Just when you thought you finally had Cloud Computing figured out, the next great meteorological buzzword rears its ugly head: Fog Computing. Basically an extension of the data center-focused Cloud to the Internet of Things, Fog Computing promises a fully decentralized, peer-to-peer model for elastic, virtualized computing.
The idea for Fog Computing apparently came from some academically-oriented techies at Cisco, who wrote a paper on the topic in August 2012. But such technical papers rarely if ever generate much interest in the marketplace, and thus aren’t very good fodder for blogs like this one. Rather, what makes Fog Computing worth a second glance is what the startup vendor Symform is up to.
Symform offers a peer-to-peer, crowdsourced Cloud backup solution that doesn’t require data centers. Instead, your files are chopped up and distributed to extra storage space belonging to hundreds of other Symform customers. If you remember how the SETI@home alien-hunting screensaver from the 1990s worked, you have the general idea.
Symform, however, is just scratching the surface of Fog Computing. Once we free the Cloud from the data center, and consider any device – computer, smartphone, or even a remote sensor – as part of the Cloud (excuse me, Fog), then all manner of new possibilities pop up. For example, my idea of remotely provisioning Cloud instances on smartphones would be an example of Fog Computing. I’m sure there are others. What could you do in the Fog?