back to article IBM's quantum 'puter news proves Big Blue still doesn't get 'cloud'

In a troubling development today, IBM demonstrates it still hasn't quite grasped this cloud computing thing at all. Big Blue's boffins have built a quantum-computing processor featuring five superconducting qubits, and installed it in the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York. IBM is now inviting people to request access …

  1. Adrian Midgley 1


    do not advance science.

    1. Rocket_Rabbit
      Thumb Up

      Re: Marketroids

      As much as I upvoted your post, I think they do!

      On the face of it, it's a load of rubbish. However the marketing = exposure, = curiosity = interest = more funding = advance in science.

      One can hope anyway :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marketroids

      R&D really is a marketing function so they should be researching and developing whatever marketing believes the customers will buy. So yes marketing does make the science thing happen.

      Sales however is just flogging whatever crap they have: it advances sales droids.

      I've only ever once worked for a firm where R&D reported to the head of marketing. It was brilliant: if you had an idea for something you chatted it over with them and if they could see it as something our customers would go for you could be prototyping it next week and getting constructive feedback. It worked the other way too: sometimes they would come to us asking for the impossible and we would send them away educated and sometimes they would ask for something that was quick and easy and would make a massive difference to the firms bottom line.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Marketroids

        >Sales however is just flogging whatever crap they have: it advances sales droids.

        >I've only ever once worked for a firm where R&D reported to the head of marketing. It was brilliant:

        That sounds like a terrible idea. At least in the the smaller shops I have worked, all too often sales will flog shit that doesn't exist yet especially if they are on commission and can pull one last huge quarter and flee before crap hits fan. Second marketing will start promising things to the handful of customers that usually are so big they have the smallish company bent over already (they are usually not profitable customers either but having the name as the customers is worth it to dumb management). A bigger company like my current one is a bit too siloed with people all over the world for that really to be effective more than likely either. I suppose that could maybe work with really good management and good discipline from the different departments but that is pretty rare in my experience.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      This is a piss poor article.... Re: Marketroids


      First, yes, IBM's marketeers aka marketdroids aka shit for brains, just don't get it.

      IBM's current decade slide is a testament to that.

      But beyond this... here's the thing. You have a scarce resource. A quantum computer to play with if you have the right credentials.

      So put yourself in IBM's shoes. How do they market this play toy and yet limit access to those who would actually do something of value with it?

      IBM put themselves in to a no win situation.

      Were I IBM, I would have done things slightly differently. I would have marketed this by saying that they were putting a quantum computer up on their cloud and are granted a select few access if they can show that they deserve access. Just being honest and up front about it... Sign up, make a case and if we (IBM) think you have merit, we'll grant you access.... I get it and I think most sane normal rational people would get it.

      But then again, we're talking about IBM Marketing which haven't a clue about how to have a mature conversation where they aren't trying to sell you something.


      But hey! What do I know... I'm just a commentard who's flaming both IBM's stupid as usual marketeers and of course the lazy El Reg reporting...

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Grumpy Gumby

        "So put yourself in IBM's shoes. How do they market this play toy and yet limit access to those who would actually do something of value with it?"

        By describing it as I set out at the start of the article without the cloud bollocks. Christ, it ain't hard.


        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: Grumpy Gumby

          Moi grumpy? Hardly.

          You start off ok and then go off on a rant how this isn't a cloud sort of thing.

          Or how you go to sign up only to find out that they've hid their qualifier page to make sure you really are interested in advancing quantum computing.

          Lets face it, you may not make the grade. Moi? I know a guy who knows a guy... ;-)

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: This is a piss poor article.... Marketroids

        "So put yourself in IBM's shoes. How do they market this play toy and yet limit access to those who would actually do something of value with it?"

        Mmm, Honesty? "We have a great new toy, but limited access, sign up now to get on the list for a chance to play with it if we approve you.

        Which, BTW, is exactly what they are offering, once the buzzword bullshit is eliminated.

        Pity. If they'd been honest, they could have cooked up a lot of "exclusivity" hype over it, and had academics vying for the bragging rights of using it.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Captain Daft... Re: This is a piss poor article.... Marketroids

          That's my point exactly.

          They are on the 'right track' but mess it up because they can't keep it simple.

          They try to sell you something or market something.

          They just don't get it.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Marketroids

      Is there anything they advance besides ignorance?

      Sweet chocolate Jesus! I just saw some of the responses defending marketing! Yep, we're doomed.

      Reminds me of an old saying: You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

  2. PleebSmasher

    cryogenic freezer burn

    big blue just got cold

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: cryogenic freezer burn

      The question is ...

      With Rometty in charge, what body part is 'blue'?

  3. rtb61

    Avoid The MultiNational Cloud

    When it comes to cloud computing the very worst thing you can do is go multinational, that must be avoided at all costs. You definitely want to go with a local provider, because that is the only way you can secure and protect your privacy.

