Cloud computing vs fog computing vs edge computing in the Industrial Internet of Things

The rapid development of mobile applications and Internet-of-things (IoT) paradigm-based applications has brought several challenges to the development of cloud-based solutions. These challenges are mainly due to i) the transfer of huge amounts of data to the cloud, ii) high communication latencies and iii) the inability of this model to respond in some domains that require a rapid reaction to events.


Increased awareness in industrial environments such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has led organizations to rethink their infrastructures by adopting cloud, fog, and edge computing architectures. These architectures allow them to take advantage of a multitude of computing and data storage resources.


Cloud, fog, and edge computing may look very similar terms, but they have some differences, functioning as different layers on the IIoT horizon that complement each other.

Industrial IoT data Processing layer Stack

Source of image: Winsystems

Cloud computing

Cloud computing can be defined as a model for the provision and use of Information and Communication Technologies, which allows remote access over the internet to a range of shared computing resources in the form of services.

This computer system can be divided into two parts: frontend (client devices) and backend (servers); while the models for computing service delivery are divided into three: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS);  “Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS); and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Adopting these architectures brings benefits to organizations, from performance, availability, scalability, communication between IoT sensors and processing systems, and increased storage and processing capabilities.

Fog computing

In turn, fog computing was a term coined by Cisco in 2014 as a means of bringing cloud computing capabilities closer to the network. It is a decentralized computing architecture where data, communications, storage, and applications are distributed between the data source and the cloud. That is, it is a horizontal architecture that shares resources and services stored anywhere in the cloud to Internet of Things devices.

In a very brief and simplified way, fog computing will be the fog layer below the cloud layer, managing the connections between the cloud and the network edge.

The big difference between fog computing and cloud computing is that it is a centralized system while the former is a distributed decentralized infrastructure. In the following table, a comparison is presented.

Table – Comparation Cloud and Fog Computing

Cloud Fog
Architecture centralized distributed
Data processing
far from the source of information close to the source of information
Computing capabilities
bigger smaller
Analysis long therm short therm
Latency high low
Conectivity internet various protocols and standards
Security weaker strongest


Edge computing

Edge computing is on the “border” of the network. This architecture can bring data source processing even closer without having to be sent to a remote cloud or other centralized systems for processing. This improves the speed and performance of data transport as well as devices and applications by eliminating the distance and time to send data to centralized sources.

The main difference between edge computing and fog computing lies in where the processing takes place. Edge computing occurs directly on the devices where the sensors are placed, or on a gateway that is physically close to the sensors.


The advantages of edge computing then lie in optimizing the connection and improving response time. Security is also enhanced, with data encryption occurring closer to the core of the network.


However, edge computing has a more limited scope of action, referring to individual and predefined instances of processing that occur at network ends.

In practice, fog computing always uses edge computing, a solution that complements cloud computing. However, edge computing may or may not use fog computing. Also, fog computing typically includes the cloud, while the edge does not.

The power of computing in business

The Industrial Internet of Things is a growing industry that requires more efficient ways to manage data transmission and processing.

Enterprises can, therefore, compare and combine cloud, fog, and edge computing capabilities to take full advantage of emerging opportunities and unlock the true potential of today’s technologies.


The deployment of cloud, fog or edge computing technologies to correctly process information from IoT devices enhances their digital transformation towards industry 4.0, a wave that is already happening in the global world.

CCG’s cloud, fog and edge computing work areas

Through the Applied Research Domain EPMQ (“IT Engineering Process Maturity and Quality”), and led scientifically by Prof. Ricardo J. Machado, Prof. Helena Rodrigues and Prof. João Pedro Mendonça, CCG develops market solutions primarily related to Information Systems Engineering, Software Prototyping and Productization and Services, Software Systems Architectures, Cloud, Fog and Edge Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and Service-Oriented Architecture.

Learn about the solutions that CCG makes available to the market:

  • Services at the level of information system architectures;
  • Design and Development of IT Interoperability Architectures, namely Cloud, Fog and Edge Computing service architectures.

Check the CCG scientific publications that focus on the theme:

  1. Cloud computing -> “Transition from Information Systems to Service-oriented Logical Architectures: Formalizing Steps and Rules with QVT”, in Requirements Engineering for Service and Cloud Computing.”
  2. Cloud, Fog and Edge computing -> “Specifying Software Services for Fog Computing Architectures using Recursive Model Transformations
  3. Industrial Internet of Things -> “Systems Development for the Industrial Internet of Things: Challenges from Industry R&D Projects

Review our experience in projects such as UH4SP: Unified Hub for Smart Plants or PRODUTECH-SIF: Soluções para a Indústria do Futuro.

Contact us to maximize the potential of your products or services.