OpenFog Consortium welcomes more carrier input as it collaborates with ETSI

fog (pixabay)
Fog computing is designed to bring compute, control, storage and networking closer to where data is being generated.

The head of the OpenFog Consortium wants wireless operators to know they're welcome to join a diverse group of people to validate or help shape their assumptions about fog computing.

There are a lot of "open" groups out there and OpenFog is a relatively new and growing one, but it would like to see more carrier involvement.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for them [operators] to actually come in and work with a diverse group of perspectives and perhaps validate some of their assumptions or help shape some of their assumptions,” said Helder Antunes, chairman of the OpenFog Consortium and senior director for the Corporate Strategic Innovation Group at Cisco. “This is a tremendous opportunity to come and join us and help us define what this looks like.”  

The consortium was an idea that Antunes had along with Professor Mung Chiang of Princeton at the time, who is now the Dean of Purdue’s School of Engineering, and Dr. Tao Zhang, a Cisco Distinguished Engineer and IEEE Fellow. They decided they needed a more horizontal organization to tackle the issues of the day.

“We thought someone needed to come and put together a group that would sort of look at the whole thing horizontally and piece everything together”—everything from the cloud to the very edge—in this case to the sensory level, Antunes told FierceWirelessTech.

Cisco formed the consortium along with Microsoft, Intel, ARM, Princeton University Edge Laboratory and Dell and launched it in November 2015. It’s now up to almost 60 companies and has a global presence. “We, from the get go, decided that we did not want to be a standards organization so we would collaborate with existing groups,” which is why there’s a strong affiliation with IEEE, for example, he said.

“Our approach to what we wanted to do architecturally was to be collaborative and to obviously leverage the tremendous amount of work that’s been done by other organizations,” he added.

ETSI and the OpenFog Consortium earlier this week announced they will collaborate to develop fog-enabled mobile edge applications and technologies. The two organizations recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the intent to benefit organizations working to develop 5G, mission-critical and data-dense applications through fog computing and networking and thus reduce technical overlap across the multitude of domains.

It made a lot of sense to collaborate with ETSI, and it validates not only work that ETSI has done but also the work that OpenFog published in February. “It made absolute sense for the organizations to sort of come together and collaborate rather than competing and reinventing the wheel,” he said. “The timing is perfect.”

Specifically, OpenFog will work with the ETSI Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) Industry Specification Group (ISG). The two organizations will cooperate on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) standardization and interoperability requirements by sharing and applying selected technical work in process. 

OpenFog is also working with other industry groups. “It’s very important” to be open and collaborative, Antunes said, noting a lot of the members of OpenFog are part of these other groups.

The consortium defines fog computing as a system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control and networking anywhere along the continuum from cloud to things.

The term “fog” was coined years ago by Flavio Bonomi, a former Cisco Fellow who now is the founder and CEO of Nebbiolo. It was a simple concept: there’s the cloud, with some of the basic elements of computing, storage and networking being brought closer down to the edge, therefore, a low-hanging cloud, or fog, Antunes explained.

OpenFog Consortium in February released the OpenFog Reference Architecture (RA), a universal technical framework designed to enable the data-intensive requirements of the IoT, 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. The RA marks a significant first step toward creating the standards necessary to enable high-performance, interoperability and security in complex digital transactions, the group said.

Dubbed the first conference on fog computing, Fog World Congress will be held in Santa Clara, California, on Oct. 30-Nov. 1.