Fog Computing Definition, Architecture, Market and Use Cases

Introduction to Fog Computing, Architecture and Networks:

Fog computing is an extension of cloud computing which deploys data storage, computing and communications resources, control and management data analytics closer to the endpoints.  It is especially important for the Internet of Things (IoT) continuum, where low latency and low cost are needed.

Fog computing architecture is the arrangement of physical and logical network elements, hardware, and software to implement a useful IoT network. Key architectural decisions involve the physical and geographical positioning of fog nodes, their arrangement in a hierarchy, the numbers, types, topology, protocols, and data bandwidth capacities of the links between fog nodes, things, and the cloud, the hartware and software design of individual fog nodes, and how a complete IoT network is orchestrated and managed. In order to optimize the architecture of a fog network, one must first understand the critical requirements of the general use cases that will take advantage of fog and specific software application(s) that will run on them. Then these requirements must be mapped onto a partitioned network of appropriately designed fog nodes. Certain clusters of requirements are difficult to implement on networks built with heavy reliance on the cloud (intelligence at the top) or intelligent things (intelligence at the bottom), and are particularly influential in the decision to move to fog-based architectures.

From a systematic perspective, fog networks provide a distributed computing system with a hierarchical topology. Fog networks aim at meeting stringent latency requirements, reducing power consumption of end devices, providing real-time data processing and control with localized computing resources, and decreasing the burden of backhaul traffic to centralized data centers.  And of course, excellent network security, reliability and availability must be inherent in fog networks.

Figure 1

Fog computing network architecture

Illustration courtesy of August 2017 IEEE Communications Magazine article: “Architectural Imperatives for Fog Computing: Use Cases, Requirements, and Architectural Techniques for Fog-Enabled IoT Networks”  (IEEE Xplore or IEEE Communications magazine subscription required to view on line)

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Fog Computing Market:

The fog computing market opportunity will exceed $18 billion worldwide by the year 2022, according to a new report by 451 Research. Commissioned by the OpenFog Consortium, the Size and Impact of Fog Computing Market projects that the largest markets for fog computing will be, in order, energy/utilities, transportation, healthcare and the industrial sectors.

“Through our extensive research, it’s clear that fog computing is on a growth trajectory to play a crucial role in IoT, 5G and other advanced distributed and connected systems,” said Christian Renaud, research director, Internet of Things, 451 Research, and lead author of the report. “It’s not only a technology path to ensure the optimal performance of the cloud-to-things continuum, but it’s also the fuel that will drive new business value.”

Key findings from the report were presented during an opening keynote on October 30th at the Fog World Congress conference. In addition to projecting an $18 billion fog market and identifying the top industry-specific market opportunities, the report also identified:

  • Key market transitions fueling the growth include investments in energy infrastructure modernization, demographic shifts and regulatory mandates in transportation and healthcare.
  • Hardware will have the largest percentage of overall fog revenue (51.6%), followed by fog applications (19.9%) and then services (15.7%).  By 2022, spend will shift to apps and services, as fog functionality is incorporated into existing hardware.
  • Cloud spend is expected to increase 147% to $6.4 billion by 2022.

“This is a seminal moment that not only validates the magnitude of fog, but also provides us with a first-row seat to the opportunities ahead,” said Helder Antunes, chairman of the OpenFog Consortium and Senior Director, Cisco. “Within the OpenFog community, we’ve understood the significance of fog—but with its growth rate of nearly 500 percent over the next five years—consider it a secret no more.”

The fog market report includes the sizing and impact of fog in the following verticals: agriculture, datacenters, energy and utilities, health, industrial, military, retail, smart buildings, smart cities, smart homes, transportation, and wearables.

Fog computing is the system-level architecture that brings computing, storage, control, and networking functions closer to the data-producing sources along the cloud-to-thing continuum. Applicable across industry sectors, fog computing effectively addresses issues related to security, cognition, agility, latency and efficiency.

Download the full report at www.openfogconsortium.org/growth.

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Fog Use Cases:

According to the Open Fog Consortium, fog architectures offer several unique advantages over other approaches, which include, but are not limited to:

 Security: Additional security to ensure safe, trusted transactions
 Cognition: awareness of client-centric objectives to enable autonomy
 Agility: rapid innovation and affordable scaling under a common infrastructure
 Latency: real-time processing and cyber-physical system control
 Efficiency: dynamic pooling of local unused resources from participating end-user devices

New use cases created by the OpenFog Consortium were also released that showcase how fog works in industry.  These use cases provide fog technologists with detailed views of how fog is deployed in autonomous driving, energy, healthcare and smart buildings.

