OVHcloud does not want to live the sovereign cloud fiasco


The OVHcloud Summit, which will be held on Thursday, October 10 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, will celebrate the 20 years of OVH, aka "We're Hosting You? "Or" Oles Van Herman ", the nickname of Octave Klaba, the founder of the company that will now be called OVHcloud, a sign of an internationalization of the company born in a basement of Iliad in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.

An edition that will be an opportunity to come back « on this epic (…) which allowed us to become one of the world leaders of the cloud ", announced Octave Klaba and his CEO Michel Paulin, who joined OVH a year ago to accelerate the internationalization of the company founded in 1999 and today member of Next40. We propose to return to five key points of this epic.

Iliad's support for KKR and Towerbrook holdings

Twenty years after its creation, OVH has 30 data centers in 12 cities worldwide (in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, the United States, Canada, Singapore and Australia). Five more are under construction, including India and South Korea. With 2,200 employees worldwide, the Roubaix-based company, which is home to part of the Octave Klaba family, now boasts 1.5 million customers and 3.8 million hosted sites in the world. After a turnover of 500 million euros in fiscal year 2017-2018, it claims a turnover of 600 million euros over the period 2018-2019.

To get there, OVH has gone through several development phases (each with their ups and downs):

  • In 2000, the startup, then one of the first European hosting companies, saw its activity take off. With the support of Xavier Niel and Iliad, Octave Klaba is developing an offer for small businesses, SMEs and startups. The strength of the offer: short delivery times and reduced dependence on suppliers at a time when web hosting was a laborious business activity. OVH is also developing an innovative cooling system that works with water pumped into groundwater, then passed through its data center (rented) to lower the temperature of the motherboards.
  • From 2004 and 2009, OVH expanded into Europe with subsidiaries in Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. Octave Klaba also decides to move the company's head office from Paris to Roubaix and builds its first data center there. The first fiber optic network is also deployed and OVH officially becomes a telecom.
  • From 2010, the northern company seeks to diversify its business: it is the beginning of the cloud era for OVH with a first private cloud offering. In 2011, OVH develops a public cloud offer based on OpenStack. The webhost, now the first in Europe, then exceeds Europe in 2012 with the opening of offices and data centers in the United States and Canada. It builds a year later in Gravelines the largest data center in Europe, with 400,000 servers.
  • In 2016, international expansion is confirmed: OVH raises 250 million euros from American funds KKR & Co (specialist in family businesses like OVH and European entrepreneurs) and TowerBrook Capital Partners (adapted to companies run by their founder) against a minority stake, and signed a year later a € 400 million line of credit with JP Morgan Chase, CIC Nord Ouest and Commercial Bank North Europe. In 2017, the company acquires vCloudAir, VMware's public cloud.
  • In September 2017, OVH announces its intention to recruit up to 13,000 people worldwide by 2025 to reach 5 billion euros of turnover. The northern company also said it wanted to reach 4,200 employees by the end of 2019, as part of a freshly launched recruitment plan focused on France. Ambitions revised downward this year: Octava Klaba reported in a blog post last June of "recruitment errors » and discouraged blitzscaling.

A new management team to land as a credible cloud alternative to AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud

In the summer of 2018, to accelerate the internationalization of OVH, Octave Klaba chooses a CEO telecom champion, Michel Paulin, former CEO of SFR. Its mission is to implement the "Smart Cloud" strategic plan, which aims to consolidate OVHcloud's positioning as a credible cloud alternative to AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Octave Klaba remains Chairman of the Board. The new strongman of the European host has realized most of his career in telecoms, IT and the web. He supervised the listing of Neuf Cegetel when he was CEO (before managing Meditel and SFR).

The appointment of Michel Paulin reflects OVH's desire to surround itself with key people and technical profiles to ensure its growth. Thus Sylvain Rouri, former senior vice president of global sales at Survey Sampling International and sales director at France Telecom, becomes chief sales officer at OVH at the end of 2017. His mission is to implement the global sales strategies of the company. by directing direct and indirect sales.

Alain Fiocco, former Cisco CTO and former Alcatel, joined OVHcloud early 2018 as a CTO. He is responsible for managing the product units, R & D, as well as the deployment of OVHcloud products and solutions. The company had previously surrounded in March 2017 Dominique Michiels as chief service delivery officer. Formerly of Worldline, he oversees the services of OVH. In July 2017, OVH also recruited Francois Sterin, formerly of Google and France Telecom, as chief industrial officer. It drives the technical infrastructure of the company. In August of the same year, it is Frédéric Etheve, who made his weapons at France Telecom, McKinsey & Company and Google, which joins the ranks of the host. In 2018, Miroslaw Klaba, brother of Octave and until then CTO of the company, takes the functions of chief information officer.

