Amazon Braket: Quantum computing as a service
At its annual Re: Invent conference yesterday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) unveiled three new services aimed at advancing the state of quantum computing.
“Nearly a decade ago, I wrote about the Quantum Compute Cloud on April Fool’s Day. The future has arrived and you now have the opportunity to write quantum algorithms and to run them on actual quantum computers,” wrote Jeff Barr in an AWS announcement.
Quantum computing has made some significant advances this year, meaning that Amazon is throwing its hat into an already quite crowded ring. Both IBM and Google made massive investments in quantum computing this year, both bringing the technology into the public discussion in October as Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy, only to have IBM roundly refute it. It’s a time when the race to dominate the quantum computing field is hotly contested.
There’s just one problem: AWS doesn’t actually have a quantum computer.
Google has the Sycamore and the Bristlecone, IBM has its Q System One, and AWS has a plan. As an industry leader of cloud solutions, AWS is happy to sell quantum as a service, acting as a middleman between researchers and companies who want to “tinker around with qubits” and three companies - D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti - who all have their own supercomputers.
As a result, AWS is moving forward with three new services based around its quantum offering.
Amazon Braket – A fully managed service that allows scientists, researchers, and developers to begin experimenting with computers from multiple quantum hardware providers in a single place. Bra-ket notation is commonly used to denote quantum mechanical states, and inspired the name of the service.
AWS Center for Quantum Computing – A research center adjacent to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that will bring together the world’s leading quantum computing researchers and engineers in order to accelerate development of quantum computing hardware and software.
Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab – A new program to connect AWS customers with quantum computing experts from Amazon and a very select set of consulting partners.
“We believe that quantum computing will be a cloud-first technology and that the cloud will be the main way customers access the hardware,” said Charlie Bell, senior vice president, Utility Computing Services, AWS, said in a press release. “With our Amazon Braket service and Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, we’re making it easier for customers to gain experience using quantum computers and to work with experts from AWS and our partners to figure out how they can benefit from the technology. And with our AWS Center for Quantum Computing and academic partnerships, we join the effort across the scientific and industrial communities to help accelerate the promise of quantum computing.”
IT Employees Predict 90% Increase in Cloud Security Spending
As companies get back on their feet post-pandemic, they’re going all-in on cloud applications. In a recent report by Devo Technology titled “Beyond Cloud Adoption: How to Embrace the Cloud for Security and Business Benefits”, 81% of the 500 IT and security team members surveyed said that COVID accelerated their cloud timelines. More than half of the top-performing businesses reported gains in visibility. In fact, the cloud now outnumbers on-premise solutions at a 3:1 ratio.
But the benefits are accompanied by significant cybersecurity risks, as cloud infrastructure is more complex than legacy systems. Let’s dive in.
Why Are Cloud Platforms Taking Over?
According to Forrester, the public cloud infrastructure market could grow 28% over the next year, up to US$113.1bn. Companies shifting to remote work and decentralised workplaces find it easy to store and access information, especially as networks start to share more and more supply chain and enterprise information—think risk mitigation platforms and ESG ratings.
Here’s the catch: when you shift to the cloud, you choose a more complex system, which often requires cloud-native platforms for network security. In other words, you can’t stop halfway. ‘Only cloud-native platforms can keep up with [the cloud’s] speed and complexity” and ultimately increase visibility and control’, said Douglas Murray, CEO at cloud security provider Valtix.
Here’s a quick list of the top cloud security companies, as ranked by Software Testing Help:
What are the Security Issues?
Here’s the bad news. According to Accenture, less than 40% of companies have achieved the full value they expected on their cloud investments. All-in greater complexity has forced companies to spend more to hire skilled tech workers, analyse security data, and manage new cybersecurity threats.
The two main issues are (1) a lack of familiarity with cloud systems and (2) challenges with shifting legacy security systems to new platforms. Out of the 500 IT employees from Devo Technology’s cloud report, for example, 80% said they’d sorted 40% more security data, suffered from a lack of cloud security training, and experienced a 60% increase in cybersecurity threats.
How Will Companies React?
They certainly won’t stop investing in cloud platforms. Out of the 500 enterprise-level companies that Devo Technology talked to throughout North America and Western Europe, 90% anticipated a jump in cloud security spending in 2021. They’ll throw money at automating security processes and investing in security upskilling programmes.
After all, company executives will find it incredibly difficult to stick with legacy systems when some cloud-centred companies have found success. Since moving from Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) offerings to the cloud, Accenture has saved up to 70% on its processes; recently, the company announced that it would invest US$3bn to help its clients ‘realise the cloud’s business value, speed, cost, talent, and innovation benefits’.
The company stated: ‘Security is often seen as the biggest inhibitor to a cloud-first journey—but in reality, it can be its greatest accelerator’.