OpenFog combines forces with Industrial Internet Consortium

At the most basic level, fog computing can be considered the layer between the edge and the cloud. (FierceWireless)

With intentions to accelerate the adoption of the industrial internet of things, fog and edge computing, the OpenFog Consortium (OFC) and the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) are joining forces.

The two organizations said they agreed in principle to combine their efforts and expect more details to be finalized early next year. For the foreseeable future, the organization will be identified as the “IIC, now incorporating OpenFog,” according to IIC President Bill Hoffman. 

“We think this is just a natural fit going forward,” Hoffman told FierceWirelessTech. “There’s no reason for us both to work in overlapping areas when we have some degree in overlapping membership and we are pretty much trying to solve the same problems to some degree.”

IIC was formed in 2014 and OFC in late 2015, and while both are relatively young, they have been instrumental in driving progress in the IoT, transforming the narrative from confusion to real progress and value, according to Christian Renaud, research vice president for IoT at 451 Research. “Both consortia share a pragmatic approach of developing specifications and testbeds and aligning the interests of a diverse set of stakeholders from throughout the broader community,” he said in a blog

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IIC has some 29 test beds spanning everything from manufacturing to precision agriculture and intelligent transportation systems, and fog computing is a big part of those test beds. “Incorporating OpenFog into our working groups is going to be a big, big win for the IIC,” Hoffman said.

Matt Vasey, chairman and president of the OpenFog Consortium and director for artificial intelligence and IoT business development at Microsoft, echoed his comments. “It seemed like we were going to the same location and we could get there a lot quicker together,” Vasey told FierceWirelessTech.

OpenFog has made a lot of progress through the IEEE with a standard called 1934, and the next logical step is to take the standardization work and build out test beds to show the market how these technologies will work together and drive improvements, Vasey said.

The IIC’s marketing skills will also help drive fog computing further. IIC’s IoT Solutions World Congress that was held in Barcelona in October drew more than 16,200 people and 341 exhibitors. Attendees can expect next year's event will include a lot more fog-related content, Hoffman said. 

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The overall intent is to bring the market from a nascent stage into a more commercial market. “We still think in many cases, there’s more money chasing the Industrial IoT than there is being made in it,” Hoffman said. The combination is a way to help develop the ecosystem, which will benefit not only vendors and consultants but end users as well, he said.