We may be at the beginning of a major change in the nature of colocation data centers. The introduction of quantum computing hardware will require some very specific architectural changes compared to what we think of as a data center today.
If your only exposure to quantum mechanics has been a comment on an episode of the Big Bang Theory, it can come as a surprise that the branch of theoretical physics that describes the interaction of subatomic particles now has practical application in physical devices, the quantum computer.
As we move beyond the binary computer, quantum computers utilize qubits (quantum bits) which differ from their binary cousins in that they can represent not simply zero and one, but both states simultaneously (known as superposition). This allows a quantum computer to perform operations on large amounts of data simultaneously, potentially solving problems more quickly than traditional computing methods.
Oxford Quantum Circuit (OQC) announced today that it will make its quantum computing available globally to businesses via Equinix's TY11 Tokyo International Business Exchange data center, following up on OQC's September 2022 announcement of a similar partnership with colocation provider Cyxtera in the UK.
Adding the chill to chiller
So why is this going to change the data center? Quantum computers require a very controlled operating environment. Consider every conversation you’ve ever had about data center cooling; for proper operation, current technology requires that the qubits be kept only slightly above absolute zero, roughly 300 degrees centigrade cooler than your existing data centers. This, along with significant specialized shielding, is necessary to isolate the qubits from changes in electric and thermal conditions that can cause them to lose coherence and deliver inaccurate results.
This makes it very clear that operating a quantum computer is a very specialized skill and one few businesses would have the resources or inclination to master. Which makes it a perfect service for a colocation data center operator to offer.
By hosting its equipment at Equinix, OQC is taking advantage of Equinix Fabric, the on-demand interconnection service that provides customers with the ability to build their own links to quantum computing services within the data center, as opposed to the more common public cloud offerings from vendors such as Amazon, Google, and IBM or even OQC’s own private cloud offering. The colocation data center availability directly addresses concerns of locality and proximity often associated with plans to utilize quantum computing resources.
"Quantum computing has the potential to transform the way businesses solve problems both now and into the future, especially as our customers look for more innovative solutions,” said Arun Dev, Global Head of Digital Interconnection at Equinix.
By making use of the Equinix interconnect and the security and availability it brings, quantum computing takes another step to move out of the realm of test project to that of a fully manageable business computing resource. This availability means that businesses will have another tool to examine their business data and explore new routes to business success.
With the focus on data-driven business, and the need to derive insights from ever-growing data sets as quickly and effectively as possible makes cutting-edge technologies such as quantum computing more attractive to business. This simplified entry to to a secure and managed quantum computing service is a very attractive solution.
“Making quantum computing available 'as-a-Service' on a globally interconnected digital infrastructure should significantly reduce barriers to experimentation and adoption such as cost, skills, and the complexity of integration—and open up quantum technology to many more organizations to test and use." said Andrew Buss, Senior Research Director, Europe: Future of Digital Infrastructure, IDC.
Quantum Computing: Where the Future is Tomorrow
Continuing changes in computing technology represent an opportunity for colocation data centers. While the technical requirement for maintaining and supporting quantum computing is an extreme case, it highlights the value of colocation as a business model, making a definitive statement about allowing the data center operators do what they do best while their customer’s energies remain focused on solving their business problems and staying ahead of their competition.
So how important is this expanded availability of quantum computing? Dr. Ilana Wisby, CEO at OQC, believes that "the world has been waiting for quantum computing to mature to the point that it can change our lives.” Are you ready for the change?