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