Removing the biggest barrier to quantum adoption: accessibility
Quantum computing promises to solve some of humanity's most pressing challenges, such as accelerating drug discovery and tackling climate change. Its potential to revolutionize various industries and business operations is undeniable: harnessing the principles of quantum mechanics provides computing power far greater than that of today's most advanced supercomputers.
However, the adoption of quantum computing in the real world is still in its early stages. Quantum computers are mainly found in research labs, and their application in the business world remains limited due to how inaccessible quantum computers still are. The accessibility barrier stems from high costs, technical complexity and a steep learning curve, making it challenging for companies to embrace quantum computing.
If quantum computing is to reach its full potential, this must change. By going beyond the laboratory, companies can get the most out of this technology even as it matures. It also allows them to focus on upskilling their teams, building internal capabilities and knowledge transfer. How can we move quantum computing from labs to commercial environments and what are considerations for companies looking to adopt this breakthrough technology?
Why and how can quantum computers benefit businesses?
The essence of quantum computing lies in its ability to process information differently than classical computers. Classical computers (the ones we have now) process data using units of information known as bits. Bits can only exist in one state at a time, which we represent as 0 or 1.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits, which can exist in multiple states at the same time. This capability enables much faster and more complex calculations. From a business perspective, the potential benefits of quantum computing include faster and more efficient problem solving, advanced data analytics, advanced predictive analytics, and stronger encryption to protect sensitive business data. It also offers sector-specific competitive advantages.
For example, quantum computing can enable more accurate and detailed climate models, helping us better understand and tackle climate change and its impact on our planet.
In the pharmaceutical sector, quantum computing can minimize the time spent on complex research into new drugs because it can identify and construct molecules in minutes, potentially leading to life-changing results.
In banking and financial services, quantum computing has the potential to dramatically accelerate complex financial calculations, enabling real-time risk assessment and portfolio optimization. It can also greatly improve security, making financial transactions and data encryption much more secure against cyber threats.
Chief Technology Officer at Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC)
Sensitivity of quantum computers: from laboratories to reality
While it is clear that quantum computing will have a huge impact on the future of businesses, its inaccessibility has created a large gap between high expectations and limited real-world applications to date.
The incredible sensitivity of quantum computers is one of the biggest challenges in quantum computer adoption. They are sensitive to vibration, electrical noise and magnetic interference and require advanced cooling systems with temperatures as low as -273 degrees Celsius – colder than in space. These precise conditions are crucial for maintaining the fragile quantum states of qubits. As a result, quantum computers today exist mainly in the laboratories, where these conditions can be more easily met.
The transition from laboratory to commercial environments requires a business-oriented approach to system design. To democratize quantum computing and unlock its full potential, it must be seamlessly integrated into companies' existing computing, data management and IT infrastructure. As organizations worldwide adopt hybrid and multi-cloud strategies, the introduction of quantum computing in data centers – the backbone of cloud computing infrastructure – can completely transform their real-world applications.
Colocation data centers: key to unlocking the accessibility of quantum computing
However, not just any data center will do. You need a colocation center: a specific type of data center that rents space to a client company to store their infrastructure. It also offers the opportunity to manage and monitor services on their behalf.
This arrangement makes it possible to place different computing modalities and services together, promoting the ability to form safe ecosystems. This is especially valuable for companies with a large geographic footprint while offering a host of other benefits, such as the need for fewer internal technical staff, predictable costs, lower costs, easy scalability and exceptional reliability.
Colocation data centers, with their established networks, secure connections and robust, scalable infrastructure, are optimal environments to harness the power of quantum computing, enabling easy, user-friendly access that enables life-changing discoveries. Scaling up quantum computing goes beyond increasing the number of qubits on a chip; it is about meeting the practical requirements of companies. Deploying quantum computers in co-located data centers offers companies and organizations around the world the opportunity to expand their capabilities and actively engage in quantum technology.
Transitioning quantum computing from an R&D lab to a commercial environment obviously means overcoming unique challenges inherent to quantum devices. For example, the specific infrastructure requirements of quantum computers require a special power setup, advanced cooling systems and a vibration-isolating structure to limit the risks of quantum errors.
It's up to data centers and quantum companies like mine to make this a reality – and we're working on that. Quantum computing, once seen as inaccessible, is transcending the boundaries of laboratories and entering the realm of commercial data centers.
As talented scientists and engineers around the world break down the barriers to the democratization of quantum, companies that have not yet done so should start thinking about how they can integrate quantum computing into their data strategies, infrastructures and business plans. This is a crucial time to be part of something truly revolutionary and prepare for the quantum future that lies ahead.
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