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.