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This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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Edge, Fog, and Cloud Computing: What’s the Difference?

Edge, fog, and cloud are crucial computing frameworks that can empower businesses to thrive in today’s advanced technological ecosystem.

Cloud computing comprises the delivery of computing services, including data storage, servers, networking, analytics, and intelligence over the Internet. 

On the other hand, fog computing extends cloud computing and services to the edge of an enterprise’s network, enabling real-time data analysis and decision-making. Besides, edge computing takes this functionality a notch higher. It processes data directly on devices at the source, ensuring high operational speed and efficiency.

When leveraged smartly, these computing frameworks can empower businesses to boost operational efficiency and foster accurate decision-making, ultimately accelerating revenue marketing efforts.  

The outcome? Seamless business operations and positive ROI. 

In this post, we will understand the concepts of edge, fog, and cloud computing and their key differences.

Let’s get started.

What is Could Computing?

Deploying physical servers and other technological infrastructure can take weeks or even months. Besides, businesses require a physical space and a technical expert to ensure sufficient power and working and management of the systems. 

In short, the process can be complicated to scale, specifically during the business expansion phase. Cloud computing addresses these challenges by providing computing resources as scalable, on-demand services.

Cloud-based storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox that allow saving, accessing, and sharing files online are excellent examples of cloud computing in action. These services enable users to upload crucial documents to the cloud and access them from any device. The service providers ensure data security while end users pay for storage space.

However, a key challenge in cloud computing is dealing with network latency and high bandwidth utilization, specifically while processing data remotely. This can lead to delays for applications demanding real-time responses.

What is Fog Computing?

It is a decentralized computing framework that involves processing data closer to its source. This helps reduce network latency and foster real-time decision-making. In this computing infrastructure, data, storage, and applications are located between the data source and the cloud. 

What’s more? Fog addresses bandwidth issues that occur in cloud computing.

For instance, in applications like IoT (Internet of Things), fog computing enables stakeholders to perform real-time data analysis at the device level. This eradicates the need to send data to the cloud and improves efficiency.

A key challenge in fog computing is achieving efficient data analysis and processing at the edge of a decentralized network.

What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that enables localized data processing and analytics. It brings enterprise applications close to data sources such as local edge servers or IoT devices. 

This reduces the strain on centralized fog nodes. The outcome? Enhanced response times, better bandwidth availability, and higher operational efficiency than cloud and fog computing.

Some of the most common use cases of edge computing include autonomous robots that allow making real-time decisions, healthcare equipment that enables real-time data processing of valuable insights, and automated retail that helps optimize inventory for seamless customer experiences.

Key Differences Between Cloud, Fog, and Edge Computing

Below are the key differences between cloud, fog, and edge computing.

 1. Data Processing Location

The primary difference between the three computing frameworks is their data processing location. 

  • Cloud Computing: Here, data is processed on a central cloud server, often located far from its source. The processing occurs on cloud services like Amazon E2C instances.
  • Fog Computing: The data is processed within the fog nodes or an IoT gateway in the local area network (LAN).
  • Edge Computing: The data is processed on the device or sensor itself. It does not require shifting to any other location.

2. Processing Power and Storage Capability

Cloud computing provides far more advanced and better processing technological capabilities than fog and edge frameworks. It allows you to save more data than the other two with limited processing power.

The processing power and storage ability of edge computing is the least among the three.

 

3. Goals 

Cloud computing framework is most suitable for long-term, in-depth data analysis. 

On the other hand, edge, and fog computing frameworks are best suited if your business offers applications that require quick responses for accurate decision-making in real-time. 

 

4. Internet Connectivity Requirement 

Cloud computing needs 24/7 internet access for its operations, while the rest of the two can operate without internet access. 

So, edge and fog computing are best suited for use cases where the IoT sensors may not have the best internet speed. 

 

5. Data Security

In fog computing, information is distributed among nodes. So, it’s not easy to manipulate valuable data compared to cloud computing with centralized data processing. 

However, using the cloud computing framework would require a security system to safeguard your data against potential cyber threats. For instance, you might need to deploy cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) software to analyze and resolve potential vulnerabilities and entry points in computing infrastructures. 

In edge computing, the data stays on the device. This makes it highly secure compared to cloud and fog computing. There’s no need to have an additional cybersecurity device. 

Overall, fog and edge computing are highly secure compared to the cloud. So, if data security is your top priority, opt for edge and fog.

 

6. Installation and Management  

Edge and fog computing can be more costly than traditional cloud computing, specifically if you are a small business (SMB) in the early phase. Deploying and setting distributed computing nodes, checking hardware compatibility, and handling resources require resources and can lead to upfront costs.

On the other hand, cloud computing offers centralized data management and pay-as-you-go models. This makes it an easy-to-implement and cost-efficient option for businesses, specifically SMBs.

Summing Up

All three computing frameworkscloud, fog, and edge offer unique benefits to businesses depending on their requirements. Cloud computing can be great if you provide applications that don’t require real-time responses. 

Besides, edge and fog computing can be great when you require quick decision-making with enhanced security, as shared in this post. The crux? Analyze and decide what framework fits your needs for the best business outcomes. So, go ahead and make the right choice!

Lucy Manole
Lucy Manole
Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Marketing Digest. She specializes in writing about social media, email marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and much more. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking, and traveling.

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