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How long until we have the quantum internet of things?

Google is expected to announce before the end of the year that it has achieved quantum computing supremacy — the ability of quantum computing devices to solve problems that classical computers practically can’t. It isn’t that surprising given that there are a finite number of companies that are up to this challenge, and Google happens to be one of them. As quantum computing starts to become a reality, we expect to see it implemented in conjunction with cloud computing, which isn’t entirely unsurprising given that it exponentially decreases compute time, allowing for far greater speeds than ever before experienced in IT.

But what about other huge technological innovations of our time? What about the internet of things? With IoT anticipated to be heavily reliant on cloud computing, it too could be affected by quantum computing. Quantum IoT promises to turn the tsunami of data streaming in from a variety of edge sources — from equipment on production lines to sensors in products at customer facilities — into actionable insights, but millions of times faster. Combining all that with AI from Google will dramatically change how we work, live and play as we move from digitally autonomous to quantum smart.

While you can expect to see more hype surrounding quantum computing, the very definition of quantum internet remains in flux. It is also a decade away from practical use. To simplify the mind-boggling definitions that we do have, quantum internet and computing involves atoms and other tiny particles called quantum bits (qubits) instead of traditional ones and zeros to solve compute problems. Companies that are trying to commercialize quantum computing are using a phenomenon called superposition and entanglement, sort of strange science that offers the path to quantum supremacy. As Dell’s “Dean of Big Data” explains, three qubits can represent eight values simultaneously which means qubits can perform operations magnitudes faster and with less energy than a digital computer. And encoded light cables of various quantum states are substantially different than today’s wire data that traverses the IT infrastructure. IBM and Microsoft are also exploring this technology, but it is yet to be determined if they can turn their investments into a viable business. Physicists, scientists and engineers are tinkering, designing and adjusting technologies every day to marry quantum computing with existing computational tasks, and, if successful, this will change the already upwards trajectory of medicine, financial services, materials and more forever. Until then, we don’t know when or how this will happen.

Success with quantum IoT depends on service quality

What is known, however, is that when quantum IoT becomes commercially viable the worlds of qubits and wire data will live in harmony and assuring service delivery and security will still reign supreme if businesses want to compete and keep customers happy.

Moving qubits of information around is a daunting task. MIT, the University of Chicago and Stanford, among others, are trying to figure out how to make qubit material last longer and be more transportable over long distances. Chinese scientists recently experimented with quantum entanglement, beaming enabled pairs of photons from a satellite to ground stations. While researchers stayed away from fiber optic cables, which meant ruining the entanglement and causing data loss, this is still a highly relevant experiment for the quantum computing debate.

As we know, encoding information into a single photon is a very fragile process, which is why cryostats are used to freeze quantum chips and ultracold molecules to extend qubit materials longevity. Of course, this is all happening in labs, but in the outside world, wire data is still making the globe turn. This won’t change when quantum computing finally comes into commercial use. In fact, IoT devices will continue to churn out wire data that traverses the SD-WAN, cloud and virtualized data center. But there will be a lot more wire data from every industry including manufacturing, retail, financial services and healthcare. While a whole new level of cryptography will be part of the quantum landscape, combining quantum computing with cloud technology and IoT, however, still throws up a host of security and service performance problems.

Tackling IT problems

Every action and transaction from the IoT edge to the data center, through private and public clouds, traverses the IT infrastructure using wire data-based traffic flows. If quantum IoT gets to the big league, there will be a gateway that turns atoms into IP packets and vice versa. For now, while engineers in the quantum computing labs are talking about moving photons through repeaters, ITOps and SecOps folks are using wire data to tackle things like retaining visibility when moving applications to the cloud and reducing time-to-know after an attack campaign breaches the IoT perimeter. Wire data moves north and south between on-premises and off-premises or east and west between virtual machines in private or public cloud data centers. But wire data in and by itself is of little value for IT professionals until it is turned into smart data to glean actionable insight to mitigate business risk and control outcomes. So how does that happen?

Discovering the truth with smart data

It starts with visibility throughout the entire IT environment to understand the full context of application and service performance and identify anomalies. That simply can’t be done with silo-specific tools that only have visibility into their infrastructure and application domains. Business services like Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and unified communications can suffer disruptions anywhere along the service delivery path. Service degradation can be the result of problems with the application, network, servers, enablers (like DNS and DHCP), middleware and databases. Software-defined data centers and networks, multicloud and convergence with IoT platforms add to the complexity and why wire data-based intelligence is needed when diagnosing whether the application environment or the physical or virtual infrastructure is causing a service performance problem. When performance degradations hit users and customers, the key to rapid resolution and avoiding losing revenue is having service-centric visibility into layers 2 through 7 and a contextual end-to-end view of application dependencies.

Pervasive visibility driven by smart data requires continuously monitoring service, application and hybrid infrastructure performance in real time to identify potential problems and deliver a best-in-class experience. To paraphrase Galileo, all IT truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. For the IT organization and lines of business working in today’s age of infinite devices, multiplying cloud applications and scale, turning wire data into smart data is paramount for service performance clarity, delivering the experiences customers themselves dictate and bolstering the bottom line. And with quantum computing on the horizon, this is only going to get more important for the enterprise as time goes by.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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