Should Companies Make or Buy Quantum Control Electronics? Keysight Technologies works to Answer this Question
Because of the quantum computing industry’s recent expansion, many experts are predicting the industry will soon reach an inflection point, if it hasn’t already. This inflection point is causing some ripples within the entire industry, including quantum companies shifting targeted vendors, rebranding, or re-assessing key goals. For companies, this change brought up a common question: should we make or buy key quantum control electronics? Keysight Technologies, one of the market-leaders in this ecosystem, is trying to answer this question during the midst of this change, hoping to impart valuable insights to the larger quantum network. “This is a debate I have witnessed among nearly every company I have worked with who is investing in quantum technologies,” explained Dr. Eric Holland, a Keysight Business Development Manager. In trying to resolve this debate, Holland found some interesting results within his own experiences, specifically that buying seems to be the more reliably successful outcome. He added: “While there is no one-size-fits all approach, I have yet to encounter a situation in which the organization would be best served by building its own quantum infrastructure.”
Is Buying Quantum Control Electronics Better?
The beauty of such a nascent industry, like the quantum computing industry, is many companies, from start ups to large organizations, have the options to either buy or make their own quantum control electronic devices. As Holland has found, depending on cash flow for each business, picking one side or the other can be better for the business. “For example, universities, for the most part, no longer make PCs or chips like they did in the 1980s as part of the MOSIS initiative, yet these technologies remain important tools for deploying other technologies,” Holland stated. “Because they are no longer core to the mission, universities rely on solution provider partners to develop, maintain, and provide PCs and transformers.” As Holland finds through his own research and experiences, the process of buying seemed to serve companies and institutions better than going through the making process. Because of this, Holland recommends that both the academic and private sector seriously consider buying instead of making these quantum control electronics. “No institution wants to play catch up, particularly when it comes to a technology with quantum’s disruptive potential,” he added. “However, giving in to doubts about buying and choosing to do it alone is not only a costly mistake; it is one that will curtail the organization’s quantum success and leave it continually a step behind the competition.”
Because of his belief that buying will be more successful in the long-term, Holland does emphasize the importance of reliable “making” partners for the quantum control electronics, showing that making does still have an importance within the industry. As he explained: “The quantum vendor landscape will only grow more crowded as the technology matures, so the trick is selecting the right partner who is committed to ongoing innovation and aligned with the organization’s goals.”
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, the metaverse, and quantum technology.