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In contrast to classical wireless sensor networks (WSN) that usually only serve a single application, one of the core benefits of the shift to the IoT lies in the common usage of sensor hardware by heterogeneous applications (Tschofenig et al., 2015). Additionally, the revolution of the IoT does not stem from the number of connected things alone, but from the solutions and services offered on top of the data. The basic requirements of such value-added services can be briefly summarized into nonvolatile storage of historical sensor data, sensor data processing, and efficient near-real-time distribution of sensor data. However, although everyday objects are increasingly connected to the Internet and becoming more and more powerful, they are usually not capable enough to fulfill all those requirements themselves. One of the major challenges is that commonly used devices, such as sensor nodes, smartphones, and wearable techs, usually run on battery power, making storage or complex processing of a large amount of data unfeasible. Mains-operated connected objects may also often be too constrained to perform those tasks as reliably and quickly as required.
Cloud-based services are increasingly used to assist constrained IoT devices with storage and processing. The cloud offers various advantages in the IoT domain, including the flexible on-demand availability of resources, fast and reliable networking, and a multitude of hosted services ready to be used. While the benefits of cloud computing in the IoT context are evident by the vast adoption seen in existing systems, the main shortcoming is the position of cloud datacenters, which are often several hops away from data producers and consumers. Data usually have to pass a constraint link between data producers and the cloud and between the cloud and data consumers. This link adds additional delay and may limit the amount of data that can be transmitted. Over the next few years, fog computing will increasingly help to tackle those shortcomings by introducing cloud-like resources closer to the user.