Fog computing looks set for a substantial growth phase, as new research from the OpenFog Consortium finds that the market will exceed $18 billion worldwide by 2022.
To understand the fog, we must first look at the cloud. (Sorry, that will be the first and last weather-based half-pun). Proponents of fog computing point out that cloud can have inherent issues. Being data centre-based means there is latency in communications, and however small this might be, it can be a drag on computing that wants to get ever closer to real time.
So, there’s this thing called edge computing – or sometimes, ‘fog computing – that puts data processing not in the cloud but on the edge of a network where it is closer to points where data is generated. This reduces latency. Cisco has taken this whole idea a step further with its concept of fog computing. Here computing happens very close to the place where data is generated.
TheOpenFog Consortium puts it like this: “The growth in IoT is explosive, impressive – and unsustainable under current architectural approaches.”
“Many IoT deployments face challenges related to latency, network bandwidth, reliability and security, which cannot be addressed in cloud-only models. Fog computing adds a hierarchy of elements between the cloud and endpoint devices, and between devices and gateways, to meet these challenges in a high performance, open and interoperable way.”
The consortium was founded in 2015 by Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Princeton University, Dell, and ARM and now has 58 members worldwide, including Forbes 500 companies and many respected universities.
Making the murky manageable
The OpenFog Consortium-commissioned report, Size and Impact of Fog Computing Market, conducted by analyst firm 451 Research, looks at the growth trajectory for fog computing over the coming five years. It has identified that hardware will account for the largest percentage of overall fog revenue (52 percent), followed by fog applications (20 percent) and then services (16 percent). By 2022, spend will shift to apps and services, as fog functionality is incorporated into existing hardware.
The report looks at different markets for fog computing, identifying opportunities and projecting growth in each of them. It projects that the largest markets will be, in order, energy/utilities, transportation, healthcare and the industrial sectors. Other markets examined in the report include agriculture, data centres, military, retail, smart buildings, smart cities, smart homes and wearables.
An increasingly important role
The report says fog computing looks set to play a key role in IoT, 5G and other advanced distributed and connected systems. It will be helped along the way by some important market transitions which include investments in energy infrastructure modernisation, demographic shifts and regulatory mandates in transportation and healthcare.
This will all happen within the context of the report’s predicted growth in cloud spending. It says a rise of 147% will see this grow to $6.4 billion (€5.50 billion) by 2022.