According to Ada Gavrilovska, associate professor at the College of Computing and the Center for Experimental Research in Computer Systems at Georgia Tech, www.gatech.edu, the value of cloud computing is undeniable, and it has had transformative impact on every aspect of our lives, especially in the last decade. In fact, Gartner’s, www.gartner.com, research suggests that across all industries, companies spend an average of 20.4% of their IT budgets on cloud. However, due to physics or economics or both, along with cloud computing comes bottlenecks. For some IoT solutions, bottlenecks and even small amounts of latency are a big deal.And while the cloud will continue to provide the computational resource required for big data frameworks that build sophisticated models and turn data into actionable information, Gavrilovska believes the problems inherent in the cloud architecture can only be solved with adoption of fog computing technologies.
For the sake of this discussion, imagine if all the processing power noted in the cloud was pushed back to a local centralized end device or computer to manage a particular service or event. This allows for each computer to manage its own IoT data processing. When moving the power computing down to ground this is referred to a fog.
Similar to the first part of this definition, the close-to-the-ground part, fog computing refers to embedding computing infrastructure near the end devices, along the edges of a network. The edge is finite in capacity, its reach is localized, and its view into the data is myopic. “If cloud is about aggregation and consolidation, then fog or edge computing is about distribution and dispersal of computing,” Gavrilovska explains.
Analysts are also predicting significant fog computing growth in the future. For example, Grand View Research, www.grandviewresearch.com, says fog computing will grow 61.3% through 2025. The software segment is expected to see the fastest growth, while the routers and switches segment is expected to account for more than 30% by 2025. A number of industries will benefit from the growth of fog computing including smart manufacturing, smart grids, and healthcare, to name a few, according to the research.
Conversely, is the edge all it’s cracked up to be? Converging trends may have made fog computing more attractive than ever, but there are clear limitations at the edge. When it comes to building solutions, the question of cloud or fog computing may have architects scratching their heads. But is it really a matter of one or the other, or is cloud the yin to edge’s yang? Perhaps the battle of fog and cloud isn’t really a battle after all. “Both (cloud and fog) provide absolutely essential ingredients for realizing connected world solutions,” Gavrilovska says. “Unlike the real fog, fog computing—or I prefer edge computing—doesn’t obstruct our view and our abilities to reach the clouds. It accelerates them.”