Fog computing is a type of network architecture (i.e., how the systems are connected within a network and to the Internet) that links cloud computing (storage of data and programs over the Internet) to the Internet of Things (IoT). It allows data transmitted between IoT devices and cloud services to be processed faster because it brings them closer to one another. At the same time, it also determines which information is stored in the cloud and local hosts (i.e., the computers or servers within a network).

Fog computing puts resources like applications and data strategically in the network edge or closer to the cloud. As such, it limits bandwidth use, lowers latency, and promotes optimal network performance as the data does not have to be transferred or moved long distances to reach its intended destination.

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How Fog Computing Works

Sensors in IoT devices have no computing resources to process, store, and analyze data. The cloud has them, but since it’s not located close to the devices, it can’t be used to do what’s required in a timely fashion.

Fog computing puts one and one together. Data parsing and analysis occurs in a smart hub, gateway, or router, thus limiting the amount of information that needs to be sent to the cloud for processing. Data that needs to be processed at once are analyzed at the gateway (i.e., within the network), while the rest are filtered then sent directly to the cloud. Note that fog computing is not a replacement for cloud computing; it only enhances the latter.

Fog Computing Applications

Fog computing has many real-world applications, especially now that IoT is being adopted not only by companies but also by public institutions. Here are some of the examples:

  • Smart/Connected car manufacturers: Fog computing can aid in the real-time transmission of data (including driving conditions, traffic situation, and directions) from the cloud to the connected vehicles. Better connectivity can reduce accidents and promote safe driving. It also allows information to be quickly transported back to manufacturers for usage monitoring.
  • Industrial IoT (IIoT): Manufacturing plants can rely on fog computing to obtain and process large sums of data in-house instead of in the cloud. Doing that promises higher data accuracy while decreasing the amount of data packets (i.e., units of data) that need to be transported back and forth.
  • Smart cities and grids: For utilities and systems to run smoothly and effectively in smart cities, real-time, accurate data is essential. With fog computing, data from sensors travels faster. As such, any issues that may arise can be quickly addressed.

What Are the Advantages of Fog Computing?

Now that you have an idea of what fog computing is and its applications let’s explore its benefits.

Better control of privacy 

Fog computing provides users more control over their privacy. It allows them to process and assess the sensitivity of data locally. That makes it easier for their IT teams to keep track of and control data collection.

Enhanced data security 

Fog computing allows organizations to connect several devices to a network instead of putting them all in one central location. That way, data remains safe and secure from malicious actors since the IT team can quickly determine threats and contain them locally.

Improved business agility 

Fog computing is critical in enhancing productivity and increasing agility, which can help decrease workloads while achieving optimal results.

What Is the Difference between Fog Computing and Cloud Computing?

Cloud and fog computing are highly similar, but they still have notable differences based on the following parameters:

  • Architecture: Compared with centralized cloud-based data centers, which can be miles away from a client’s systems, fog computing’s architecture is highly distributed and often located as close as possible to a client’s devices.
  • Processing: Since cloud computing architectures can be located remotely, data processing is also done from a distance. In fog computing, the process stays close to the source of information, allowing more control over data.
  • Storage: Cloud computing offers higher storage capacities and more powerful computing capabilities.
  • Responsiveness: Fog computing allows short-term analysis because of the shorter distance between servers and devices. On the other hand, cloud computing is better for long-term and more in-depth analysis because the devices can be slow in responding.
  • Security: Fog computing is more secure than cloud computing because of the distributed nature of its architecture.

Did You Know That…

Cisco first coined the term “fog computing” to refer to “expanding cloud computing to the edge.” And so, it is also known as “edge computing.” In November 2015, the OpenFog Consortium was formed to promote the use of fog computing in various fields. Its founding members include ARM, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Princeton University, GE, Hitachi, and Foxconn, among others.