The August 2017 IEEE Communications magazine article lists various IoT vertical markets and example fog use cases for each one:

Table 1.

It also delineates several application examples and allowable latency for each one:

Table 2.
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IEEE to Standardize Fog Network Architecture based on Open Fog Consortium Reference Model

The OpenFog Consortium has announced that its OpenFog Reference Architecture will serve as the basis for a new working group formed by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) to accelerate the creation and adoption of industry standards for fog computing and networking.  This and other future standards on Fog computing and networking will serve as a significant catalyst to propel the digital revolution occurring as a result of advanced Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and embedded artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

Fog computing and networking is an advanced distributed architecture that brings computing, storage, control, and networking functions closer to the data-producing sources along the cloud-to-thing continuum. Applicable across industry sectors, fog computing effectively addresses issues related to security, cognition, agility, latency and efficiency (SCALE).

The inaugural meeting of the IEEE ComSoc Standards Working Group on Fog Computing and Networking Architecture Framework- Project P1934 [1] is scheduled for November 2017, with its work expected to be complete by April 2018.  Additional details were presented at two Fog World Congress sessions I attended on October 31st and November 1st in Santa Clara, CA (see below).

Note 1.  IEEE P1934 proposed standard: OpenFog Reference Architecture for Fog Computing:

-Working Group: Fog Computing Architecture Framework
-Working Group Chair: John Zao  –  jkzao@openfogconsortium.org
-Working Group Vice-Chair:  Tao Zhang  –  taozhang1@yahoo.com

-Sponsoring Society and Committee: IEEE Communications Society/Standards Development Board (COM/SDB)
-Sponsor Chair: Mehmet Ulema –  m.ulema@ieee.org

http://standards.ieee.org/develop/wg/FOG.html

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The OpenFog Reference Architecture is a universal technical framework designed to enable the data-intensive requirements of IoT, 5G and AI applications.  It is a structural and functional prescription of an open, inter-operable, horizontal system architecture for distributing computing, storage, control and networking functions closer to the users along a cloud-to-thing continuum. The framework encompasses various approaches to disperse information technology (IT), communication technology (CT) and operational technology (OT) services through an information messaging infrastructure as well as legacy and emerging multi-access networking technologies.

“This represents a giant step forward for fog computing and for the industry, which will soon have the specifications for use in developing industrial strength fog-based hardware, software and services,” said John Zao, Chair, IEEE Standards Working Group on Fog Computing and Networking Architecture Framework (and Associate Professor at Taiwan Chiao-Tung University). “The objective from the beginning was that the Open Fog Reference Architecture would serve as the high-level basis for industry standards, and the IEEE is looking forward to the collaboration in this effort.”

“The standards work produced by this new working group will be crucial in the continued growth of fog computing innovation and things-to-cloud systems,” said Dr. Mehmet Ulema, Director, Standards Development, IEEE Communications Society, and Professor at Manhattan College, New York. “This also is an outstanding example of the strategic alliance between IEEE and OpenFog to co-create and co-promote fog networking concepts and architectures.”

“The mandate for fog computing is growing stronger, driven by the recognition that traditional architectures can’t deliver on the operational challenges for today’s advanced digital applications,” said Helder Antunes, chairman of the OpenFog Consortium and Senior Director at Cisco.  “On behalf of the members of the OpenFog technical community, I’m pleased to see the recognized value of the OpenFog Reference Architecture and IEEE’s commitment to fog computing and networking via the formation of this new working group.”

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IEEE ComSoc Rapid Reaction Standards Activities – RRSA

On November 1st at the Open Fog World Congress, IEEE ComSoc Standards Chair Alex Gelman, PhD explained the RRSA mechanism to define new IEEE ComSoc standards for Fog computing/networking and other projects related to communications technologies.  Special targets for IEEE standardization are emerging technologies

Methodology:

  • Invite industry practitioners that have ideas for specific standardization projects or for areas of standardization
  • Identify relevant leading experts in the target field, e.g. Industrial  and academic researchers
  • Leverage IEEE ComSoc Technical Committees
  • Issue a call for participation, solicit project proposals and/or position statements
  • Select participants based on proposals/positions statements submissions
  • Selected proposals are typically selected that can be clustered in 1-3 groups
  • 1 day face to face meeting to come to agreement on a proposed new standard
  • If approved, culminates in a PAR – Project Authorization Request

Some observations made during OpenFog RRSA:

