So nothing gets us computers geeks more excited than the possibility of Quantum Computers.  I took some time to attend a Google Hangout this morning, May 29th @4am by ScienceAlert  where they were discussing the creation of the Quantum Bit and what this means for the future of Quantum Computing.  This Hangout is available now on YouTube  http://youtu.be/NkWTrcwHaMI.  While most people are talking abou the implications for things like encryption, my mind went right to “what will this mean for the cloud?”  Could we soon have Salesforce.com Enterprise, Unlimited and QUANTUM editions?

Man Holding an Atom

Safe Harbor Statement:  Comercial Quantum Computers are still largely theoretical.  Do not make purchasing decisions based on the theoretical possibility of future computer systems that use entanglement and the superposition of state for quantum particles to process all possible solutions simultaneously by co-operating with versions of itself in alternate universes.  (Salesforce you can use this disclaimer in your SHS for free if you like!)

Now, I understand the implications to RSA Encoding for public key encryption.  I found a great example of this on www.askamathematician.com.  It basically said if you have a number like PQ=7,323,443,213 (where the encryption key M = is the product of two prime numbers P and Q) it would take a Quantum Computer about 1 second to factor and 1 second for a powerful standard computer.  If you make that 2x as long and a billion times larger like PQ=5,347,905,121,457,778,013 it would take a Quantum Computer about 2 seconds to factor and a powerful standard computer 32 years.  Crazy right?  Well wait, if you make that 3x as long and a billion billion times bigger like PQ=2,654,348,900,361,474,778,451,121,009 it woud take the Quantum Computer a whopping 3 seconds, but the most powerful computers available today would take approximately 2 * the age of the universe.

So this is what prompted me to reach out to my friends in the Salesforce community and start brainstorming!  Putting security aside for a moment what do you think some of the implications of Quantum Computing would be on the Force.com Platform.  Would the standard data storage for Quantum edition go from 1 Gigabyte to 1 Petabyte?  Would there be a need for governor limits?  What would a Quantum Database even look like?

Quantum Query Governor Limits:  We all look forward to Salesforce releases where governor limits are able to be increased while maintaining performance.  One reason for governor limits is the basic limitation of binary or half-interval searches.  In traditional databases we need to find the position of specific value and it must be within a sorted array.  Now, what if this were unnecessary?   What if instead, with the superposition of states, we were able to search all items in our database at once?  Welcome to Quantum computing.

Increased Data Storage Limits:  Right now new Salesforce Orgs include 1 Gigabyte of data storage.  Of course you can buy more, but for large volumes of data this can get costly.   Storage space has become significantly less expenses since the 80’s when 1 Gigabyte of storage could cost nearly $1 million dollars.  But even today as the size of data sets grow, so does the cost.  Think about 1 Terrabyte of information or 243  bits (2 * 2 repeated 43 times!).  Now, say we were to store data on 500 qubits, or Quantum Bits.  500 qubits would be 2501 that’s a lot of zero’s!

Quantum Analytics Edition:  I don’t think I can even imagine what Salesforce Analytics edition might look like using Quantum Computers, but I’m sure going to try.  Have you ever run a report and received a time out error because the data set was too large?  Well, you can kiss those days goodbye when every single record can be evaluated simultaneously at run time!  What if a new Google for Salesforce Quantum integration could load all of the available news sources so that Opportunity stages could be automatically adjusted based on the probability of closing considering every possible scenario and outside influence!  (And yes, Google is one of the private companies investing heavily in Quantum Computer research)

Okay, I know I went a little too far with that last one.  However, when you consider how much technology has changed over the last 20 years, the possibilities seem endless.  When you think how Salesforce only recently reached it’s teenage years and has already grown into one of the strongest cloud computing platforms in the world, it’s hard to stop yourself from imagining what could be over the next horizon.