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CloudBank Initiative Offers Researchers Access to Quantum Computing Resources

Published November 17, 2022

CloudBank – a cloud access entity that helps the computer science community access and use public clouds for research and education via managed services – is designed to simplify access to emerging computational resources such as quantum computing.

“Getting access to quantum computing resources can be challenging,” said Deputy Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center Shawn Strande. “Fortunately, public cloud providers are at the forefront of making these resources available to the community, and CloudBank with well-developed public cloud integration processes and tools makes it much easier to access and use these resources.”

Earlier this year, in a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the National Science Foundation announced its expansion of the CloudBank program to any active awardee funded by the Computer Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate. It also streamlined the process for cloud requests.

A subsequent DCL letter focused on the accessibility of quantum computing resources was distributed in June and, while that specific opportunity has closed, researchers can still request quantum resources as active CISE awardees. This type of request is just-in-time as opposed to requiring PIs to budget for resources at the time of proposal submission in the hopes of maximizing the elasticity of the cloud and providing users with computing cycles when they need them.

“Quantum computing represents a new paradigm in computation that utilizes the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform calculations. For some problems, quantum computers hold a promise to provide computational power that traditional computers will not be able match,” said NSF Quantum Program Officer Almadena Chtchelkanova. “In physical science, computer science and engineering – fields underpinning quantum technologies required to build a quantum computer – the U.S. National Science Foundation is the largest government sponsor for basic research at colleges and universities in the United States.”

To enable the quantum research support CloudBank uses several platforms: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. Examples of CloudBank research projects include Colorado State University’s study on high-speed turbulent flows. Led by Stephen Guzik and Xinfeng Gao, researchers are investigating the possibility of using quantum algorithms to approximate the fine-scale dynamics of turbulent flows, something that is extraordinarily difficult and expensive using classical processors.

“CloudBank facilitates access to emerging quantum processing technologies. For complex calculations, the quantum algorithms must be executed within a larger traditional high-performance computing environment, from both a software and hardware perspective,” said Guzik. “Cloudbank provides flexible access to these technologies even as they undergo rapid evolution in this nascent stage of quantum computing.”

According to Shava Smallen, computational and data research specialist at SDSC and co-PI of the NSF CloudBank project, CloudBank lowers barriers-to-entry and reduces friction for academic work in the cloud, supporting a range of users who look to the cloud for their computational work – from researchers and educators to small private colleges and large public institutions, as well as cloud beginners and pioneering experts.

”Over the past year, we have seen increased growth in the number of researchers using CloudBank to access public cloud resources thanks to the new funding model provided by the Dear Colleague Letters,” said Smallen. “It has been exciting to onboard these new quantum researchers as they learn to use these unique resources and we are thankful to our partners at AWS, Azure, and IBM for their excellent support.” 

CloudBank was co-developed by SDSC at UC San Diego, UC Berkeley and the University of Washington with industry collaborator Strategic Blue, which helps researchers in the U.S. economically adopt their choice of cloud with fewer procurement challenges.

About SDSC

The San Diego Supercomputer Center is a leader and pioneer in high-performance and data-intensive computing, providing cyberinfrastructure resources, services and expertise to the national research community, academia and industry. Located on the UC San Diego campus, SDSC supports hundreds of multidisciplinary programs spanning a wide variety of domains, from astrophysics and earth sciences to disease research and drug discovery.

About the University of Washington eScience Institute

Established in 2008, the University of Washington eScience Institute was one of the first campus units nationally and internationally focused on advancing data-intensive scientific discovery through the close coupling of methodology and applications research and education.

About UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society

Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society connects computing, statistics, ethics, the humanities, and social and natural sciences to accelerate breakthrough education and research across scientific and technological frontiers. Berkeley’s Data Science Education Program pioneered the use of the cloud at scale, providing thousands of students with easy access to computational resources and serving as a model for universities across the world.

About Strategic Blue

Strategic Blue offers tailored cloud financial management services as a reseller of Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Platform and other leading cloud vendors, and helps organizations better understand and control their cloud costs to allow the best use of their budgets. For more information, please visit