  • Scholarly nature of Fog Technologies
    • Fog/Edge technologies are still, at least in part, in conceptual phase
    • It is critical to engage Industrial and academic researchers in discussion and standardization
  • Multiplicity of standards
    • Notable complimentary efforts, e.g. MEC
    • The bad news about standards is that there are many to choose from
    • The good news about standards is that there are many to choose from
    • “Legislating” any particular technology will impede innovation
  • Properly architecting standards is key to harmonization of efforts
    • Early cooperation with IEEE and external standards groups is highly desirable for harmonization
    • Proper modularity of standards is critical for future Interoperability, Interworking, or Coexistence mechanisms
  • Viable Standardization Strategy
    • Harmonize IEEE standardization method with OpenFog entity-based membership is a good idea
    • Deploy adoption and standard development methods as appropriate
    • Position OpenFog Standardization among IEEE Strategic projects for 5G and Beyond

Related IEEE Standards Projects:

  • IEEE P1934 “Open Fog Reference Architecture for Fog Computing”
  • IEEE P2413™: Draft Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things

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Future Fog Computing and Networking Standards:

During a November 1st late afternoon discussion on Fog/IEEE standards, Professor Zao said that in the future, the Open Fog Consortium would work with IEEE and other standards bodies/entities on other Fog computing standards. This author suggested that future Fog networking standards follow the CCITT (now ITU-T) model adopted for ISDN in the early to mid 1980’s:  define the reference architecture, functional groupings and reference points between functional groupings.  Then standardize the interfaces, protocols and message sets based on pointers to existing standards (where applicable) or new standards.  Several attendees agreed with that approach with the goal of being able to certify compliance to exposed Fog networking interfaces.

References:

OpenFog Reference Architecture

https://www.openfogconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/OpenFog_Reference_Architecture_2_09_17-FINAL.pdf

 

IEEE Standards Association:  http://standards.ieee.org/

IEEE Standards for 5G and Beyond: https://5g.ieee.org/standards

IEEE IoT Initiative: https://iot.ieee.org/

IEEE SDN/NFV Initiative: https://sdn.ieee.org/

IEEE 5G Initiative: https://5g.ieee.org/

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Preview of Fog World Congress: October 30th to November 1st, Santa Clara, CA

The Fog World Congress (FWC), to be held October 30th to November 1st in Santa Clara, CA, provides an innovative forum for industry and academia in the field of fog computing and networking to define terms, discuss critical issues, formulate strategies and organize collaborative efforts to address the challenges.  Also, to share and showcase research results and industry developments.

FWC is co-sponsored by IEEE ComSoc and the OpenFog Consortium. It is  is the first conference that brings industry and research together to explore the technologies, challenges, industry deployments and opportunities in fog computing and networking.

Image result for illustration of fog computing

Don’t miss the fog tutorial sessions which aim to clarify misconceptions and bring the communities up to speed on the latest research, technical developments and industry implementations of fog. FWC Research sessions will cover a comprehensive range of topics. There will also be sessions designed to debate controversial issues such as why and where fog will be necessary, what will happen in a future world without fog, how could fog disrupt the industry.

Here are a few features sessions:

  • Fog Computing & Networking: The Multi-Billion Dollar opportunity before us
  • Driving through the Fog: Transforming Transportation through Autonomous vehicles
  • From vision to practice: Implementing Fog in Real World environments
  • Fog & Edge: A panel discussion
  • Fog over Denver: Building fog-centricity in a Smart City from the ground up
  • Fog Tank: Venture Capitalists take on the Fog startups
  • 50 Fog Design & Implementation Tips in 50 Minutes
  • Fog at Sea: Marine Use Cases For Fog Technology
  • NFV and 5G in a Fog computing environment
  • Security Issues, Approaches and Practices in the IoT-Fog Computing Era: A panel discussion

View the 5 track conference program here.

Finally, register here.

For general information about the conference, including registration, please email: info@fogworldcongress.com

About the Open Fog Consortium:

The OpenFog Consortium bridges the continuum between Cloud and Things in order to solve the bandwidth, latency and communications challenges associated with IoT, 5G and artificial intelligence.  Its work is centered around creating an open fog computing architecture for efficient and reliable networks and intelligent endpoints combined with identifiable, secure, and privacy-friendly information flows between clouds, endpoints, and services based on open standard technologies.  While not a standards organization, OpenFog drives requirements for fog computing and networking to IEEE.  The global nonprofit was founded in November 2015 and today represents the leading researchers and innovators in fog computing.

For more information, visit www.openfogconsortium.org; Twitter @openfog; and LinkedIn /company/openfog-consortium.

Reference:

http://techblog.comsoc.org/2017/07/20/att-latency-sensitive-next-gen-apps-need-edge-computing/

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