What is ‘fog computing’ and why should you know about it?

Forget the cloud, the newest trend in the industry is the fog.

That’s according to CeBIT, which will be putting the spotlight on ‘fog computing’ at its 2016 IT exhibition.

So what exactly is the fog? Well, fog computing – also known as ‘fogging’ – is an architecture that uses end-user clients or devices to carry out a substantial amount of storage, communication and management.

It can be perceived both in large cloud systems and big data structures, making reference to the growing difficulties in accessing information objectively.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) has greatly multiplied the kinds of applications that are getting their computing power from the ‘outer edges’ of the Internet. What used to be referred to as edge computing now goes by the name of fog computing,” explained CeBIT.

According to a recent Cisco survey, some 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020.

“For much of this data, the Cloud is the right partner. In view of the fact that many IoT devices are small, need to run on a tiny amount of electric power and perform only narrowly defined functions, they need a ‘big brother’ who can give them the right amount of computing power,” said CeBIT.

“This is a job which the cloud performs perfectly. But in the case where information is needed only locally and for just a short period of time, the situation becomes quite different: Data of this kind needs to be processed quickly, preferably onsite, without any need to store the data.”

This is where the fog comes in. It processes data de-centrally – on the edges of the network. Thanks to recent major improvements in computing power, tiny computers are now capable of carrying out highly complex calculations.

CeBIT suggests that one use for fog computing is in future car-to-car communication in emergencies. So if one vehicle slams on its breaks, other cars will be informed to prevent a collision. Sending all this data via the cloud to a data centre would be too time consuming and could be done with local computing power.

So the fog can be viewed as an additional virtualised layer between the data producer and the cloud.

“It represents a local decision-making and processing level which can relieve the pressure on other levels further downstream. This layer prepares data according to established rules, thus improving response times while reducing the broadband requirements for potential Cloud connections as well as the required storage capacity at data centres,” explained CeBIT.

Seeing as the Cloud High Performance Computing (HPC) market is estimated to grow from $4.37 billion in 2015 to $10.83 billion by 2020 (according to MarketsandMarkets) and 5.5 million IoT devices will be connected every day in 2016 (according to Gartner), it seem inevitable that fog computing will become a hot topic over the next few years.

CeBIT 2016, which runs from 14th to 18th March 2016 in Hannover, will feature several display categories illustrating how data centres can cope with these new challenges and highlighting the rapid evolution of cloud technology.

Image source: Shutterstock

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