The rise of cloud computing is thought of as one of the key reasons for the newfound momentum in IoT and Big data. Although M2M wasn’t a new concept at all and has been there for over a decade now, it is only recently that organizations started tapping into the insights derived from huge chunks of data generated via devices and sensors. The present infrastructure was not ready to handle the scale demanded by IoT devices ecosystem. That’s what made cloud a highly resourceful tool for businesses in this scenario.
Being an affordable storage system with sufficient computing power, cloud easily rose to become the favourite of enterprises around the globe. Cloud computing contributed heavily towards the increased use of big data analytics platforms. Nowadays, organizations are fetching every bit of information they can find from several different sources and pushing it to the cloud where the storing, processing and analysis of this data happens, bringing out deep insights. This great combination of big data and computing has been the biggest driver of the Internet of Things. Now, with the back of cloud computing and big data, IoT is all set to achieve new heights.
The new buzzword, however is not cloud, but fog computing. Don’t panic, it’s not related to the weather, just like cloud computing isn’t. It’s the newest addition to data storage and access mechanisms after cloud.
Anyone with a slow internet connection can tell you what’s wrong with cloud computing- the bandwidth. The Internet of Things is expanding as more devices turn smart and start communicating with each other, from here, the problems associated with cloud is only going to get worse.
Despite the immense power and potential, the model of cloud computing cannot be applied to environments where internet connectivity is bad and operations are time-critical. This is extremely crucial in scenarios such as patient care and telemedicine, where a fraction of a second can have lethal consequences. You could say the same about connected vehicles, where accidents can happen even with a small amount of latency in the communication with the cloud server. This can be explained easily by comparing it with a scenario where your brain is trying to command your hands from miles far away – this simply won’t help in places where quick actions are necessary.
Fog computing solves this latency problem prevalent with cloud computing by keeping the data as close to the ground as possible rather than sending it back and forth through a central cloud server, hence the name- Fog Computing.
Today, we live amongst smart devices that can do powerful computation and talk to each other wirelessly. We use smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart watches and what not. Imagine a scenario where your laptop would download software updates for all the smart devices that you own and share it with them rather than each of the device hogging on the precious bandwidth. All the computing power around us could be utilized for internal communications, thus keeping the network snappier.
Data is not the real issue, we already have more of it than we can utilize to the full extent and more of it is getting added each day. Storage and access of this data is a becoming a bigger problem than we’ve imagined. This is exactly where fog computing becomes invaluable- it makes it possible to process and access the data more efficiently and rapidly by choosing the best location possible, thus eradicating latency.
The term ‘fog computing’ was coined by Cisco Systems, but IBM likes to call it edge computing. Both the companies are working on pushing computing back to the edge of the networks, to the gadgets, sensors and routers, filling the atmosphere with a fog of computing power that can deal with most of our data requests on their own.
Businesses that rely on storing their data on the cloud, in someone else’s servers would find this new trend to be for the better. With the amount of data that gets created every minute, fog computing seems to be a wiser solution for the long term.
Fog computing can definitely reduce the amount of data to be sent to the cloud to be processed. But rather than replacing cloud, it is likely to complement the cloud with its quick reflex abilities. Cloud computing will still play a prominent role in the IoT ecosystem along with the fog. It can make the cloud better by taking a part of the burden away from what cloud servers currently have to handle alone now. With this new help, cloud will be freed to take care of the heavier tasks, like analysing the large sets of historical data.
The insights derived from analysing these data sets can be used to update policies and features in the fog layer. Obviously, there are many scenarios where the high computing power of cloud will be necessary. Environments where the data has to be analysed from several sources far apart is one among them. A combination of cloud computing and fog is what the enterprises truly need for the rapid adoption of IoT.