The company has also found a new chief financial officer (in January 2019) in the person of Yann Leca, with nearly 30 years of financial positions in various companies of various sizes, a new chief human resources officer (in December 2018 ) with Line Cadel, hitherto HR business partner manager, and a new chief legal officer (in May 2018) with Adam Smith, formerly of Safran, DCNS and Airbus.

How OVHcloud has risen to the level of its American rivals

OVH still relies on what has been its strength over the past 20 years: the focus on developing an integrated model, a strong ability to innovate, and a choice to focus on regulation (compete with Amazon and Google is not necessarily easy).

In terms of innovation, the company has for example a 14,000 square meter factory in Croix, dedicated to manufacturing, logistics and R & D. The annual production rate of servers, previously 120,000, is now 400,000 servers.

Today, with a view to making OVH an indispensable part of the company's cloud strategies, the company has also planned to present its new OVHCloud Marketplace at its peak. It will have the ambition of " bring together and offer all the offers of an ecosystem of companies sharing the same vision of mutual aid, sharing and co-construction ", announces OVH. The marketplace will propose a " selection of offers and solutions based on OVHcloud infrastructures and supported by a network of selected partner-sellers ».

OVH will also be able to detail its new infrastructure game launched in late September, six months after the complete overhaul of its dedicated server offering. This new range, which offers four configurations, intends to answer " the scalability and performance needs of medium-sized enterprises, administrations or universities, in particular to build clustered server architectures or manage large databases ", details OVH.

The event will finally allow OVH to detail its new products and offers, including: OVH solutions for the health sector; OVHcloud Prescience, a machine learning tool that aims to accelerate machine learning projects for companies (launched last April); Enterprise Cloud Databases, a new "as a Service" database offering launched this year; and the latest innovations of the bare metal ranges and the next projects of these ranges.

The " time of ecosystems and communities »

A session of the OVHcloud Summit will be dedicated to OVHcloud partners. Last month, the company expanded its partner program abroad to support partner training, sales support and technical support around OVH solutions.

" The times have changed. We are no longer in a capitalistic relationship, redemptions. We are in the time of ecosystems and communities. Partnerships and platforms »says Octave Klaba in his blog post in June.

" Hence the initiative launched a year ago and that I called 'virtual GAFAM'. (…) If the Europeans make an ecosystem and work together, we can be as strong as the Gafam, while respecting our European values ​​of privacy. This mode of operation better shares the value created and avoids the phenomena of abusive dominance "he adds.

This ambition reflects the new challenges facing OVH: enriching its ecosystem to accentuate its position on big caps. The company has developed successfully on very small businesses. It is now a question of looking for Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte and other Sopra Steria, while developing its historical offer dedicated to start-ups and new technological companies.

OVHCloud does not want to live the sovereign cloud fiasco as experienced by Orange and SFR with CloudWatt and Numergy

In early October, the Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire announced the will of the government to develop an alternative cloud offer to bypass the American Cloud act, law that allows security agencies in the country to requisition from cloud operators data from their customers, even if these data are stored abroad. He has therefore asked Dassault Systèmes (3DS Outscale, a wholly-owned subsidiary since 2017) and OVH to work on setting up a "cloud of trust" capable of receiving data from French and European companies. This new sovereign cloud could be created in collaboration with Germany initially, and eventually at a European level, said Le Mayor.

Octave Klaba and Michel Paulin responded in the affirmative to the call of the government. However, they do not want to repeat past mistakes made by their competitors. In 2011, the government launched the project "Andromeda" (150 million euros investment), the first attempt at a sovereign cloud that ended in failure. The plan led to Cloudwatt projects (led by Orange and Thales, it will be deactivated on February 1, 2020) and Numergy (absorbed by SFR in January 2016).

Octave Klaba said that OVH's vision is not to create a sovereign cloud, but rather a "trusted cloud" dedicated to managing the data of its customers.

In order to develop this new infrastructure, OVH intends to remain free of charge and not rely on state subsidies, whether in the form of subsidies or claims for benefits.

The first proposals from OVH and Dassault Systèmes are expected to be delivered in December 2019.

OVH: key facts

founders: Octave Klaba
Creation: 1999
The head office: Paris
Enrollment: 2,200
Sector: cloud
Walk: internet hosting, cloud, dedicated servers
Turnover: € 600 million in 2018-2019, € 500 million in 2017-2018

Funding: Nearly 650 million euros raised from CIC North West, JP Morgan Chase, Commercial Bank North Europe Market, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, TowerBrook Capital Partners

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