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Mapping the Quantum Computing Clouds

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate
May 26, 2021

Quantum computing is a technology that fits snugly into existing platforms from large cloud providers. Like existing supercomputers, it's expensive to develop and only situationally needed by users. As a result, cloud providers have not only invested in the technology but have also begun to offer access to existing quantum hardware through their cloud offerings. Quantum platforms from companies like Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft provide access to a number of different quantum computer architectures. Other cloud providers like Fujitsu and NTT are also exploring quantum computing, although not to the same extent.

While Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft may have different offerings, most of these cloud providers help with both providing access to necessary resources and providing advice surrounding client initiatives. As we've mentioned in our report "Preparing for Quantum Computing," these kinds of cloud offerings are especially useful entry points for innovators who either don't have quantum experts on their team or find existing platforms lacking when it comes to their research needs. In the figure below, we map the hardware providers that users can access through these companies, as well as the major customers in each network.

 

Lux Research - Mapping the Quantum COmputing Clouds

The first major aspect to point out is the types of quantum hardware that each cloud player provides access to. Amazon offers ion traps (IonQ), quantum annealers (D-Wave), and superconducting qubits (Rigetti). Microsoft offers ion traps (Honeywell and IonQ) and superconducting qubits (Quantum Circuits, Inc.). It's important to note that, both Amazon and Microsoft operate primarily as access points to various types of quantum hardware. IBM, on the other hand, is extremely confident in its own superconducting approach and offers its customers in-house tech. 

Cloud providers also have partnerships with research universities and with other external quantum players. While we have not mapped them in the figure above for the sake of clarity, you can see a full listing of Microsoft's university and solution partners, Amazon's consulting and technology partners, and IBM's sizable quantum network. Additionally, there are many other quantum hardware players not connected to these cloud players; they are listed in the market map on our quantum computing Tech Page, which is available to Lux members.

While some universities and quantum computing players (RahkoQu & Co) make the customer list, most customers are looking for ways to improve their current products and services or to develop new ones by finding quantum advantages (instances where quantum computers can always outperform classical supercomputers) relevant to their businesses. These customers include some financial firms, but the bulk of companies are in physical industries like automotive, energy, chemicals and materials, pharma, and electronics, for which digital transformation is extremely important.

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