Microsoft Opens Azure Quantum Cloud Service for Public Preview

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft has placed its Azure Quantum service into public preview

• Learning and software development are the first step in a long quantum computing journey

In a blog post, Microsoft has announced public availability of the Azure Quantum cloud service, which has been in closed beta testing for a while. All three of the biggest cloud providers, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud (with IBM), and Amazon Braket, now offer some form of quantum cloud computing. The original vision of quantum computing was much more centered on the idea that enterprises would buy quantum computers. But the operational and facility requirements for the current generation of quantum computers are too steep. Cloud computing is the natural choice for quantum computing, outside of the biggest research institutions and nation-states.

The market for quantum computing is currently in the research phase, with companies mainly examining how to use quantum computing and determining which problems can best be served by quantum computing. The rise of quantum cloud services makes it easy for companies to concentrate on the issues without significant capital outlay or delay due to equipment installation. Quantum computers are used in conjunction with conventional computing systems, with the quantum computer doing calculations that would take a conventional computing system far too long to finish, if they can be finished at all.

Like all quantum competitors, Microsoft has a large amount of end-user resources to learn how to develop equations and software to run on its quantum cloud. It has also made available its open-source interface Quantum Intermediate Representation (QIR) that serves as an interface between programming languages and Microsoft’s quantum computing offerings. Microsoft is also offering the open-source Quantum Development Kit (QDK) that contains the Q# quantum programming language. The programming and learning side of quantum computing is often not discussed, but is vital for uptake of the platforms, as quantum computing works fundamentally different than conventional computing. Microsoft also offers quantum emulators for customers to perfect their quantum projects on before applying them to the actual quantum computer, helping with quantum resource utilization and lowering costs for customers by allowing them to test in simulation.

Real, regular commercial production use of quantum computing is still in the far distance, but the pace of the quantum market and the excitement over the possibilities are rising rapidly.

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