Multi-access edge computing (MEC) and fog computing are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Fog computing is actually a superset of MEC. Let’s take an in-depth look at both definitions to fully understand the difference between MEC and fog computing.
What’s the Difference between MEC and Fog Computing? Definitions
MEC refers to computing at the edge of a network. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) description of MEC is that it “offers IT service and cloud-computing capabilities at the edge of the mobile network in an environment that is characterized by proximity, ultra-low latency, and high bandwidth. Furthermore, it provides exposure to a real-time radio network and context information.”
The edge of the network is not isolated to mobile networks. It may also be found at other base points, including, but not limited to, cell towers, data centers, WiFi, and hotspots. The edge of a network is physically closer to end users than the cloud. The near proximity reduces latency to milliseconds and provides users with a consistent connection.
Fog computing extends the edge of the network. It’s not as close but it covers more area than the edge. The OpenFog 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 Thing.” Fog computing shares similar benefits to edge computing including low latency, storage-focused, and real-time analytics.
The confusion that arises with the difference between the edge and fog computing stems from the fact that they work together to achieve similar goals for the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology and the optimization of the 5G network.
What’s the Difference Between MEC and Fog Computing? Key Differences
- OpenFog Consortium’s executive director Lynne Canavan listed the main differences between MEC and Fog computing for SDxCentral:
- Fog covers mobile and wireline
- Fog covers the edge but also intermediate layers between the edge and the cloud
- MEC standards are mostly compute oriented, while Fog embraces storage and deep packet networking.
- Fog computing has a deeper hierarchy than MEC; MEC’s hierarchy features a single layer of nodes or base transceiver station.
- Fog computing focuses more on privacy and security
- Fog includes the cloud; the edge does not.
- Fog’s architecture, as mentioned by the OpenFog Consortium, is broader than MEC’s.
- Fog network nodes extend the edge of a network.