IBM has announced plans to launch its first European quantum data center and cloud region.
Housed at IBM’s facility in Ehningen, Germany, the data center is expected to be operational by 2024 and will serve as a host site for IBM Quantum’s European cloud region, the company revealed on Tuesday.
Once operational, the center will enable access to “cutting-edge quantum computing for companies, research institutions, and government agencies,” the firm claimed.
The center will house multiple IBM quantum computing systems, each of which will include “utility scale” quantum processors capable of more than 100 qubits.
“The planned quantum data center and associated cloud region will give European users a new option as they seek to tap the power of quantum computing in an effort to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems,” said Jay Gambetta, IBM fellow and VP of IBM Quantum.
European data sovereignty
The Ehningen facility will be IBM’s second quantum data center and cloud region, following the launch of a center in New York in 2019, and the first in Europe.
A key factor in the launch of this data center and cloud region centers on ensuring data sovereignty for European-based clients, IBM revealed.
IBM said the data center will be designed specifically to “help clients continue to manage their European data regulation requirements” such as the processing of all job data within EU borders.
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Data sovereignty has been a recurring topic in recent months amid plans by the EU to implement stricter rules for non-EU companies processing data within the union.
Last month, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) unveiled plans to introduce a cyber security label that will be required for non-EU companies to handle sensitive data.
These labeling proposals could mean that major cloud providers, such as Microsoft, Google, and AWS, would be required to enter into a joint venture with an EU-based firm to ensure a point-of-contact for regulatory purposes.
This move to bolster data sovereignty forms part of a wider push via the EU certification scheme (EUCS), which aims to establish a union-wide certification regime for cloud providers and companies handling EU data.
The scheme has sparked repeated criticism from industry stakeholders amid suggestions that cloud providers outside the EU could be pressured into establishing dedicated headquarters within the union to ensure compliance.
A report from the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) in March described the proposed certification scheme as “discriminatory” toward non-EU providers.
“Quantum computation as a stateless service”
Once the data center is fully online, IBM plans to introduce a "multichannel scheduler" to help manage access and resources across different regions and channels.
“A channel can be a partner or institution that handles their users' access and/or data and can combine with their own or third party classical resources to develop and integrate quantum into their own advance compute solutions,” the firm explained in a blog post.
IBM said this multichannel scheduler is particularly important for users concerned about the storage or processing of data, and begins the journey toward “quantum computation as a stateless service”.
Under this move, data ownership remains with users and will ensure that data is handled and processed solely in Europe.
“The multichannel scheduler will allow for the use of IBM Quantum systems in both the US quantum data center as well as the new European quantum data center regardless of where they’re submitting code from,” IBM said.
“Users in Europe can continue exploring early prototype systems provided only in the US data center and, when ready, to apply those lessons learned to Europe-only systems.”
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Ross Kelly is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership and emerging technologies.
He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.
In his spare time, Ross enjoys cycling, walking and is an avid reader of history and non-fiction.
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