News Column

The cloud is not enough; now here comes the fog

May 30, 2014

by Jean-Claude Elias | May 29, 2014 | 23:23

Can you tell the difference between fog and cloud? If you're thinking in weather terms you're missing the point, for we're talking IT here.

The cloud we all know it by now. It's where we store our data externally, not on our local hard disk or memory card, but on some server's storage area on the Internet. It's also where we are invited, and rather aggressively, to work and run applications instead of installing them on our computing device.

The vast majority of us, especially smart phone owners, do use cloud storage and applications, though there are still significant parts of the population who do not trust external storage and processing and prefer to keep their information and programmes locally on their computer, tablet or smart phone.

However, regardless of who trusts the cloud and who doesn't, or what is the proportion of cloud users versus purely die-hard local users, some of the technical shortcomings of the cloud concept have led IT specialists to think of intermediary solutions. One of them is the fog. Why the fog and what does it do?

The main weakness of the cloud is Internet bandwidth, or speed in simpler terms. If you're working on a regular MS-Word document, processing typical e-mail messages or even photos at small or medium resolution, then there is no issue at all, for storing and retrieving such files over the cloud is fast enough. Whether working at your desk with a powerful Internet connection or from your smart phone at a gym via slower 3G connection, you will not experience any significant slowness with such file sizes.

For larger files, be it high definition audiovisual material, substantial e-mail attachments, or entire data backup sets, the cloud becomes a handicap, and only because of somewhat limited Internet speed, not because of the very concept of the IT cloud.

To overcome this shortcoming IT gurus are now thinking of a system that lets you send-receive digital files intended for the cloud on a set of nearby digital devices, before they are sent to the cloud afterwards. Since we're literally surrounded with various digital computer-like devices of all kinds today and with various connectivity channels (WiFi, fast cable networks, fibre optics, Bluetooth, etc.) the nearby devices will provide a faster means to send-receive data, therefore eliminating the "bottleneck" of limited Internet bandwidth.

It is not just the nearness of the devices that will play an important role in accelerating the data transfer process but also the fact that data will be distributed over these devices before being gathered again.

Now, how the process that consists of sending-receiving files to a set nearby devices works, how data is spread or split over several of these nearby devices, and how it is then send consolidated for good in the cloud this is what the fog idea is about. Again, it is an intermediate state between your local digital device and the cloud, hence the name. The image is clear, between the ground and the clouds there's fog.

It is all very new and we haven't seen it working yet, but everything indicates that it will soon play a tangible role in our living with the various digital devices, with smart phones and tablets mainly, for this is the kind of equipment that will benefit most from such an intermediary solution that will certainly come to boost their overall performance when communicating with external storage areas.

The fog is a term recently proposed by Cisco, the leading maker of routers, firewalls and other digital technology and security communication devices.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Jordan Times, The

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