Through the fog smartly: Unleashing the power of IoT

morning-fog

It took a few years, but most enterprise professionals these days now have a firm understanding of cloud computing, how it works, and what it can do for an organization or individual.

All of which should make it easier to grasp the idea behind — and the benefits that can derived from — fog computing. If you’re not yet familiar with fog, you will be soon if your organization has made a big commitment to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Simply put, fog computing is edge computing for IoT devices. And what’s driving the need for fog is the unprecedented flow of information from IoT devices. As TMC CEO Rich Tehrani writes, “Sensors are generating north of 2 exabytes of data and it cannot all be sent to the cloud.”

Technology analyst firm 451 Research estimates the global fog computing market will surpass $18 billion by 2022, with the energy/utilities, transportation, healthcare and industrial sectors leading the way. These industries are aggressively adopting IoT technologies in order to gain greater operational efficiencies, reduce manufacturing and distribution costs, detect and fix equipment problems more quickly, and much more.

Fog makes sense for these industries and any enterprises with a widely distributed network of devices generating digital data because it puts computing, networking, and storage resources closer to users and the sources of data. The resulting reduction in latency enables enterprises to be more agile and efficient.

So how does fog look in the real world? The OpenFog Consortium cites several use cases:

  • Fog allows real-time computation of subsurface imaging and monitoring for oil and gas exploration in remote locations.
  • Commercial buildings with “energy efficiency, improved occupant experience, and lower operational costs” through the collection of data from sensors measuring building “temperature, humidity, occupancy, energy usage, keycard readers, parking space occupancy, fire, smoke, flood, security, elevators, and air quality.”
  • Real-time communications and analytics enable healthcare providers to get vital patient data and deploy applications “for moment-to-moment healthcare operations.”

Fortunately, cloud computing has laid the groundwork for fog in the enterprise, which should make the roll-out of fog computing deployments a bit more manageable. (Can’t a tech writer dream?) But as with any new technology, enterprise decision-makers should have a strong business case for the use of fog. What problems would it solve? What opportunities would it create? Can it help save money or time?

From there it’s a matter of developing an implementation strategy and plan. Generally, starting small is the best way to go because you get the mistakes out of the way and learn something as you scale out. You’ll also need to assess your internal skill set to determine how much help you need from a services provider.

Is your enterprise in the fog yet? Let us know in the comments section below.

RELATED LINKS

Start your IoT journey by choosing the right paths

So many IoT vendors, so little time

No, your competitors probably aren’t rolling out massive IoT deployments (yet)

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