Under the cloud, the fog appears

As use of the cloud continues to expand rapidly, businesses are hitting a bandwidth wall. New smart devices—refrigerators, street lights, cars, and appliances, to name a few—are generating so much data that existing networks can’t communicate with the cloud fast enough.

That’s where the fog comes in.

A column in the Wall Street Journal describes the role of a new computing layer—“the fog”—made up of networks of smart devices across the Internet of Things.

Whereas the cloud is “up there,” and removed from the user’s sight, the fog is ground level, and only communicates with the cloud when it’s necessary—say, when a smart device needs to communicate an emergency. Otherwise, the fog goes about the business of  collecting, storing, and processing data, taking the bandwidth burden off of the cloud.

Cisco and IBM are already experimenting with the fog. Cisco is turning routers into localized data hubs, and IBM is connecting computers in the fog in a sort of miniature, device-based cloud. Until bandwidth capabilities grow enough to handle the massive amount of data generated by the Internet of Things, it may be time for companies to step into the fog. 

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