    Going with a multinational guarantees they will invade you business secrets and use them to their advantage

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

      Re: Avoid The MultiNational Cloud

      Yeah, I guess it's not whether you are paranoid... but whether you are paranoid enough right?

  4. Brent Longborough

    Minor edit

    Just replace all mention of "cloud" with "clown" and you've got it about right.

    (BTW, I don't claim originality for the idea; I think it was first proposed by BoingBoing)

    1. VinceH
      Thumb Up

      Re: Minor edit

      I like it. From this point forth, Whenever I read anything on the subject of cloud, I will read that word as clown. I may very well start writing it as clown as well.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Perhaps the author wants to stop all scientific research?

    Please repeat after me...

    The Cloud is NOT the answer to life, the Universe and Everything.

    Sure, it a solution we have available at the moment but without the sort of research the IBM is doing we will be stuck with it forever and a day. slag off IBM all you like (and they do deserve most of it), research like this does not come cheap but it could be the forerunner of the systems we will all use in the future.

    Given the other article on 'Monster Cloud' that was published today, do you really want everything in the world to run on a cloud and one provided outsode your company?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps the author wants to stop all scientific research?

      FWIW I don't want scientific research to stop. If IBM had described this as I laid out at the start of the article, without the cloud bollocks, it would be all good. Nice one, Big Blue.

      Instead it turned into a big kick in the balls.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 'cloud' is just someone else's computer. So IBM is right.

    If anyone else has a definition for cloud that they like to use - well done!

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      It's all about context.

      "Poorly thought-through outsourcing deal" is another one.

    2. James Anderson

      But the concept is so this<H<H<H<Hlast centuary

  7. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sorry but...

    This sounds a bit like the super high-tech multibillion dollar equivalent of putting a a CPU emulator on a website. ie. a demo of a toy.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Sorry but...

      "work with the individual quantum bits (qubits), and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing,"

      Might be possible if it wasn't all bollocks.

  8. Jeffrey Nonken

    IBM is and always has been a marketing company. It's always so cute when they try to pretend they're a computer company.

    1. BrentRBrian

      The IBM invented VM tech in 1966 and took it commercial in 1972 ... one year after Unix got born on an anemic DEC PDP.

      IBM has always led the way in technology that eventually trickles down to the desktop ... multiprocessing, high speed interconnect, the disk drive, using separated processors for APP code and I/O channels and devices ... better check the patent database ...

      The reason this "new shiny stuff" is available to us LOW LIFES on the desktop is because IBM's PATENT EXPIRED ON IT.

  9. Mage


    "Cloud" is purely hype and marketing for rented hosting.

    The fact that it's usually easy to sign up (waste your money?) is irrelevant.

    I don't see a huge problem with IBM using the same tired market droid press release hype as everyone else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cloud

      IBM only use "The Cloud" to allow them to apportion that groups earnings into the Cloud Division, allowing Ginni to claim her "transformation" is working.

  10. d4f

    Is noone else botherd by the fact that Big Blue's cable management in the background of the "freezer" looks like a tornado went through?

    1. SecretSonOfHG

      Yep, they likely have noticed the bad cabling. I wonder if that is a symptom of IBM tasting their own medicine: imagine if cabling is managed by an IBM service division via an outsourcing contract whose actual hands on technicians are in turn subcontracted three levels down (Dllbert style) and there's currently a contractual dispute between the first and second levels. Once that is sorted out, in a matter of months someone will fix the cabling mess. Assuming of course that the contract is not over. In that case a renegotiation will start and all the paperwork for the service request will have to be redone again, complete with the associated overhead costs.

      In the meantime, IBM's own lab technicians will have sorted it out, even if it was not part of their duties. But there was no choice: either fix it by some means or delay essential research activities. Which of course, will void the IBM service SLAs, carefully crafted by skilled IBM lawyers to say that if someone outside the contractor manipulates anything, then the SLAs are no longer applicable.

      This is the sort of nightmare IBM's customers are used to deal with, so they only deserve to suffer it themselves.

  11. returnofthemus

    Or is it the author doesn't understand the Quantum Compute Thing

    You hand over your Credit Card Number... and hey presto you get a quantum virtual machine with 1Pb of storage and 1Tb RAM, bring your own Windows image.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Or is it the author doesn't understand the Quantum Compute Thing

      Quantum cloud computing is simple.

      You can either know the location of the computer or its performance.

      The less knowledge you have of the position, the greater freedom in performance.

      In the cloud you have no idea where the computer is - and therefore the potential performance is huge

  12. Anonymous Git

    wait for it...

    but can it play Crysis?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Cloud" = "The Internet", for marketeers...

    The author rant is a bit funny, since in marketing lingo "the Cloud" is nothing more than "the Internet".

    Actually they started to call it "the Cloud" because that's the way "the Internet" has been always represented in most tech diagrams.... and thereby the same silly name was applied to on-demand computing resources.

