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Cloud vs. Fog Computing: What Should You Choose For Your Business Infrastructure?

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By: Teboub Islem

May 13, 2020

Nowadays, many enterprises rely on deploying their solutions on Cloud. The Cloud is a set of data centers that can be geographically dispersed. Clouds provide many services which can be distinguished by the following three points:

  • Software as a Service (SAAS): consists of deploying a software (ex: an application) directly reachable from the Internet.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): consists of deploying a set of devices (ex: routers, firewalls, IDS) reachable from the Internet.

  • IT as a Service (ITaaS): consists of providing IT support to conduct maintenance or troubleshooting of enterprise devices. To do that, the IT staff accesses devices remotely.

For optimization and Quality of Service (QoS) reasons, a local extension of the Cloud can be established closer to enterprise networks. The mutual operations emanating from/to this extension is called Fog computing.


But, what is the impact of choosing Cloud or Fog computing? Also, what are the reasons which can be considered to prefer one solution over another?

In terms of cost, deployment, and maintenance: In the case of Cloud-based solutions, the deployment and maintenance are assured by the Cloud provider. So, the cost of these types of solutions is relative to the subscription (monthly, annual) and the degree of services.

In the case of Fog based solutions, deployment, and maintenance costs should be considered. This is because the price is relative to the deployment (machine room/datacenter planning, installation of devices).

In terms of availability: In the case of Cloud-based solutions, the availability depends on the level of services required from the provider. In return, the availability issues can be caused by the Internet, also known as inter-ISP (Internet Service Provider) issues. In this case, the problem goes beyond the Cloud provider’s responsibility.

In the case of Fog based solutions, availability is the enterprise’s concern, when the Fog is her proprietary, which is the general use case. Availability concerns reachability to the Fog, the availability of devices used (Hardware), and the availability of the services (Software).

In terms of scalability and storage capacity: The Cloud services are generally implemented in large, dedicated data centers composed of millions of computing systems. So, the scalability and storage capacity should not be a problem for the business.

The Fog computing investment is relatively lower in terms of computing device numbers or datacenter surface, which implicates a limitation of scalability and storage capacity. However, the scalability and storage capacity can be insured horizontally by a distributed approach, using different Fog points.

In terms of QoS (Quality of Service): Generally, the QoS measure is relative to bandwidth dedicated to communication establishments and the latency of data transmission. In this case, the lower the distance between two communication points is, the more the QoS is ensured (while the bandwidth is stable).

Traffic to the Cloud is feasible only via the Internet. While traffic to the Fog is feasible locally or via private WAN (Wide Area Network). As a result, Fog computing is more suitable for QoS concerns.

In terms of processing efficiency: By definition, the Fog is a local extension of the Cloud, which permits to perform processing of relatively small data or machine learning techniques. This is in contrast to the Cloud, which is responsible for the treatment and processing of Big Data and also performs analyses issued from Artificial Intelligence technologies.

In terms of security: The security field is critical within all enterprise networks. It’s crucial to maintain security policies and cybersecurity vision for protecting data when deploying any business infrastructure.

In the case of Cloud-based solutions, security is the customer’s responsibility. However, the Cloud provider can deploy a security infrastructure depending on the client’s demand. The security infrastructure is limited to the service contract between the provider and the client. But, it’s important to note that the solutions used are those which can typically be implemented on worldwide networks.

On the other hand, Fog lets a business use their proprietary solutions, and lets them choose the methodology used for countermeasures and protection of their data.

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