Accessing and Improving Latest Technologies through Cloud Services

Recently, cloud computing, the instantaneous access to applications, computational power, and data storage provided by cloud services through the internet with “pay-as-you-go pricing,” has been viewed more often as a business model for companies to optimize performance and cut down costs [1]. However, it could also be viewed as a method for scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to test out and improve on new technological advancements. The use of the cloud to spur the development of new technologies and their markets could soon be regarded as one of the cloud’s most important feats. In particular, IBM and Alibaba allowing developers to access quantum computer through their cloud services, or providing quantum computing as a cloud service, has benefited the quantum computing market and brought the commercialization of quantum computers even closer.

In essence, quantum computers mainly take advantage of two quantum mechanics principles, superposition and entanglement, to create “more sophisticated switches” [2]. Today’s computers encode information in bits that can either have a value of 0 or 1, but through superposition, quantum computers can encode information in qubits that can have both the values of 0 and 1. Morover, through entanglement, qubits become connected with one another, meaning each qubit’s value can rely on the value of another qubit. As a result of these two quantum properties, we can have computers that can solve problems that “no single supercomputer can” [3].

Last November, IBM released a 20-quibit model, currently the fastest quantum computer offered on a cloud platform, and allowed access to these computers through its cloud service, the IBM Cloud, for commercial use [4]. Earlier this year, the Alibaba Group, a dominating Chinese e-commerce company, announced the development of an 11-quibit model, which has been made available for Alibaba Cloud users to test out. This release makes Alibaba Cloud’s the second company to offer quantum computing as a public cloud service and its cloud-offered computer the second fastest. Dr. Shi Yaoyun, Alibaba Cloud’s lead quantum computing scientist, believes that through allowing the use of Alibaba’s quantum computer as a cloud service, research groups can advance and help in “leading the way in developing quantum tools and software globally.”

Although Alibaba has just tapped into the market, it has a long way to go. IBM’s Q Experience, its cloud accessible quantum computing service, has attracted several Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan Chase and Samsung, and “over 60 thousand users [running] more than 1.7 million quantum expirments and generat[ing] over 35 third-party research publications.” The IBM Q Experience has captivated many leaders in academia and industry because of the promising technological leverage quantum computers could provide. For instance, Marco Pistoia, a researcher at IBM, believes that traffic optimization is one problem that could be potentially tackled using quantum computers, which hopefully can end traffic jams that cost the city of Los Angeles alone $19.2 billion annually [3].

With quantum computing now readily available as a cloud service, we can expect a sooner commercial introduction of quantum computers as more and more research groups and businesses are developing useful tools. Both IBM Cloud and Alibaba Cloud are offering access to their quantum computers and are in the path of introducing even more advanced models for a developing market. The quantum computing industry is growing “faster than anticipated” and is expected to be worth around $1.9 billion in 2023 and around $8.0 billion in 2027 [5]. Ultimately, because tech companies are making new technologies more accessible through cloud services, new technologies and their markets are developing faster, further propelling technological advancements.


[1] AWS, “What is Cloud Computing?” on Amazon Web Services.

[2] IBM, “How do quantum computers work?” on IBM Research.

[3] Howard Rabinowitz, “Quantum computing could put a stop to traffic jams”, on Quartz Media.

[4] Tony Peng, “Alibaba Launches 11-Qubit Quantum Computing Cloud Service”, on Medium.

[5] Asokan Ashok, “Four Trends In Cloud Computing CIOs Should Prepare For In 2019”, on Forbes.