Cloud computing has taken the cyber world by storm (pun intended) and has changed the way many users handle data. Traditionally, computer users would have to save and store all data on their personal devices or on local servers. The cloud, however, uses networks of remote servers to process, manage and store data, meaning that users can free up valuable personal and local space. And so, the people of cyberspace were happy, until:
The Internet of Things
Then came the Internet of things. The IoT's grand design is the concept that practically anything capable of being switched on can and should be connected to the Web, and that those things can and should communicate online with each other — be it a machine, an animal, a person or any device. All of these things are interwoven into a cyber tapestry of things capable of responding to and working with each other. Experts predict that by 2020, more than 50 billion "things" will be connected to the IoT, connected to users and interconnected with each other.
For individual users, this means if you hit snooze in the morning, your alarm clock could tell your coffee pot to hold off for another nine minutes, and your coffee pot could inform your car's navigation system that it should start searching for alternate, faster routes to work.
For businesses, this means your company's inventory could restock itself, event dates could be automatically rescheduled based on weather reports, and the price of gas could adjust itself based on current market trends. The possibilities are limited only by which "things" are connected to the IoT.
Though the IoT creates much cause for excitement, it should also give you pause. The IoT generates a tsunami of instantaneous data the likes of which may prove remote servers altogether insufficient. With the IoT hosting billions of devices that were formerly offline, it produces more than two exabytes of data each day.
Contemporary cloud paradigms lack the capacity to efficiently handle the volume, speed and variety of data that the IoT throws out there — and the bandwidth needed to transfer IoT data to the cloud for analysis is extraordinary. In order to effectively harness this data, new infrastructure is required.
In rolls fog computing (pun also intended). Unlike its sibling the cloud, which is out in the ether, the fog is close by and surrounds the multitude of smart devices in the near vicinity, or at "the edge." Since the fog is closer to where users can rack up two exabytes of data, processing and transferring data becomes more manageable.
In short, cloud and fog computing both offer end users data, storage, computation and application services, but fog computing is in much closer proximity to end users and better supports mobility. To be clear, fog computing will not replace cloud computing altogether; rather, it's a supplement to the cloud.
Currently, data protection in the cloud is usually employed through authentication and encryption, though in fog computing the same safety tactics may not be as successful. To ensure the safety of data when using cloud and fog paradigms, intrusion detection can yield positive results. Maintaining a cloud backup service that offers automatic backup protection as well as server protection will aid in preventing intrusion.
Though fog computing doesn't replace cloud computing, it is a necessary supplement to cloud computing considering the demands the IoT now brings to the table. Instead of viewing the two paradigms as competing models, they should be seen as companions in creating optimization and security as the Internet of Things continues to grow.