“The Fog” Creates a Smarter Wireless Network

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

In between your smart phone and the Cloud there’s a whole lot of multi-service edge space that Flavio Bonomi, Cisco Fellow, VP, Head, Advanced Architecture and Research calls the Fog. This is where 3 and 4G, LTE and Wifi live.
Flavio Bonomi, Cisco Fellow, VP, Head, Advanced Architecture and Research[/caption]Like the cloud, only closer to the ground, Bonomi believes the fog provides a layer of connectivity and opportunity for network building that the current wireless infrastructure lacks. It fills in the gap in The Internet of Things.
“It is the internet of everything, people and things and cyberphysical systems…it is an infrastructure for communicating, computing and storage, converging toward a common infrastructure.”
Bonomi was the keynote speaker at Austin Technology Incubator’s Texas Wireless Summit at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at UT Friday. He spoke passionately of the convergence of IP and Mobile networks, of industrial and enterprise networks with applications including smart cities whose buildings have networked security, electricity and water systems; smart automobiles connected with a city’s traffic light system and with other autos so if a traffic accident happens a quarter of a mile in front of you, you are alerted and can react in time. In fact, your car would become a fully networked “data center on wheels.”
The key is to have a system that’s closer to the devices themselves, closer to the ground, like fog.
“You cannot control a building from the cloud,” he said. “When connectivity goes down, you’re dead.”
Instead, the fog must optimize the efficiency of wireless links and leverage heterogeneous access links to strengthen connectivity in highly flaky environments. There must be seamless mobility solutions. And, in the case of transportation, the fog would employ Location Identity Separation Protocol so your IP address would remain the same wherever you were.
Bonomi hopes to install roadside computing on the traffic lights themselves to enable what he calls multi-hop networking. This would require packets of data to travel shorter distances and reduce latency. This and other systems using 3G and 4G technology would also foster deterministic networking instead of reactive networking. Smart machines would move from one hub to the next like a spider rather than constantly searching for networks to connect to.
Similar systems would be set up along train routes and on the ground below well traveled air routes.
Bonomi’s vision depends on many factors, not the least of which is advancement of existing wireless technologies which would have to increase in sophistication before being fully deployable for the networks where they would be needed. But the opportunities to create new applications in a more seamlessly networked world where the data was closer to the ground could produce a whole new vibrant layer in the ecosystem of wireless.

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