Computing Forecast: Cloudy Today, Foggy Tomorrow

Fractal Realms series. Backdrop of fractal elements, grids and symbols on the subject of education, science and technology


Cloud computing has changed the landscape of the computing technology. In 1988, a
little known, Menlo Park based company called Google used its cloud strategy to beat
Microsoft. In April this year, its parent company, Alphabet, has surpassed the $800
billion mark in market value compare with Microsoft’s $521 billion. An emerging technology,
Fog Computing, promises to cause further disruption.

by John Koon, Editor-In-Chief

What is Fog Computing and how it relates
to the growing IoT phenomenon?

By now we are all familiar with Internet-of-Things (IoT). The
forecast of the number of IoT connection will reach billions in
the next few years. Smart sensors and devices will be connected
to the servers to provide insights on operations. This will
increase productivity of every aspect of our lives. But it is easier
said than done. If something goes wrong, who is to blame?
Who is really in charge here? It seems to make sense to have a
universal standard to provide guidance and have a certification
program in place to guarantee everything will work accordingly.
This is exactly what OpenFog Consortium is set out to do. In
February of 2017, the non-profit organization has published its
first “OpenFog Reference Architecture for Fog Computing” and
has provided a clear definition of what Fog computing is. The
documentation is downloadable for free from the organization’s


Fog Computing is a horizontal, system-level architecture
that distributes computing, storage, control and networking
functions closer to the users along a cloud-to-thing continuum.
Fog computing is an extension of the traditional cloud-based
computing model where implementations of the architecture
can reside in multiple layers of a network’s topology. However, all
the benefits of cloud should be preserved with these extensions
to fog, including containerization, virtualization, orchestration,
manageability, and efficiency. Figure 1.

The basic idea is to have a set of universal specification/ standards
to guide the development of computing relating to connectivity
and communication. Behind the organization are a group
of technology companies and research academies including
ARM, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Princeton University.

According to Helder Antunes, chairman of OpenFog and
senior director of corporate strategic innovation group of Cisco,
Fog Computing is gaining momentum worldwide. Photo 1.
Currently it has 57 members reside in 15 countries. Japan, China
and the European regions are very committed. The Chinese
government has made investment in the development of Fog
Computing. The one-stop shop approach of providing continuity
of cloud to edge to devices has attracted the attention of
IoT product and service manufacturers. Dr. Mung Chiang, a
founding board member and an Authur LeGrand Doty professor
of electrical engineering of Princeton University has extensive
experience in researching fog and cloud, is taking the lead in
educating the industry and academies of the technologies. In
the future, Chiang wishes to see all segments in the industry and
more academia to participate in the development of OpenFog.
Photo 2. When OpenFog first, Princeton was the only academic
founding member. Microsoft is a founding member of the OpenFog
Consortium. According to Jerry Lee, Director of Product
Marketing, Data Platform and IoT of Microsoft, “Azure IoT Edge
is the evolution of the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, which you can
get started today on Azure IoT GitHub page. Azure IoT Edge is
the new name for our open-source and cross-platform support
for building custom logic at the edge, and the newly announced
features will be available later this year.” Photo 3.

The Big Picture

IoT touches every aspect of our lives; so will Fog Computing.
The major areas benefited by Fog Computing include manufacturing,
healthcare, agriculture, transportation, automotive,
smart cities and energy (oil/gas and other smart grids). The
common theme under Fog Computing is connectivity and
secure communication. Smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0,
a European standard promoting the future of manufacturing
is an example. This new smart manufacturing called Industry
4.0 promises massive opportunities and it has captured the
attention of the industrial world and the developing countries.
According to a 2015 European Union paper, Industry 4.0 was
intended to provide rapid transformation to manufacturing to
reverse the decline in industrialization to a targeted 20% growth.
This is significant. To accomplish this, it requires Fog Computing.
Many Fortune 500 companies are standing behind Fog
Computing. Cisco, a supporter of Fog, has recently introduced
an IoT software platform, Cisco Jasper Control Center, at the IoT
World Forum focuses on data delivery of IoT, Connected Car
and Mobile Enterprise. In the case of connected cars, the solution
would enable auto makers to collect performance data from
automobiles without having the owner seeing an auto mechanic.
When services need to be done, a notice can automatically be
sent to the owner and the service department. Additionally, new
software updates can be downloaded remotely without any disruption.
“These new platform solutions provide better Quality of
Service and help users gain productivity,” according to Macario
Namie, head of IoT strategy, Cisco Jasper. Separately, Excelfore
(Molex is a major investor), a non-OpenFog member, has also
announced a new initiative with multiple auto makers called
eSync Alliance to provide similar solutions.

