Feature Story

Fog brings the cloud closer to the ground: Cisco innovates in fog computing

by Stephanie Chan

Cisco innovates in fog computing

What's new and next for this disruptive technology? Cisco shows how it uses fog in multiple industries.

2017's Fog World Congress (FWC) was the inaugural conference for fog computing, bringing the global community, researchers, and leaders together to learn about the impact of fog computing and networking.

Bringing enablement to IoT, 5G, and embedded AI, the bleeding edge nature of fog computing allows things, apps, and devices to connect at a rapid pace.A Cisco Fellow created the term "fog computing" in 2014 to describe the extension of cloud computing to the edge of an enterprise's network. Bringing enablement to IoT, 5G, and embedded AI, the bleeding edge nature of fog computing allows things, apps, and devices to connect at a rapid pace. The technology allows massive amounts of data to be processed quicker as well.

Leaders from Cisco, including SVP and Chief Strategy Officer Hilton Romanski, Chair of the OpenFog Consortium Helder Antunes, and General Chair of the Fog World Congress Tao Zhang, gave keynotes on Cisco's fog leadership. Corporate Strategic Innovation Group VP Maciej Kranz and Principal Engineer and Platform Architect Chuck Byers participated in panels as well. Cisco, a leader in fog and the Diamond Sponsor of FWC, also held demonstrations at their booth, showing how the company utilizes fog for Kinetic Innovation, Blockchain, IoT Applications and at the Cisco Innovation Centers. 

How Cisco sees the future of fog

Romanski stressed how fog will continue to impact industries around the world in his keynote Advancing IoT Through Fog Computing. In the last year, Romanski stated, the Internet of Things delivered products to market faster, it prevented emergencies, it reduced energy usage, and more.

Disruption and digitization like this all comes into reality through fog computing. Fog—like the word implies—brings the cloud closer to the ground. Fog is able to facilitate operations and services to the vision of the multi-cloud. This is a horizontal architectural approach that distributes network services across the cloud in a way that helps drive decisions and analytics. This way, fog computing can solve problems for businesses and help save money.

To explain, Romanski used the example of the smart city of Barcelona. Through IoT technology, the government can provide the best possible services for its citizens, including unification of waste and transportation management, traffic data, and WiFi access points. All of these services are virtualized and managed in a single box. Operational problems—something that would usually take days to fix—could be managed within hours or minutes using fog computing.

Terabytes of data can also be moved and analyzed at a rapid pace, truly creating changes in industries like oil and gas, retail, manufacturing, and more. At Cisco's Innovation Centers around the world, the company works with global startups to create these solutions—sensors at Barcelona's Innovation Center, retail solutions at IdeaLONDON, and lighting transformations at Cisco Innovation Center Toronto.

Fog come to life

It's these solutions that Cisco continues to work on across discipline and geography. All of the Innovation Centers were on showcase at the FWC at Cisco's demo booth. An interactive map of the world allowed visitors to pinpoint and go into individual Innovation Centers to learn more through images and videos.

The Cisco booth's IOx (IoS and Linux) and Fog applications demo station showed how Internet of Things applications can be executed with fog computing. Cisco IoS software was used to show how IoT sensors can integrate with the cloud in a quick, safe, and reliable way.

The Kinetic Innovation section of the booth was able to collect data on a management platform—this platform can deliver tools and guidelines for creating something like a smart city framework.

The Blockchain use case showed how to safely register devices on a Blockchain network. This, the demo explained, is the first step to creating a secure supply chain.

What's next?  

Romanski and the Cisco team at FWC was extremely optimistic about the future of fog computing.

Benefits, Romanski stated in his keynote, will continue to be obvious—things like greater business agility, better security, deeper insights into privacy, device connection, the promise of automation, and the list goes on.

"We can define how the game is going to be made," says Romanski, "We can be pioneers in fog computing. In the final analysis, fog will be every bit as important as cloud is. There will be hundreds of billions of things connected on the ground level. Fog is important now and into the future."