For the last five or six years, worldwide networking has been all about the cloud. The cloud has been marketed as the ultimate networking solution for businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and even individual users, however all of this cloud activity has been hampered by the very nature of the technology itself. More dense Internet traffic combined with service providers incapable of offering fast enough speeds has limited cloud adoption.
Welcome to the fog.
Something known as ‘fog computing' offers the latest form of networking based on bringing the cloud concept closer to home. In other words, where a company may currently use cloud sites anywhere in the world to host IT services, they could enjoy higher speeds and fewer disruptions by bringing those services closer to the company's actual, physical location. Though this may sound like a throwback to the old days of mainframe computing, there is something decidedly different about the fog concept.
Rather than go back to mainframe hosting in a central location, the fog concept calls for using the Internet of Things to provide ‘mini hosts' within a given environment. Simply put, every electronic device capable of plugging into a network is also capable of hosting data and applications. Fog developers can envision everything from desktop boxes to high-capacity printers acting as access points for dozens of network computers.
The exciting thing about the fog concept is that almost every company and government entity already possesses the infrastructure to make it work. Take the average high-speed commercial router for example. It is not uncommon for a company's 1 GB router to be capable of working a lot faster than Internet servers and providers will allow. That router's potential is being wasted because a cloud connection is simply not fast enough.
Connect that same router to an Intranet environment involving numerous devices and you have an entirely new paradigm. File transfers are faster, applications are more robust and everything is exponentially more productive. It all comes down to cutting both the distance data has to travel and the number of users on a given network.
Bringing the Internet Back Home
Development of fog computing will result in ‘bringing the Internet back home' so to speak. The idea is similar to walking next door to hand your neighbour a package rather than sending it to the Post Office so they can turn around and bring it right back to your neighbourhood. The fog concept eliminates the external network in applications where it is not necessary. It is actually a very smart idea.
Those in favour of the fog-computing concept believe it will benefit the entire Internet community rather than just those who utilise it. We do not disagree. The more unnecessary traffic we can take off Internet networks, the faster and more efficient it will be for everyone. Here's hoping fog developers can make it work as envisioned. They might be able to eliminate some of the haze of the modern cloud.