A Growing IoT Means That The Cloud Is Becoming Fog

Our homes and work places and vehicles contain smart / connected devices that use electronics, software sensors and actuators to collect and send data via the Internet to the cloud. In the workplace the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) has created new opportunities, improved efficiency and has shown itself to be a source of competitive advantage.

These IoT devices however also produce a lot of extra data which, up until recently has all been sent to the cloud for processing. Now the ‘fog computing’ model means that much of the processing of this data can be done away from the main cloud. This should ensure that the cloud’s performance and efficiency is maintained as the IoT grows.

IoT Now A Critical Factor

The recent Vodafone Barometer Report based on an independent study involving 1,100 enterprise and public-sector executives from 17 countries showed how important the IoT has become.  The report shows that three quarters of organisations see how they use the Internet of Things (IoT) as being a critical factor in their success.

The report also shows that 37% of adopters say that they are already running their entire business on IoT, and 48% say they’re using IoT to support large-scale business transformation.

Budget For IoT Increased

89% of companies (Vodafone figures) have increased their IoT budgets over the last year, with investment now accounting for almost a quarter of IT budgets.  These adopters have been allocating more of their budgets to IoT than to cloud or analytics.

How Cloud Computing Supports IoT

The large, and increasing amount of data generated by the IoT has to go somewhere for processing and storage, and that place is the cloud. What the cloud and the IoT have in common is that they can both increase efficiency in the daily activities of your organisation.

Some of the important ways that the cloud is helping us to make the most of the IoT (through IoT cloud platforms) at present are:

  • Keeping the costs down by allowing you to only pay for the resources you use.
  • Enabling greater economies of scale. This can translate into lower prices for customers.
  • Saving money on operating data centres.
  • It takes away the hassle of having to constantly keep estimating your infrastructure capacity needs.
  • Increased speed and agility for your organisation, and applications can be deployed worldwide in minutes.

The Cloud, The Fog and the Edge

What is already happening, and is a trend that is likely to increase in the future is that the multitude of smart IoT devices are producing a very large amount data that has to be transported the cloud for analysis and storage. All this back and forth communication has been clogging things up, using too much bandwidth, causing inefficiencies, and negatively affecting performance.

The solution for the immediate future is ‘fog computing’, also known as edge computing.

Decentralized Hubs To Process IoT Data

The term fog computing was first used by Cisco to describe a decentralized computing infrastructure that can improve efficiency by reducing the amount of data that needs to be transported to the cloud.  The idea is to bring the cloud closer to the data source.

With fog / edge computing, instead of all of the IoT data being sent all the way to the cloud for processing, much of the processing is carried on a data hub on a smart mobile device or on the edge of the network in a smart router or other gateway device.  The fog / edge model therefore increases efficiency while maintaining security and compliance.

Fog Computing Forecast To Increase Dramatically

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s figures predict that the number of IoT devices using fog computing will increase from the current level of around 600 million to 5.8 billion by 2020.

It is clear therefore that as our use of IoT devices increases in the coming years, the cloud will be able to better serve organisations by adopting the fog / edge model.  This will provide a better way to collect and process data from IoT.

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