Government agencies will eventually move from cloud to ‘fog’ computing

The cloud may still seem like a relatively new, advanced concept for some, but the technology has been in wide-use for several years now. Numerous government agencies have already made significant progress toward achieving cloud integration, with many others moving quickly in this direction.

In the not-so-distant future, though, the nature of the cloud may evolve, demanding a new approach from federal agencies. As FedScoop reported, some experts predict that cloud computing will eventually morph into something called "fog computing."

A cloud shift
The source noted that while cloud computing continues to grow more popular, with millions of users leveraging the technology for an increasing variety of purposes, a tremendous amount of pressure is being put on global networks' bandwidths. Most notably, mobile devices around the world are relying more on cloud-based applications. This state of affairs will eventually prove unsupportable, creating the need for a new approach to the cloud.

A possible solution to this problem may be the development of fog computing, also known as "edge computing." As the news source explained, cloud-based data, applications and processing power are moved closer to end-users in order to maximize efficiency.

Grace Lewis, a senior member of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, recently spoke at a federal cloud computing summit to highlight her team's efforts to develop an approach that takes advantage of fog computing, the news source reported. She explained that by "cyberforaging," mobile devices can potentially identify and make use of the most convenient cloud computing resources available.

Baby clouds
Another possible approach, Lewis explained, may be the development of "baby clouds" or "cloudlets." These could take the form of wireless routers, traffic lights, cars or any number of other physical items, acting as intermediary hubs between users' mobile devices and the broader cloud services.

"If you think about the vision for cloudlets, it's this sensing interaction with mobile devices seamlessly, and sensing all the interactions … having all the benefits of mobile cloud computing, but it's much better because I have these little clouds that are close to me, where I can leverage all of their power," said Lewis, the news source reported.

This could improve performance and cut down on inefficiencies for cloud users.

The future of federal cloud integration
The rise of such solutions raises questions for the future of cloud computing within the federal government. According to John Messina, a computer scientist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, agencies will benefit from the development of fog computing and cloudlets.

"We will move toward a far more seamlessly integrated future and leave behind what we currently have," said Messina, the news source reported.

For this to happen, though, agency leaders must be prepared to adapt. Considering the progress made thus far toward achieving cloud integration, there is reason to believe that a more proactive stance is necessary to achieve an effective deployment of these and other cloud tools.