Enterprise use of quantum computing today–to the fairly limited degree it is actually happening–largely is being done through public cloud services–Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and others–that offer access to a variety of different quantum processing units (QPUs).
There is good reason for this, as most companies that have an interest in exploring quantum computing and using it for simulation projects and other needs do not have the resources, technical know-how, or space to build their own on-premises quantum computers (and probably a large number of them never will).
This makes the cloud providers offering quantum computing as-a-service (QCaaS) very valuable partners to such users, but with cloud access these user still may need to deal with latency issues, security scare, and other challenges.
Deploying quantum computers and QPUs in data centers could present a viable alternative to cloud services, and that is exactly what European quantum computing firm Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) and Florida-based data center company Cyxtera have in mind. The partners this week announced that they will offer QCaaS to Cyxtera’s U.K. data center customers via a quantum computer colocated in Cyxtera’s Reading Data Center Campus LHR3 in Workingham, England.
The offering is based on what is believed to be the first integration of a quantum computer in a colocation data center.
“For quantum computing to fully realize its potential as a technology, it must be accessible and seamlessly integrated within the current computing and data management infrastructure of a business,” said OQC CEO Ilana Wisby. “Deploying quantum computers into data centers enables users to have zero friction and seamless access to QCaaS. The key benefits underpinning this direct QCaaS via datacenter deployment are direct-connects, low-latency access, security, and redundancy.”
She further explained each of these benefits:
- Direct-connect: Direct-connects give users direct-QCaaS access with direct data connections wherever they are in the world, along with low latency and high security. This gives users the ability to connect directly with customers, partners, other data centers and other computational resources without touching the public cloud or internet.
- Low latency access: Deploying into data centers allows customers to spin up a QPU at existing data endpoints and right next to their existing high-performance compute and other processing capabilities (e.g. CPU, GPU, IPUs). Deploying quantum computers close to other processing capabilities is important when building the infrastructure for a quantum future where applications will be a hybrid of classical and quantum capabilities. This means they must be both physically and latency close together.
- Security and redundancy: Data centers are set up with a customer’s high security and redundancy needs in mind. By integrating our quantum computers into data centers, we can leverage the benefits of physical and data security enabled by existing datacenter infrastructure and provide a zero friction and seamless customer experience.
Cyxtera SVP and CTO Holland Barry added that integrating a full-scale quantum computer into a data center environment comes with challenges, but that getting one installed and continuing to refine the architecture will help the partners create and approach that can be replicated.
“There are unique complexities with hosting a quantum computer. For example, gas handling, helium compressors, and control racks alongside cryostat, all occupy a unique footprint,” Barry said. “This requires operational flexibility from Cyxtera, alongside hand-in-hand design efforts from Engineering, Facilities, Capacity Management and OQC teams. OQC and Cyxtera will continue to focus on the long-term development of engineering quantum computer deployments, with the view that, over iterations of new architectures, we will continue to drive toward a form factor that aligns to standard data center deployments.”
Barry said Cyxtera plans to host more quantum computers in more of its data centers. “This is part of our seamless quantum computing strategy,” Barry said. “We are deploying quantum computers around the globe via our colocation data center strategy. We want to build a world where we can offer any user, anywhere in the world, a secure, seamless connection to quantum computation.”