The 5G Factor

5G is the foundation of Fog Computing. It provides speed 100
times faster than what 4G LTE can offer. Its super speed allows
future connected and driverless cars to access data fast and in
real-time to make driving decisions. All major carriers are moving
ahead with 5G. Verizon with the acquisition of Straight Path
is taking the lead. Additionally, Verizon is testing 5G in 11 cities
today by offering 5G to pilot customers in the metropolitan cities
including Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville (NJ), Brockton
(MA), Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle
and Washington, D.C. to prove that the gigabit broadband will
indeed deliver its expected performance. This is done with Verizon’s
5G Technology Forum (5GTF) partners. Potentially this
will create new opportunities to the whole ecosystem.
Additionally, early this year, Verizon and Ericsson jointly announced
the pre-commercial pilot run with the goal to fine tune
the end-to-end 5G network using existing Verizon infrastructure
and add new wireless technologies to it. Arun Bansal, Head of
Business Unit Network Products at Ericsson, says: “Ericsson 5G
Radios have been providing multi-gigabit speeds into subscriber
locations by using advanced radio techniques. For example,
beamforming can be used to find the best path for the 28GHz
radio signal to reach the user.”

The new 5G technologies with higher bandwidth and lower
latency in the core and radio network allow operators to provide
new services to their customers and create new opportunities.
The Ericsson Mobility Report cited that there would be 550 million 5G subscriptions globally in 2022 with 25% in N. America,
the largest share.

The biggest challenge ahead

There will be challenges ahead as more and more smart sensors
and devices connected together. The biggest is cyber threats
worldwide. Attacks are occurring daily with some logging one
billion attack attempts a day. This is not to be under estimated.
Take a look at the recent WannaCry attacks in May this year. It
happened before the weekend and yet many were unaware of the
attack until Monday when they returned to work. This reached
over 150 countries and 200,000 systems. Many organizations
like the national railway in Germany, the largest phone company
in Spain and Fed EX were affected. This should serve as a grave
warning to all.

The industrial Internet Contortion with founding members
including IBM, Bosch, GE, Schneider Electric, SAP and the like
are pushing for better cybersecurity. It is taking the initiative in
promoting better Industrial Internet including better security
by providing the Industrial Security Framework (IISF), an
in-depth cross-industry-focused security framework. This was
a comprehensive paper developed by international security
experts from the Industrial Internet Consortium in September
of 2016. Its three objectives are Drive industry consensus, promote
IIoT security best practices and accelerate the adoption of
those practices. Sven Schrecker, Chair of the Industrial Internet
(IIC) Security Working Group, has led the effort to counter
cyber threats. By working with multiple consortia worldwide,
Schrecker hopes to lead the industry to develop better software
and product policy to increase security. As chair of the working
group, he also oversees the five subgroups with tasks including
Security Liaisons, Security Editors, Security Applicability, Testbed
Security and Trustworthiness. Photo 4.

Example of a Fog Computing Food Chain

There are two major developments occurring in parallel. One
is the high-bandwidth low-latency 5G delivering gigabit speed.
The other is low-speed, low-power LTE called the low-power
wide area network (LPWAN). While the ecosystem involves
network gear manufacturers, software developers, device and
silicon makers, ultimately everything builds on silicon. The
largest silicon maker, Intel, has fought for years to gain traction
in the wireless space. After trying to build its own teams and
acquiring wireless firms, Intel has not been able to show success.
With projected IoT connection in the billions, the opportunity
will come from the IoT and LPWAN device market. The company
to watch is Qualcomm who pioneered the 3G and 4G/LTE

Qualcomm has been building wireless LTE modem chips in
high volume, thanks to Apple’s successful iPhone business. The
future of computing will be Fog and 5G development. Qualcomm
with its experience in cell phone modem and LPWAN,
is positioning itself as the leader in both 5G and LPWAN. Additionally,
it is also trying to carve out a piece of the embedded
market segment which has long been dominated by Intel, with
its Snapdragon product lines.

The Company is currently shipping over 300 million chips
in the IoT market and over 30 OEM designs are using its
MDM9206 multimode modem chip. Qualcomm’s strategy is to
continue to build products for the LPWAN (Cat M1 and NB1)
market. Recently, Qualcomm has added to the Snapdragon 5G
modem family the 5G New Radio (NR) multi-mode chipset
solutions compliant with the 3GPP-based 5G NR global system.
As a partner of Verizon, Qualcomm also has its own ecosystem
members including IPS Group, Linknyc, Gemalto, Sierra
Wireless, ATT, Telit, Simcom, Honeywell and more. These ecosystem
members would continue to build devices based on the
Qualcomm silicon. With a healthy food chain (carrier, silicon,
software and devices) in place, Fog, 5G and IoT will continue to
gain momentum.