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Up In The Cloud: Computing In The Fog
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Up In The Cloud: Computing In The Fog - Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Computing In The Fog

Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Computing In The Fog

If there were only one coffee shop in the middle of a metro area, every caffeine fiend headed for his morning fix would have to build extra commute time into his routine, and any anomaly in traffic patterns or disruption to the usual flow would slow everything down, not only for drivers needing lattes, but for their employers and coworkers who depend on them. Thankfully, we’ve got cafés in every neighborhood, sometimes on every block, so a cup of Joe is literally on the way to the office for just about everyone. Additionally, many of these cafés are supplied by common distributors who make the rounds late at night, when traffic is nearly nonexistent, resulting in consistency across the service without everyone having to come to the same place every day.

The one café in the middle of town, to simplify our metaphor, is the cloud, a central location for all our data, accessible from anywhere else. As long as the amount of traffic to the cloud is predictable or manageable even at its peak, things work okay. But as we know from every technological crisis we’ve ever had, nothing is predictable or manageable all the time. The multiple cafés on every corner are the fog, locations out at the edges where we can get what we need more quickly and with less chance of slowdown caused by others. At its most basic level, fog computing is the transfer and processing of data across shorter distances, right where it’s needed, without having to shoot through the internet to one central processing center before coming back to us.

If you’re using a music-streaming service, when you click “play” on that new Jimmy Buffett song, your app sends the request to the cloud. The cloud receives the request, verifies that you’re a registered user, logs your usage (and other data related to your playing this song), then sends the song to your tablet, phone, or computer. If you’re using Bluetooth speakers, the data is then sent from your device to the speakers. That’s a lot of distance for thirteen megabytes of data to travel, when your device is right in your hands and your speakers are on the shelf above your chair. Fog computing handles all this data in a more local fashion, without sending it all through the spine of the internet to a cloud service.

In this way, a city with responsive streetlights can keep its data and processing local, using local infrastructure—still part of the internet but only a small, neighborhood part—to monitor usage and regulate resources. There’s no need to involve the rest of the internet in your town’s streetlight usage, and fog computing means a city doesn’t have to worry about its data being slowed by traffic on the internet. This also means that the data is far less susceptible to malicious problems, such as a directed denial of service attack or stolen data, or problems with bad luck, so that a massive storm in California doesn’t affect streetlights or driverless cars in Honolulu.

The big takeaway, if fog computing (also called edge computing) is a new concept to you, is that as more and more devices become connected to the internet, you and your business may need to build new ways to keep manage your data with minimal chances for catastrophe, especially if your work is time-sensitive or especially confidential. As you continue to move your structure into the cloud, consider also the possibilities for using the cloud, as processing power becomes more available at the local level.


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Up In The Cloud: Computing In The Fog - Executive Leadership Articles

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