Silver Lining for Business - How to Utilize Fog Computing?







Silver Lining for Business - How to Utilize Fog Computing?

Author: Rasa Gulbe, DATI Group board member

With the arrival of a new year, we look back at the IT infrastructure trends of previous years. Back in 2003, IT infrastructure for business was modest in terms of hardware, data sources and application architecture. By 2013, smartphones and tablets were commonplace; the first commercial cloud solutions were appearing. From 2020 onward we’ve seen rapid changes in the number of devices and diversity of devices while also moving work outside of offices. What awaits us in 2023?

There’s no doubt that requirements for information availability won’t get smaller and IT architecture will need to support various geographically dispersed data sources that allow the users to work from anywhere.

A term for cloud-edge continuum was defined in 2012 – fog computing. It is a type of computing that provides edge device connection with cloud solutions with the help of tailored platforms, thus enabling edge devices to be used for IoT real-time analytics and reaction, while more complex tasks are carried out in the cloud itself where data is stored over the long run. As it is a case of best of both worlds, cloud-edge continuum quickly became a popular topic for research; at the same time, businesses were slow to implement this solution.

Companies from manufacturing, mobility and transport management fields were the quickest to recognize the value in connecting various sensors, cameras, and other smart devices to cloud solutions and started to implement fog computing. In other fields, where most work is traditionally done from offices, development of this kind of infrastructure seemed like a distant dream. Namely, to implement a cloud-edge continuum the company must first implement and then successfully connect cloud solutions, edge devices and their management mechanism. In 2021 only 60% of companies in Latvia used cloud solutions. The share of companies using edge devices was even smaller.

However, as 2022 has come to an end, there are hardly any companies left that work purely from their offices. And hardly any companies doubt the value added from cloud solutions. In that case, how can you tell if you need fog computing? And how to start its roll-out?

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The biggest value from cloud-edge continuum is the option to carry out part of the analysis where the data is collected, but store large quantities of data and carry out, for example, scenario modeling in the cloud. It is therefore important to understand:

What is the volume and type of data that needs to be processed? Could all the necessary insight be gained from edge devices (e.g., sensors)? Will “heavy” video of photo files need to be processed?

How do you see your work environment in 5 years? Will teams be working outside of your offices? Will it be possible to automate your work by using edge devices?

What are your data security and management requirements? Is it necessary to process sensitive information (e.g., personal data)? Will it be difficult to manage it with the existing infrastructure as the number of data sources increases?

If it is possible to gain additional insight from smart devices and edge devices, but it is necessary to process large video or photo files, the number of data sources is likely to increase and their management could be difficult due to their geographical spread, then you should most likely consider fog computing.

To deploy fog computing in your company, a good start would be the selection of appropriate cloud solutions. For small enterprises with modest infrastructure and data security requirements a public cloud could initially be sufficient. But, as the volume of storable and processable data or security requirements grow, a private cloud (managed by the company itself) becomes the more appropriate choice.

When it comes to introduction of edge devices,two aspects need to be considered – data location and accessibilityrequirements. Additionally, it is possible to apply for business digitizationfunding to reduce initial capital investments when deploying the solutionthat’s most relevant to your company.

More about the available funding:

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Sources of information used in this article:

Bonomi, Flavio & Milito, Rodolfo. (2012). Fog Computing and its Role in the Internet of Things. Proceedings of the MCC workshop on Mobile Cloud Computing. 10.1145/2342509.2342513.

Bittencourt, Luiz Fernando & Immich, Roger & Sakellariou, Rizos & Fonseca, Nelson & Madeira, Edmundo & Curado, Marilia & Villas, Leandro & Silva, Luiz & Lee, Craig & Rana, Omer. (2018). The Internet of Things, Fog and Cloud Continuum: Integration and Challenges. Internet of Things. 3-4. 10.1016/j.iot.2018.09.005.

Zou, Zhuo & Jin, Yi & Nevalainen, Paavo & Huan, Yuxiang & Heikkonen, Jukka & Westerlund, Tomi. (2019). Edge and Fog Computing Enabled AI for IoT-An Overview. 51-56. 10.1109/AICAS.2019.8771621.