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Over the past year quantum computing has started moving from the realm of computer science and research into something that enterprises might be able to use in the workplace. In fact, the emergence of quantum computing in the cloud has excited curiosity among tech buyers who are now looking at practical applications for this kind of computing.

Quantum Computing Adoption

Tech buyers are not the only ones that are looking at it either. Recent research from IDC points to the fact that behind this interest is the fact that quantum computing offers organizations the possibility of improved AI capabilities, accelerated business intelligence, and increased productivity and efficiency.

The research, entitled Quantum Computing Adoption Trends: 2020 Survey Findings (behind paywall) says that while cloud-based quantum computing is a young market, and allocated funds for quantum computing initiatives are limited (0-2% of IT budgets), end-users are optimistic that early investment will result in a competitive advantage.

There are number of industries that are particularly interested in it, among them manufacturing, financial services and security industries are all experimenting with more potential use cases, developing advanced prototypes, and are further along in their implementation status. However, complex technology, skillset limitations, lack of available resources, and cost is deterring some organizations from investing in quantum computing technology.

The rise of quantum computing has not gone unnoticed by investors who have been sniffing around cutting edge companies that are currently developing new ways to enable enterprise access quantum computing. Take Berkeley Calif.-based Rigetti Computing.Founded in 2013 by Chad Rigetti, it has made its quantum computers available over the cloud since 2017, and recently raised $71 million in a recent funding round for the company’s future development.

Through its Quantum Cloud Services (QCS) platform, its machines can be integrated into any public, private or hybrid cloud. In a recent interview Michael Brett, senior vice president of applications at Rigetti, pointed out that over the past two years the number of companies providing access to quantum computers has gone from two (IBM and Rigetti) to many more.

However, in recent months this has been transformed by the entry of big cloud vendors. Rigetti for example has a deal with AWS to use its cloud compute time. Microsoft Azure offers a similar service, and other cloud players are expected to follow. This not only opens a more efficient array of computing, but it changes the market dynamics: “AWS is both an aggregator and a distributor of quantum compute, as well as a provider of software tools to help developers,” Brett told DigiFin.

Related Article: Quantum Computing: Challenges, Trends and the Road Ahead

Quantum Developments

SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit scientific research institute and organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California It is also one of the supporters of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) which is also supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce and by more than 70 U.S. companies from across the supply chain.

Just before Xmas this year QED-C held a workshop to identify cryogenic technology advances that will enable a ten-fold improvement in quantum information science and technology (QIST) in the next decade “Cryogenics is slowing progress toward the establishment of a quantum industry, which will have both economic and national security implications, and which will create benefits to mankind that we can only dream of today,”  Luke Mauritsen, founder and CEO of Montana Instruments said of the project Workshop

As well as outlining the path for future development of quantum computing, it also identified some of the problems that need to be answered before quantum computing can move forward. Among the problems that need to be solved is reductions in size, weight and power requirements that will enable commercial applications that today are not feasible.

On top of that for many at research universities and in small companies, cost of the systems that are required for certain applications, which can be more than $1 million, is a barrier to entry. Finally, the dwindling pipeline of relevantly educated workers is a growing problem for companies in the field.

Quantum Potential

That said, Itamar Sivan CEO of Israel-based Quantum Machines, which also received a recent funding round, this time for $17.5 million, argues that cloud-based quantum computing is a field that holds incredible potential. The advantages seem obvious quantum computing holds a promise for immense computational power, far beyond anything classical computing will ever be able to provide. Like the incredible growth of cloud computing for AI and big-data applications. the anticipated adoption by large corporations of quantum cloud computing, will surely be immense. “So, in theory, as IDC has stated, quantum cloud investment can provide advantages across all industries, and we highly recommend corporations to begin allocating resources to the field,” he said.

Such investments would be gradual, as the field progresses, to allow companies, both, not to be left behind when quantum reaches its tipping point, or even better, to gain a first-movers advantages as soon as this happens. Whether this happens in two or five years, companies which have wisely invested in the field, might benefit from an unprecedented advantage.

Is Quantum Computing Necessary?

But is quantum computing necessary? Jay Valentine of  Austin-based Cloud-Sliver believes not. Instead, he believes that Edge computing will drastically impact quantum. Quantum computing, he said, in the way it is being practiced is a hardware solution that runs very specific apps superfast. It is massively expensive, and the skills needed to make it work are not there. Edge computing (vs computing at the edge) has created an entirely different distributed tech stack that enables any app to be broken up into infinite pieces, run simultaneously on tiny hardware devices like a Raspberry Pi or embedded device. “These today actually exceed the speed of any quantum computer with published results. And it is delivered with traditional hardware, (Raspberry Pi), inexpensively, today, and is in production at several sites” he said.

He said that already, we are taking apps that consume an $87 million data center, for 90 hours to come to a result, and we deliver the same in 20 seconds on a single Raspberry Pi. This kind of EDGE tech will eliminate most of the need for quantum computers.