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What is fog
computing, and
how can it help
with edge
computing?

Author: Shane Schick

Encountering fog can be a hazard when you're driving because it makes the road you are traveling on more difficult to see.

Fog computing, however, creates the opposite effect—making it easier for data to travel between an ever-growing range of applications and devices from the cloud to wherever it is needed.

What is fog computing?

Some organizations may have already gotten familiar with edge computing as a way to address issues such as latency, speed, reliability and security. But what is fog computing?

The simplest answer is to think of fog computing as a highly compelling use case of edge. It can provide an additional (and valuable) layer between the edge and the cloud.

By processing data across nodes closer to the source where the data is created, fog offers a distributed architecture that can:

  • Reduce latency
  • Boost network efficiency
  • Reduce storage needs
  • Improve data transfer efficiency

Another way to answer the "What is fog computing" question is to describe a "fog" of devices. These might comprise thousands of small devices, such as sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), for instance. These nodes can act as a mediator between the cloud, the IoT or wherever else data has to travel.

Typical fog use cases

A good example of where this works in practice includes sectors such as agriculture, where farmers install cameras to monitor the conditions of animals or to optimize water usage by keeping track of crop conditions using moisture sensors. Rather than face challenges in terms of processing time and sending video streams outside the farm, using fog nodes requires less bandwidth and can handle computing on site. It also means multiple video streams can be processed at the same time.

Meanwhile, in the energy sector, fog nodes can speed up the ability to make decisions, such as changing the temperature based on sensor data from within a power plant. Similar advantages can be seen in adjacent markets, including oil and gas, telematics, forestry and even seismology, helping detect earthquakes and related seismic activity.

In general, fog is often deployed in areas where data and connectivity is highly distributed over a WAN or areas with limited bandwidth or intermittent network access.

It is important to recognize that the answer to the question "What is fog computing?" is not "a replacement for the cloud." Fog nodes can use core cloud capabilities to gather data in central locations. In other circumstances, though, the fog can be completely distributed, offering organizations flexibility in where they apply the technology for maximum business value.

Learn more about how to take advantage of both fog and edge computing in your business.

  • FAQ

What is fog computing? +

An architecture that can help determine what data needs to be pushed to the cloud and what can be processed locally at the edge.

How does fog computing work? +

A series of small fog nodes are deployed at the edge or as part of an IoT gateway.

What is an example of fog computing? +

Fog nodes could speed up the processing and efficiency of data traffic in autonomous vehicles, improving their operations and safety.

Why we need fog computing? +

In some environments, there can be capacity and efficiency limits in how data moves between the edge and the cloud. Fog nodes ensure only the most relevant data moves to the cloud.