Explaining the Long-Term Value of Fog Computing

Cisco Systems has known for a long time that it's needed to move into new segments of IT because the internet plumbing business is eventually going to saturate the markets and start to wane.

So, in addition to the data center hardware equipment sector and a deeper dive into security products, the world's largest internet networking provider made the decision a few years ago to create its own niche: something it calls fog computing.

In January 2014, the networking giant introduced its fog computing vision, the idea of bringing cloud computing capabilities—from applications and data analytics to processing, networking and storage—to the edge of the network, closer to the rapidly growing number of user devices that are consuming cloud services and generating the increasingly massive amount of data.

Cisco also unveiled the company's IOx platform, designed to bring distributed computing to the network edge. It's all about creating a functional buffer between the cloud and on-premises IT, because the cloud isn't always available to everybody at all times and connectivity can be iffy, especially in far-away locations.

This buffer is based on localized nodes that are now more powerful and storage-capacious than they were only a few years ago. It is the convergence of these new-gen servers, storage, network pipelines, devices and processors at the heart of everything that is enabling this important new layer of IT across the globe.

Turns out lots of other people and companies also agree with this idea. One thing led to another, and now there is an industry group, the 2-year-old OpenFog Consortium, which held its first-ever conference: the Fog World Congress, a modest-size gathering (about 400 attendees) Oct. 30 and 31 at the Marriott in Santa Clara, Calif.

To obtain a brief but high-level explanation of this new corner of techdom, eWEEK on Oct. 30 interviewed Dr. Tao Zhang, a distinguished engineering fellow at Cisco Systems and co-founder and board member of the OpenFog Consortium.

eWEEK will publish a more specific definition and "deeper dive" look at the growing trend of fog computing shortly. In the meantime, view this video.