IDG Contributor Network: Be careful what you call ‘fog computing’


Fog computing is picking up steam as a buzzword in the tech world, often used in comparison to cloud or confused with edge, both of which have geography built in: either the computer is at the edge, or the computer is in the cloud. The easiest way to understand what is unique about fog is that it is location agnostic. The computers in a fog infrastructure can be anywhere: from edge to cloud and anywhere in between.

In fog, you program against what a service does, not where it is. So the same service that was deployed to cloud today can be deployed at the edge tomorrow. Think of it as a framework that supports a vast ecosystem of resources. It enables the flexible consumption of computing resources that span a continuum from on-premises, to nearby, to cloud—with each used for the benefits it may provide like speed, availability, bandwidth, scalability, and cost.  

Fog enables us to look differently at the spare computing power that surrounds us in our daily lives and opens up opportunities to put all computing power to use, regardless of location. As fog’s star continues to rise, people are using the term fog computing to market a variety of products, so if you are truly interested in the benefits it can provide, make sure it meets these two main criteria:

1. Provides a spectrum of computing power that spans a continuum of onsite to cloud

In current cloud-centric computing infrastructures, much of the processing power used is located in the far cloud. But with the number of connected devices skyrocketing and set to reach , the quantity of data travelling that distance is increasing dramatically

.  As a result, the terms “edge” and “fog” are often used synonymously, despite edge computing being just one aspect of the more comprehensive fog computing infrastructure.

While edge computing is an effective way to reduce latency and bandwidth strain for high-traffic tech like IoT, the services running at any point in a given business or home have varying needs for performance, scalability, uptime and cost that a single “edge node” cannot address.

An effective fog computing infrastructure should be geographically diverse enough to enable edge-appropriate computing to be done at the edge, cloud-appropriate computing to be done in the cloud, and ideally a spectrum of resources in between for flexibility and resiliency.