Companies are constantly exposed to shorter cycles of change in their everyday lives. The consumerization of IT is a great driver that will retain an important role in the future. For several years mobility, cloud, new applications, the Internet of Things and Big Data (analysis) show their effects. Besides these technological influences there is also the business impact, such as new business models, constant growth, globalization, and at the same time issues of security and compliance that lead to new challenges.
The evolution of the Internet leaves its marks
Looking at the evolution of the Internet, it is clear that the impact on companies and our society grow with the growth of smart connections. Started with simple connections via e-mail or web and therefore the digitization of information access, followed by the networked economy, in which it came with e-commerce and collaboration to digitize business processes. This was followed by something Cisco called as “realistic experiences”. This includes the digitization of business and social interactions such as social media, mobile and cloud. The next state we will achieve is the “Internet of Everything”, where people, processes, data and things are connected – the digitization of the world.
Each block has its own importance in the Internet of Everything. The connections between people become more relevant and valuable. The right person or machine receives the right information about intelligent processes at the right time. The data are processed into valuable information for decision making. Physical devices (things) are connected via the Internet with each other to enable intelligent decisions.
At the T-Systems Symposium 2013 in Dusseldorf, Cisco said, that they expect about 50 billion Smart Objects in 2020 that are connected to each other. On the contrary, there are just 7.6 billion people expected worldwide. Furthermore, Cisco is of the opinion that currently 99 percent of the world is not interconnected and that we will see trillions of smart sensor in the future. These are installed e.g. in intelligent buildings, cities or houses and help to save energy and to live more efficiently. But they will also lead to increase productivity or improve healthcare.
Technological foundations for the fully interconnected world
Due to its massive scalability, distribution, new applications and the possibilities for anywhere access, the cloud is one of the main bases for the fully interconnected world. Therefore, Cisco’s cloud strategy is to enable cloud providers and enterprises to deploy and broker different kinds of cloud services. At the same time Cisco application platforms should be provided for different of cloud categories.
However, the cloud needs to be enriched by approaches from the Internet of Things. These include intelligent business processes, people to machine-2-machine communication as well as other things such as sensors and actuators which are distributed everywhere. In the end, a worldwide highly scalable infrastructure is necessary that can control temporal variations and requirements between the different workloads.
Another key component is therefore something that Cisco called Fog Computing. The fog hast he task to deliver data and workloads closer to the user who is located at the edge of a data connection. In this context it is also spoken about „edge computing“. The fog is organizationally located below the cloud and serves as an optimized transfer medium for services and data within the cloud. The term „fog computing“ was characterized by Cisco as a new paradigm , which should support distributed devices during the wireless data transfer within the Internet of Things. Conceptual fog computing builds upon existing and common technologies like Content Delivery Networks (CDN), but based on cloud technologies it should ensure the delivery of more complex services.
As more and more data must be delivered to an ever-growing number of users, concepts are necessary which enhance the idea of the cloud and empower companies and vendors to provide their content over a widely spread platform to the enduser. Fog computing should help to transport the distributed data closer to the enduser and thus decrease latency and the number of required hops and therefore better support mobile computing and streaming services. Besides the Internet of Things, the rising demand of users to access data at any time, from any place and with any device, is another reason why the idea of fog computing will become increasingly important.
So, the essential characteristic of Fog Computing is that workloads can autonomously operate from the cloud to ensure the rapid, timely and stable access of a service.
The interconnected world needs intelligent technologies
To use the cloud as the fundamental basis for the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything, some hurdles still need to convey out of the way.
The current cloud deployment model set aside that the data are normally delivered directly and without an intermediate layer to the device or the end user. (Remark: There already exist CDN and edge locations, which thus provide caching and acceleration.) It is therefore assumed that the bandwidth for transmission of the data is maximum, and theoretically there is a delay of zero. However, this is only theoretically. In practice, high latencies and thus delays, poor elasticity and compared to the bandwidth significantly faster increasing amounts of data, lead to problems.
For this reason, approaches such as fog computing are required to be able to assume that a limited bandwidth, different delay times and dropped connections are available yet. Ideas such as the fog establish themselves as an intelligent intermediate layer, cache or as a kind of amplifier and coordinate the requirements of different workloads, data and information so that they are delivered independently and efficiently to the objects in the Internet of Everything.