the endpoints of the cloud. Finally, fog computing should combine different types of systems on multiple levels, from the devices, through the network architectures to the cloud.

When saying “fog tech” and “edge tech,” do we mean the same?

Although sometimes the critical difference between these two notions is not recognized, according to Cisco representative, Helder Antunes, edge computing is a smaller part, included by fog computing. Fog technology means the whole distance from the place where the data is generated to where it is stored. In turn, edge more refers to processing information close to the generation spot. Therefore, in addition to the edge, fog computing comprises also network infrastructure, which is used for data migration from the edge to the final spot.

Successful cases of fog computing adoption

Although fog tech is something that has recently became known in IT, the fog-based projects are already not as rare as you may imagine.

Due to fog’s huge potential, the alternative energy generation enterprise Envision, located in New York, succeeded in increasing its wind power productiveness by about 15 percent via wind turbines operational optimization.

To be more specific, the company’s 20 thousand wind turbines report about 20 terabytes of information at once through 3 million sensor devices. Thus, fog computation allowed decreasing the data processing time delays up to a few seconds that resulted in highly improved industrial output.

Another representative of successful fog computation involvement is the IT vendor Plat One, specialized in analyzing huge volumes of real-time data, collected using sensors in various industries, from transportation to public services and food sector.

The fog tech is starting to be of use for better organizing cities to make urban infrastructure more convenient for anyone living there. For example, Palo Alto, California, is going to spend about $3 million for designing the interconnection systems of traffic lights and automobiles, so it will be possible to regulate time intervals of vehicles being stopped or permitted to move depending on the traffic situation.

Furthermore, fog computation is expected to gain its broadest application in the automotive industry as humanity has been aspiring for a long time to get self-driving vehicles. Now the chances to see the autonomously steered cars on the roads are high as never before due to the fantastic advantages of fog tech, including high-speed data processing and interaction.

Fog computation will also help to decrease the amount of video data, recorded and stored when monitoring traffic. With the help of the fog tech, all videos can be reviewed in real-time, and those pieces that can be of use will be sent to the cloud.

Prospects of fog computing

The current situation makes us expect that fog technology utilization will keep gaining momentum as the Internet of Things is becoming more widespread. Therefore it requires new areas and opportunities to be fed with. As soon as cheap, resource-saving data analysis and storage are more affordable with fog, the experts predict that digital information computation will approach the edge and will be more integrated by the devices that generate it, establishing more advanced possibilities for interconnectivity and data sharing among the IoT. The single-function data loggers may be discarded due to such dynamic fog computing progress.

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