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By Yun-Hee Kim
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2019).
Quantum computers won't replace today's traditional computers, but they will become mainstream within five years, a top executive in charge of emerging technologies at International Business Machines Corp. predicted.
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival Wednesday, Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software, predicted that with quantum computing, batteries could last "a thousand times longer" and airplanes could become lighter.
"All of these use cases, I think, will get solved in a few years," Mr. Krishna said. "Pharmaceuticals and drug discovery is a much harder problem."
Quantum computers have the potential to sort through a vast number of possible solutions -- more than the number of atoms in the universe -- with the calculations being completed as fast as a fraction of a second.
Responding to criticism from researchers that the U.S. may be falling behind China and the European Union to invest in quantum computing, Mr. Krishna said the U.S. is currently slightly ahead but does need to invest more. China is constructing a $10 billion research center for quantum applications. The European Union announced in 2016 that it is creating a EUR1 billion effort on four areas of quantum technology including computing and communication.
Mr. Krishna, who also oversees the integration of IBM's $33 billion acquisition of Red Hat Inc. said he expects the deal -- IBM's largest acquisition to date -- to close around June. The company has received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for the deal, and is now awaiting approval from the European Union.
Asked about restructuring after the acquisition is completed, Mr. Krishna said that it wouldn't result in any job cuts at Red Hat.
"This is a value deal, not about cost synergy. They [Red Hat] run on multiple public clouds. It's got to be preserved," he said.
In the public cloud space, IBM trails rivals Amazon Inc. and Microsoft Corp. IBM ranked fifth in the world for public cloud-infrastructure service in 2017, according to data from Gartner Inc., behind Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba Group Holding Inc. and Google Inc.
But Mr. Krishna said the acquisition creates a big opportunity for IBM to expand in the so-called hybrid cloud space where customers run some software in their own data centers but also use cloud services.
"I'm not trying to catch up to Amazon and Microsoft," he said. "They are going down the path of public cloud and we are going to be hybrid. There is so much investment that's already happening and there is so much data that can't sit on the public cloud. I believe there is space for all of us," he said.
Sara Castellanos contributed to this article.
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May 23, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)
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