Resources / Insights

April 12, 2016

Fog is spreading

LCanavan 2015 (002)
By Lynne Canavan
Executive Director, OpenFog Consortium

Growing up, I spent my summers in a small cottage on the coast of Maine.  I knew all about fog – all types of fog.  Sometimes the fog would gradually drift in.  At other times, thick fogbanks descended quickly, obliterating everything in sight.  Fog was inevitable. Unstoppable.  Powerful.

Fast forward to today, when I’m immersed in a different kind of fog here at the OpenFog Consortium.  This version, called fog computing, is just as inevitable and powerful.  And in today’s digital world, that’s good news for enterprises.

The Internet of Things is transformational, but there is a missing link between concept and execution, caused by limitations under the current cloud computing models.  While cloud-only works well in some scenarios, it leaves a gap in others which require an infrastructure that can span the continuum from cloud to device.  And that’s where fog computing comes in.

Some scenarios – smart transportation, emergency services, robotics and virtual reality, to name a few – need fog computing for rapid response time (<millisecond).  In remote locations, fog computing ensures continual operations, when network connectively can be challenging.  On billions of devices, fog computing saves network bandwidth by shifting computation closer to the devices.

Enabling these and other advanced IoT scenarios are the focus of the work of the OpenFog Consortium.  Our members are solving technical challenges around the eight pillars of an OpenFog architecture: Security, scalability, openness, autonomy, reliability/availability/serviceability, agility, hierarchy and programmability.

This week, we announced expansion initiatives on a number of fronts to help accelerate and enable fog computing on a global basis.  Our affiliation with IEEE around fog networking concepts will lead to new approaches and standards.  Leaders from GE Digital, Schneider Electric and IEEE have joined our Board of Directors, providing additional expertise and focus that will benefit our Architecture workgroup as it develops an OpenFog architecture.  The Japan country team will explore robotics and machine learning concepts in fog computing.  And the 17 additional member organizations are pioneering new fog-based approaches and deliverables to help solve the challenges ahead.

On the near horizon, OpenFog members will gather at Princeton University, May 17-18, for our second members meeting.  There we will listen to a keynote from Flavio Bonomi, founder of Nebbiolo Technology, who coined the term fog computing while at Cisco.   Denny Strigl, former president and chief operating officer of Verizon Communications, will present viewpoints on fog computing from a network operator’s perspective.  Panels of government agencies and academics will provide insight into research and funding opportunities.  And, importantly, our members will use the week to network with each other and to progress advances in the OpenFog architecture, use cases, and more.

It’s a veritable fogbank of activity.

About the author:  Lynne Canavan is the Executive Director for the OpenFog Consortium, the global organization founded by ARM, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Princeton University Edge Laboratory in November 2015.  She oversees membership, marketing, operations and growth of the organization.  Previously, she was Vice President, Program Management for the Industrial Internet Consortium, where as its first employee, she led the organization from its founding in 2014 to 200+ member companies within 15 months.  Lynne spent 17 years at IBM in its Global Alliances division, where she worked with the company’s largest partners including Oracle, Avaya and Schneider Electric.  She can be reached at


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