Fog Computing Moves Toward Interoperability Standards

Reference architecture aims to define standard communications between the cloud and IoT devices, 5G technology, and emerging applications areas such as artificial intelligence.

Development of an open architecture, fog computing environment, rather than relying on single vendor implementations, is a vital step in the emergence of standards that will enable interoperability between the IoT, 5G, and other complex data and network intensive applications spanning from artificial intelligence, tactile Internet, and virtual reality.

At least that is the premise behind an industry consortium effort to champion the development of an OpenFog Reference Architecture (RA). The idea is that a commitment to develop cooperative, open, and interoperative fog systems will help accelerate the advanced deployments required for applications such as smart cities, smart energy, smart transportation, smart healthcare and smart manufacturing.  The goal is to describe requirements that will apply to every part of the fog supply chain from component manufacturers, system vendors, software providers, and application developers.

 

OpenFog RA
The OpenFog reference architecture enables greater efficiency and economic realities of smart city operations. Applications include, but not limited to, intelligent cities with smart parking, shopping, and infrastructure; intelligent hospitals linking all aspects for greater patient care and healthcare delivery; intelligent highway systems to optimize utilization of infrastructure; and intelligent factories and software defined industrial systems.

 

Fog Computing Offers Critical Link

One way to think about fog computing is that it provides the missing link in the continuum from the industrial cloud and the Internet of Things. New networking architectures are critical for today’s connected world as they aim to enable low latency, reliable operation and remove the need for persistent cloud connectivity.

Successfully implemented fog architectures will selectively move compute, storage, communication, control and decision-making closer to the network edge where data is being generated. This will help solve limitations in current infrastructures and enable mission-critical, data-dense use cases. The OpenFog Consortium’s definition of fog computing is “a horizontal, system-level architecture that distributes computing, storage, control and networking functions closer to the users along a cloud-to-thing continuum.”

Effective fog computing models move computation from the cloud closer to the edge of the network, and potentially directly to IoT sensors and actuators. Computational networking storage and acceleration elements, or fog nodes, provide a fluid system of connectivity and are not completely fixed to the physical edge.

Impact of Reference Architecture

The OpenFog Reference Architecture (OpenFog RA) is meant to be a medium- to high-level view of system architectures for fog nodes and networks. The group says it was created to help business leaders, software developers, silicon architects, and system designers create and maintain the hardware, software, and system elements necessary for fog computing including fog-to-cloud and fog-to-fog interfaces.

It describes a generic fog platform applicable to any vertical market or application to help provide business value for IoT applications that require real-time decision making, low latency, improved security, and especially for applications that are network-constrained.

The OpenFog RA defines a core set of principles called pillars meant to guide the definition of the reference architecture. These encompass the key attributes that a system needs to embody the OpenFog definition of a horizontal, system-level architecture that distributes computing, storage, control, and networking resources closer to the data source for more effective cloud-to-thing network solutions.

Looking forward, the goal of the OpenFog Consortium is to publish additional details and guidance on this architecture, specify APIs for key interfaces, and work with standards organizations such as IEEE on recommended standards. According to the group, the OpenFog technical community is working on a suite of follow-on specifications, development of testbeds and address new use cases to enable component-level interoperability. The end goal is that, eventually, this will lead to certification of industry elements and systems, based on compliance to the OpenFog RA.

To access the complete OpenFog RA document, visit the OpenFog website.

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