Quantum Networking and Security at Cisco
Following its pioneering and global leadership in networking technology, Cisco Systems has the mission to shape the future of the Internet and its security. The future of the internet is defined by the emerging technologies for which Cisco has a dedicated organization to conduct research and drive ideas into the market. An area of investment is quantum technology. To this end, Cisco Quantum Lab has been established to research the quantum frontier of networking and security.
Engineering quantum systems has reached the point where we can unleash the power of nature for communication and security at its fundamental limits. Future quantum computers can break the legacy public-key encryption systems, while today, quantum cryptography offers a solution to this cybersecurity threat. Another example is the rapid growth of the Internet of things demands new sources of randomness for security that is where quantum random number generators come in as a solution. These are some commercialization applications of quantum networking and security. In addition to direct applications, the underlying optical and photonics hardware technologies could find dual use for next-generation classical optical products, something Cisco is planning to leverage. Both a near-term market horizon and the value of the corresponding optics/photonics technologies make networking and security a sweet spot for investment in quantum technologies.
Cisco’s quantum R&D involves full-stack hardware, software, and application layers. Our internal hardware efforts are in collaboration with our in-house optics and photonics product development teams. Over the last decade, Cisco has become a powerhouse for optics and photonics technologies with a portfolio of cutting-edge optics and optical networking products. Our theory and software projects involve research on the foundation of quantum networking/security and open-source software projects for the research community and Cisco’s partners and customers.
Developing full-fledged quantum networking/security hardware requires long-term and some basic science research. The focus of research at Cisco Quantum Lab is optics and photonics components while we outsource other key technologies such as memory or repeater involving atomic and molecular systems. Our current plan is to sponsor research at university labs or partner with quantum startups for technologies that complement our internal R&D efforts. Another area of engagement with the outside community is quantum networking protocols and standards. We, as a community of quantum researchers and engineers, are currently at the stage of developing the ARPANET of the Quantum Internet. Cisco is working with other public and private institutes for the development of quantum networking protocols and their future standardization.
Cisco’s past role in the development of the Internet infrastructure will continue in the future.