Last November, I was proud to represent Cisco as we joined with five other founding companies and academic organizations to form the OpenFog Consortium. We knew the time was right to accelerate the deployment of fog technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT).
The time was right indeed. We caught a groundswell of interest, and are picking up steam.
Already, we have more than 40 members—well on track to meet our goal of 50 members in the first year. GE Digital and Schneider Electric have joined our Board of Directors. Toshiba became our first member from Japan and is participating, along with SAKURA Internet, Fujitsu, NTT Communications, and several other organizations, in our first country team focused on regional initiatives.
And momentum continues to build. Just this month we welcomed several new members, including AT&T and five companies from Japan and Taiwan.
Why this early success? I think it has to do with our unique approach, from two perspectives:
The first element is embedded in our very name: Open. We have deliberately adopted an open, collaborative working style as we cooperate with other industry groups working on fog architectures, standards, and frameworks. We do not want to compete with existing organizations, or duplicate their efforts. We’re taking a synergistic approach that both leverages the work of other consortia and contributes our work back to them. We have formed a liaison agreement with the OPC Foundation and are in discussions with many others. It’s actually very easy to tie in with these other organizations because many of our members are also involved in these other bodies. And we have affiliations with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE has a representative on our Board to work with us on standards that might arise from our open fog architectural framework.
The second important element is our open horizontal architectural approach. Most existing consortia and standards bodies focus on specific vertical or technical aspects of fog computing—IIC has an industrial IoT focus, and Mobile Edge Computing targets devices at the edge, for example. Our aim is to provide a broad, multi-vertical, cloud-to-thing perspective that connects and aligns with the work of other groups. The OpenFog Consortium has several working groups that are focusing on pieces that overlap and interact with the work of other groups. We want to bring together all of this good work and fill in the gap to create a flexible and modular end-to-end architectural framework.
Figure 1. OpenFog Consortium takes a broad, holistic view of the cloud-to-thing continuum.
As Chair of the OpenFog Consortium, I am extremely pleased to see how this work is coming together, and how it is being embraced by major industry players, startups, and academic institutions alike. We are working to release our first OpenFog Reference Architecture in September, just in time for our next members’ meeting in Austin, September 27-28. We now have a global footprint that has validated the growing market confidence in the necessity of a fog computing approach. We will continue to grow and expand as IoT deployments become more dependent on integrated cloud to fog capabilities. If your organization is working in complex or mission-critical IoT, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, or other advanced digital scenarios, I invite you to be part of this effort.
I hope to see you in Austin!