    Without ever understanding that that cloud represented only all the Internet plumbing you were not really interested on... IT got a bad direction when marketing people saw a new way to make money.

  14. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "IBM doesn't get it. It's not 2007 any more."

    I'd say IBM doesn't get it's not 1967 any more, but let's not argue about it.

  15. Stevie


    Pretty much anything IBM has announced in my IT lifetime has required immersion in liquid helium to work as advertised. Talking about that aspect of any new IBM service or thing is, I suspect, redundant.

    Perhaps immersion in liquid helium of the marketing staff would be in order, though.

    1. Paul Smith

      Re: Bah!

      Maybe I am just older then you but all the cool things that I remember IBM announcing are now available to me.

      1. Stevie

        Re: Bah!

        None of the really cool stuff is, though.

        Because, you know, liquid helium.

        I vivdly remember the announcement of the affordable CD drive being trumped by IBM who said they had one that could store data at seven times the density of that one's capacity, so yah boo sux.

        Downside? Liquid helium or didn't work at all.

  16. Aodhhan

    Why get upset about this?

    First... it's IBM's system. They can let in whomever they want. They aren't a government system running on taxpayer money.

    Second... I got in. No hassle, no fuss. 20 minute wait.

    Third... if you get in, you can see why they want to limit it to people who have a clue. This isn't a system for an average computer nerd wannabee.

    Fourth... it likely isn't set up with load balancing applications with a capacity for thousands of people to be on at one time.

    Get a grip on yourself. The fact IBM is setting this up for people all over the world to set up experiments shows they DO GET THE CLOUD.

    This article proves the author doesn't get the cloud, and is likely clueless when it comes to security and resources.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dadmin

      Re: Why get upset about this?

      Because it's YOU that got it wrong. The "cloud" is a remote bunch of compute that must be accessible to more than one entity at a time, or a single task at a time. There's where you go off track and fail to grok this simple accept; IBM has put up a single-use system, on the regular Internet, remotely accessible, but lacking any other cloudy finery; it's not distributed, so only one developer at a time is getting to touch it. That's not a fucking cloud, that's a remotely connected, single host. It's a far from being a cloud as you can get before you just unplug it and call it a DESKTOP. Savvy? Probably not.

      Get back to fixing that Exchange Server, I smell it backing up with loads of peoples personal pr0n files... off you go.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Why get upset about this?

        The IBM press release is quite clear. "..access through a first-of-a-kind quantum computing platform delivered via the IBM Cloud".

        So, the quantum computer itself is not part of a cloud, the means of getting access to it and creating jobs is. The access will be via a SoftLayer application running within the "IBM Cloud". Note the qualification. It's not "The Cloud", it's the "IBM Cloud". So it is whatever IBM defines is the "IBM Cloud", and given the wide scope of most people's definition of what cloud computing is all about (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS etc.), they've neither lied, nor have they misunderstood cloud computing.

        The release also talks about a 5 qbit system, and then about being able to use individual qbits. This potentially means that up to 5 jobs may be running at the same time, and if the cloud access platform allows jobs to be queued up in some form of batch system (I don't know, but I would set it up that way myself), then many, many people could be using the access platform at the same time. I very much doubt you get a command prompt directly on the quantum computer itself (I'd love to see the source code of the OS if you could!)

        Whether it's misleading is a very subjective matter, and will be based entirely on whatever definition of cloud computing the reader wishes to believe.

        Me, I subscribe to Cloud as being "someone elses computer", as stated by an AC at the beginning of the comment thread, so this fits that definition.

  17. KLRajpal

    The assumption that the an electron-spin qubit (quantum bit) can be both spin-up and spin-down at the same time is based on an incorrect concept of Electron Spin.

  18. Doug Finke

    Press Releases that Sound Too Good to Be True

    Sometimes marketing will publish a press release that sounds too good to be true and in the process set unrealistic expectations and ruin the public's perception of a product which is actually pretty good.

    IBM gave me access to the IBM Quantum Experience and I have been playing with it for the past few days. For what it was originally intended, a experimental educational toy for students and researchers, it is quite good. The tool includes a good built-in tutorial that explains the basics of quantum computing, a composer that allows one to configure quantum gates, a simulator, and finally, the ability to run the problem on the actual quantum processor. The tool includes a nice graphic interface that makes creating a configuration a drag-and-drop exercise and a capability to save and display results in an easy to use manner. For those of you interested, I have posted a "First Look" review and you can view it at:

    There is a lot of hype associated wtih quantum computing these days and it is easy for the general media who do not understand quantum computing technology to blow a development way out of proportion. Many of these folks would not recognize a qubit even if they entangled with one in a dark alley. This has certainly happened in this case and this is not good for IBM given the general concerns for the company that the strategic imperative technologies are not increasing in revenue as fast as the legacy technologies are declining.

    - Doug

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