Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed three new initiatives it hopes will drive the use of quantum computing technology throughout industry, beyond proof-of-concept uses and towards full-blown production applications.
The most notable of the new initiatives is, perhaps, Amazon Braket which, as announced during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, is now in preview.
In the words of AWS, Braket is a new, fully managed AWS service that enables scientists, researchers, and developers to begin experimenting with computers from quantum hardware providers in a single place.
Amazon Braket is designed to help IT professionals get started learning about quantum computing by providing a development environment with which to build quantum algorithms, test them on simulated quantum computers and run them on different quantum hardware.
“Amazon Braket lets you design your own quantum algorithms from scratch or choose from a set of pre-built algorithms,” AWS said in a blog post. “Once you define your algorithm, Amazon Braket provides a fully managed simulation service to help troubleshoot and verify your implementation.
“When you are ready, you can run your algorithm on your choice of different quantum computers from our quantum hardware providers, including D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti, all accessed through a single user experience.
“To make it easier to develop hybrid algorithms that combine classical and quantum tasks, Amazon Braket helps manage classical compute resources and establish low-latency connections to the quantum hardware. With Amazon Braket you can explore quantum computing, evaluate its potential, and build expertise for the future,” it said.
The potential benefits of quantum computing are, by now, fairly well established. While traditional computing relies on bits, or ones and zeros, quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, that can be both one and zero at the same time.
The ability to harness physics in the quantum scale can, in theory, allow calculations to be done in tandem with each other on a huge scale, which in practical terms means crunching a lot of data very rapidly. In short, quantum technology represents a massive step change in computing power and capability.
To date, however, the application of quantum computing has been limited mainly to proof-of-concept studies with limited practical use.
AWS wants to change that. Along with the introduction of Amazon Briket, the company has also revealed its Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, a program designed to connect customers with quantum computing experts from Amazon and its technology and consulting partners to develop expertise aimed at identifying practical uses of quantum computing.
Additionally, the cloud giant is also launching the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, which will bring together quantum computing experts from Amazon, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and other top academic research institutions to collaborate on the research and development of new quantum computing technologies.
“Without the opportunity to develop the necessary skills, it’s difficult for customers to identify when quantum computing will provide benefit, and learn how they can design algorithms and discover new applications,” the company said in a statement.
AWS’ efforts in the quantum realm come as other big players, including IBM, Google and Microsoft, to name a few, endeavour to find ways to develop the technology and make it relevant to everyday applications.
As reported by ARN in November, however, different analysts and organisations have given varying timeframes ranging from five to 10 years before practical applications emerge, and even 30 before the full power of quantum computing is realised.
But Gartner 'distinguished vice president' and analyst Martin Reynolds thinks there will be (some) opportunities on the horizon for channel partners in some regions. At the same time, Reynolds warns that it is largely the big resellers and systems integrators who will have the time and mammoth resources to even consider investing in the technology.
“If you’re a big-sized agricultural player and you want to use quantum computing to create new fertiliser, you won’t have the expertise to make this happen,” Reynolds said. “But someone like DXC could set up a Quantum Computing practice that can work with your chemists and come up with these new solutions.
“Businesses may very well turn to service providers to provide them with quantum expertise to help them with say their drug research or logistical program. For a big service provider, these skills are very leverageable across a whole range of industries,” he said.