When it comes to hardcore quantum computing players Cisco might not be the first company you think of, but that could change a lot in 2022 and beyond.\nFor starters, the company is investing in photonics development, which will enable quantum communications as well as other hardware and software technologies for quantum computing, networking, and cryptography.\u00a0\n\nDeveloping quantum technologies was also one of the top predictions on the 2022 predictions list of Cisco\u2019s executive vice president, general manager and Chief Strategy Officer Liz Centoni.\u00a0\n\u201cQuantum computing, communications, and security will power a faster, more secure future that demands a reinvention of how systems work and communicate via an evolved Internet with even lower latency and higher bandwidth,\u201d Centoni stated.\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cQuantum computing and security will interconnect very differently than classical communications networks, which stream bits and bytes to provide voice and data information.\u201d\nOf particular interest to Cisco is future development of quantum-based networks, data centers, and internet technologies.\n\u201cQuantum networking could enable a new type of secure connection between digital devices, making them impenetrable to hacks,\u201d Centoni stated. \u201cAs this type of foolproof security becomes achievable with quantum networking, it could lead to better fraud protection for transactions. In addition, this higher quality of secure connectivity may also be able to protect voice and data communications from any interference or snooping. All of these possibilities would re-shape the internet we know and use today.\u201d\nLooking closer, Cisco\u2019s vision is twofold--to build quantum data centers that could use classic local area network concepts to tie together quantum computers to communicate to solve big problems or a quantum-based network that transmitsquantum bits [qubits] from quantum servers at high-speeds to handle commercial-grade applications, said Ramana Kompella a Distinguished Engineer and the head of research in the Emerging Tech and Incubation group at Cisco.\n\u201cWe envision a hybrid networking environment that would support classic signaling and other technologies using photonics to transmit qubits server-to-server," Kompella said.\nPhotonics technology, which uses light to transmit data and control a variety of networking mechanisms, will also play a big role in most quantum environments, Kompella said.\n\u201cGiven the engineering complexity of different technologies, we envision photonics will play a central role in realizing large-scale quantum computers either for single-chip processors or to build a distributed computing system,\u201d Alireza Shabani an engineer with Cisco wrote in a recent blog talking about why photonics technology will play such a big part in quantum networking.\u00a0\n\u201cCurrently, the focus of quantum computing hardware projects is to showcase units of less than one hundred qubits, while challenges begin when we want to scale the systems to thousands and eventually millions. Which technology platform has a better chance for faster scaling depends on the complexity of the hardware system and the architecture,\u201d Shabani wrote. \u201dModularity \u00a0is a way to lower the system complexity, which in the case of quantum computing can be achieved by having quantum chips connected via photonic interconnects in a distributed fashion. Besides scalability, photonic networks allow all-to-all connectivity between modules which results in a major boost in the computational power of the system.\u201d\nWhile some of the theories behind quantum networking a data center are embryonic at this point, the notion of a quantum internet is more advanced.\u00a0\nFor example, scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei announced a year ago what they claimed was the world's first integrated quantum communication network. The network tied over 700 optical fibers on the ground with two ground-to-satellite links to achieve quantum key distribution over a distance of close to 3,000 miles for users across China.\u00a0\n\u201cUnlike conventional encryption, quantum communication is considered unhackable and therefore the future of secure information transfer for banks, power grids and other sectors," the scientists stated.\u00a0 \u201cThe core of quantum communication is quantum key distribution (QKD), which uses the quantum states of particles\u2014e.g. photons\u2014to form a string of zeros and ones, while any eavesdropping between the sender and the receiver will change this string or key and be noticed immediately.\u201d\nCisco is part of the Center for Quantum Networks that has as a goal to build the quantum internet, which it says will spur new technology industries and a competitive marketplace of quantum service providers and application developers.\nThe European Quan\u00adtum Inter\u00adnet Alliance and the US Department of Energy are likewise looking to pull together indus\u00adtri\u00adal and aca\u00add\u00ade\u00adm\u00adic partners to further quantum communications.\nThe quantum internet indeed will be primarily for security use cases where users need to securely communicate location to location over many miles, Kompella said.\u00a0 \u201cTechnologies to develop the quantum internet and the security use case are being developed all around the world,\u201d Kompella said.\nOther applications will be developed such as privacy-preserving apps, also known as blind computing, where quantum servers handle work without \u201cknowing\u201d all of the information about the work. Fraud detection, particle simulation and climate applications are all targets for distributed quantum technology to work on, Kompella said.\nCisco, too, has many irons in the quantum-development fire. Cisco Research posted a request for proposal for Quantum Technologies in January 2021 that is still open, looking for a variety \u00a0of technologies including:\n\nPhoton sources and detection technology\nFabrication methods and materials for photonic integrated circuit\nQuantum networks applications\nQuantum cryptography beyond QKD\nSecurity of quantum cryptography protocols\n\nCisco has already partnered with UC Santa Barbara to develop a quantum photonic chip.\nCisco is part of a growing quantum community that includes IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Baidu, Honeywell, Quantinuum, and many others.\u00a0 Other traditional networking competitors are also getting in the game. Last September Juniper and quantum specialists at Arquit Quantum entered a technology partnership to develop network security technology that will protect against quantum security threats.\nThe technology is certainly only beginning to take shape and Kompella and others say the industry is five to 10 years from meaningful adoption. But the interest is certainly there as Gartner expects nearly 40% of large enterprises to have some quantum initiatives by 2025 and IDC projects the worldwide quantum computing market be worth $8.6 Billion in 2027.\nMajor breakthroughs in quantum computing technology, a maturing quantum-computing-as-a-service infrastructure and platform market, and the growth of performance intensive computing workloads suitable for quantum technology will drive most of the market growth, IDC stated.\u00a0\n\u201cFor the next decade, quantum computing \u00a0hype will remain. Across the vendor and service provider landscape, CIOs will run into the challenge of those who underpromise but underdeliver on QC capabilities,\u201d said\u00a0Chirag Dekate, an analyst with Gartner at the company\u2019s recent IT Symposium\/Xpo 2021. \u201cQuantum computing is not a general-purpose technology and can only currently be applied to a narrow set of use cases: optimization problems, organic chemistry, material science, biochemistry, and security. Gartner anticipates this list growing in the next five to 10years.\u201d\nQuantum computing is at an inflection point in terms of funding, research and experimentation, Kompella said.\u00a0\u201cCisco has played amazing role in developing and building digital infrastructure and quantum is one of those technologies that has a foundational element to it.\u00a0 Our research is looking for the next big innovation with the aim to create new product offerings for Cisco,\u201d Kompella said.