We’ve been talking about quantum computing for years now, and the promise it offers—solving certain problems in seconds that classical computers would take decades to solve—is now well established. Many enterprises have begun to plan what they’d do with the game-changing compute power that quantum offers. Now, the question isn’t whether they’ll adopt quantum, but how and when they’ll do it.
Quantum computing technology has recently taken its first steps out of the lab, but we’re likely still a few years away from full-scale commercialization. A recent report from GlobalData forecasts that the quantum computing market will reach $10 billion in value sometime between 2026 and 2030, up from only $500 million – $1 billion in 2022.[i] However, enterprises that wait for this massive growth to occur risk falling behind the competition. They need to start building their quantum strategies today.
How can today’s enterprises prepare for the quantum future?
First, enterprises must consider which of their use cases are a good fit for quantum. Contrary to what some might think, quantum computers won’t replace classical computers across the board. Quantum computers will supplement existing high-performance compute (HPC) systems, with each one used to support certain use cases. The challenge for enterprises going forward will be to make the most of both technologies and to integrate them so they both function well as part of a holistic IT architecture.
Specifically, quantum computers are best suited for extremely demanding use cases such as performing large-scale simulations, solving large optimization problems or training machine learning models. These use cases will show up across industries, but they’ll be particularly prevalent in sectors like automotive, healthcare and financial services.
Enterprises can benefit from a Quantum Computing as a Service (QCaaS) business model for several reasons. First, there’s the obvious: Quantum computers are still extremely expensive and become obsolete quickly, so buying one is out of the question for all but the largest conglomerates with the deepest pockets.
Also, not all quantum computers are created equally, so it’s important for enterprises to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. There are multiple quantum modalities available today, and certain quantum computers are better suited than others to solve particular problems more efficiently and with a lower error rate. Even if an enterprise can overcome the cost and complexity of buying, installing and maintaining its own quantum computer, this would still mean locking itself into only one type of quantum computer. In contrast, an enterprise that uses QCaaS can maximize its flexibility, potentially using the best computer for each particular job.
How to access QCaaS
Even some of the QCaaS offerings available today still leave something to be desired for enterprise customers. The early adopters for QCaaS have primarily been academic and research institutions. These customers tend to access the services from inside their own on-premises facilities—typically university laboratories. These environments don’t offer easy access to commercial ecosystem partners; this may not be a big drawback in academia, but it’s a serious limitation for enterprises.
Today’s enterprises can also access QCaaS directly from public cloud platforms. However, there are drawbacks to a cloud-only approach: It can lead to vendor lock-in, which limits flexibility. Moving data into the public cloud could also drive very high data egress fees when the time comes to move that data out of the cloud.
To prepare for the future of quantum, look back
If on-premises quantum computers and public cloud QCaaS both have significant drawbacks, what is the right way forward for enterprises looking to prepare their quantum strategies?
We typically think of quantum innovation as something that’s inherently forward-looking. However, to help us go from concept to commercialization, it may be helpful to apply some of the lessons we’ve learned about digital infrastructure in the past. In recent years, many enterprises have come to understand the business value they can generate by deploying in distributed, interconnected data centers.
Putting themselves in close proximity to ecosystem partners and potential customers has helped them maximize the value of their business data and ensure infrastructure agility everywhere they need it. Digital leaders have put their data centers at the heart of their operations, evolving themselves to take advantage of all the benefits those data centers offer. Going forward, it will be no surprise to see the same thing happen for QCaaS.
By deploying in or near strategic data center locations, quantum service providers will get the network access they need to move large data sets quickly, driving benefits both for themselves and for their enterprise customers. In addition, proximity to dense ecosystems of potential customers can help QCaaS providers scale their workloads while keeping overhead costs low. In fact, one internal Equinix estimate found that connecting with a customer via cross connect inside a data center can cost as little as one-tenth the amount of connecting via a metro MPLS line.
Equinix supports different approaches to Quantum Computing as a Service
As the world’s digital infrastructure company®, Equinix will a play a central role in unlocking the future of QCaaS for a global customer base. Earlier this year, we shared how Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) deployed its next-generation quantum computer inside a Equinix IBX® colocation data center in Tokyo. We mentioned how having access to QCaaS inside a colocation environment helped abstract the complexity of quantum adoption for Equinix customers. Equinix Fabric®, our virtual interconnection service, provides ecosystem access and global availability, even for customers not located in Tokyo.
The Equinix-OQC colocation model is not only a world first, but it also meets the goal of extending QCaaS offerings to a wider customer base. By making quantum computing more accessible, we’re accelerating the pace at which industries can experiment with quantum computing and harness the potential advantages of quantum for real-world applications.
Just as enterprise customers are looking for multiple options to meet their quantum needs, different quantum service providers will pursue different deployment models to reach those customers. For example, our newest quantum partner is Alice & Bob, a Paris-based company that seeks to commercialize cutting-edge quantum research performed inside French and international labs.
The Alice & Bob story shows how a digital leader can unlock the full value of Platform Equinix® without having to be inside the four walls of an Equinix facility. Instead of having to uproot its quantum computer, Alice & Bob connected to Equinix services remotely. This allows the company to access the global reach, dense ecosystems and digital services portfolio of Equinix, all from its own on-premises data center.
In the video below, Alice & Bob CEO Théau Peronnin points out that “in quantum, there is no place for a local winner.” The company knew it needed global reach to fulfill its potential, and it got that global reach by partnering with Equinix. Théau also mentions another reason Alice & Bob and Equinix are well-suited to partner with one another: Alice & Bob provides reliable quantum services via its proprietary self-correcting superconducting quantum bit technology. Thus, Equinix’s focus on providing reliable infrastructure made the partnership a natural fit.
Alice & Bob will be deploying Equinix Metal®, our single-tenant Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) offering, to help unlock the value of the Equinix digital ecosystem. Equinix Metal can integrate directly with Equinix Fabric and the wider internet, helping Alice & Bob connect to an easily accessible global network backbone. Now, businesses around the world will be able to access Alice & Bob’s quantum computing services, all with the ease and reliability Equinix is known for.
To learn more about how BMaaS is helping digital leaders like Alice & Bob enjoy a cloud-like experience while also minimizing the potential drawbacks of the public cloud, read the guide to Equinix Metal today.