Apple’s Olivier Sanche Passes Away

It’s a sad day for the data center industry. Olivier Sanche, an industry veteran who most recently headed the data center team at Apple, passed away on Thursday. Friends indicated that Sanche suffered a heart attack.

Sanche was a thought leader in data center energy efficiency, and used his expertise to streamline operations at many of the world’s largest technology companies, making a major collective impact on the industry’s carbon output in the process. He joined Apple in August 2009 as Director of Global Data Center Operations, a role in which he oversaw the preparations of Apple’s new $1 billion data center in North Carolina. Olivier also headed data center teams at AT&T, Telecity Group and eBay prior to moving to Apple.

His last major project at eBay was heading design and construction on the company’s “Topaz” data center in South Jordan, Utah, which this week received LEED Gold certification for its sustainable construction.

Nokia’s Mike Manos called Sanche’s untimely death a “huge loss” in an appreciation at Loose Bolts. “He was a thoughtful man, a great father and husband, and a great friend,” writes Manos. “He was incredibly intelligent, and although he might disagree, you could count on him to champion the free discussion of ideas.”

Dave Ohara shares some of his memories of Olivier over at the Green Data Center Blog. “Olivier loved being at Apple as he could do things he could get done nowhere else,” Dave writes. “He had vision, passion, and drive to do the right thing, especially for the environment.”

Sanche liked to say that “no data center is more efficient than the one you don’t have to build.” He favored taking a holistic view of data center efficiency that examined all aspects of data center operation.

Sanche graduated from the Institut des Sciences de l’Ingenieur de Montpellier in France with a dual Masters degree in Computer Science Engineering and Management.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Christian Belady

    I am devastated by this loss. Olivier has been a great change agent and thought leader for our industry. His untimely departure is a huge loss and will be missed by us all. I feel thankful to have gotten to know him in the past couple of years. My thoughts are with his family.

  2. Andy Broer

    I am stunned by the news. Olivier and I met when he came to Cisco as a client with eBay and then shared the stage at an AFCOM NorCal event. We became friends and I will miss him personally as well as professionally. He was very pragmatic and had a great sense of humor. We had lunch at Apple a few months back... I am so happy to have known him, but saddened by his early exit. All my best to his family. He will be missed by many.

  3. On behalf of Anixter, our thoughts and prayers go out to Olivier's team at Apple, friends and especially to his family. I personally have only had the pleasure of meeting Olivier once recently. I remember commenting after our meeting about how much I appreciated his open, honest and direct approach because you had no doubt where you stood and his expectations were moving forward. I certainly understand why he was so well respected by many. May he rest in Peace.

  4. Very sad news, Olivier was one of my friends. He did a great job managing the At&t data centers. My thoughts to his family, Philippe

  5. A terrible day with terrible news. Not only was Olivier an incredible representative for all us data center geeks, but also funny, respectful of his peers and genuinely sincere in his enthusiasm for our industry and the people that make it work. He will be deeply missed.

  6. Olivier was true gentleman and thought leader. We will miss him very much. I had so much respect for his opinions and his energy to make things happen. This is very sad news but I'm sure he would want us to continue to make things better and do the very best that we can.

  7. belliot sylvere

    Salut l'ami. Will remember of you picking up your tomatoes,and showing my son how to built a lego set . very sad lost. adieu

  8. eagle1613

    A very sad news for the Data Center Industry. All my thoughts go to his familiy. Rest In Peace.

  9. I first met Olivier while visiting the London Colo and he carried himself as a professional. Over the years, we kept in touch and would see each other at some of the same conferences, it really is a small world. Data Centers were his passion, we often shared ideas with one another, and continued to keep in touch over the years. We had some great conversations and I can say that he definately loved his young family. A great business professional, husband, and father. You will definately be missed!

  10. This crazy 24/7 business is filled with truly driven people. Olivier set a new standard in constantly striving to meet the demands of the business, on time and on budget – but more profoundly in a sustainable way – always leading, always pushing, always challenging. I worked with him in building the Topaz Data Center for eBay. He was a demanding client – the best kind – and became a good friend. He cited his young daughter many times and their joint concern for the environment. With a smile he would say, “I have to report back on what I’ve done to save the polar bears today at bedtime. “ It was a glimpse into the full circle of passion and harmony that few achieve. I have no words to express the profound loss and sorrow. I am sure I echo the thoughts of many… We as an industry cannot let the passion he brought fade. I would like to join the Green Grid and other groups in fully supporting an Olivier Sanche Sustainability Award given out each year to a recipient in the industry for having the biggest impact in lowering the environmental footprint of IT infrastructure. To those groups who have already had similar thoughts, let’s connect. He will be deeply missed. Let’s make sure we keep his passion with us.

  11. Daniel Costello

    Oliver was very passionate and vocal in everything he did. He once apologized to me for going on about the environment for 30 minutes and how we could reduce our impact. I asked him how else would like-minded people meet? I strive to have his passion. He also had a good sense of humor, when I once asked him for a referral and what was his official title he referred to himself as the “Data Center Emperor”. The Emperor will be sorely missed.

  12. Pat Darisme

    Olivier was a truly good person. He treated everyone with respect and kindness. He was a good man and a good father. Though he will be missed, he taught me generosity, kindness and respect - lessons that I strive to live daily. He's a good man!! Merci Olivier pour la glace que tu as achetee a ma fille ;-) c'etait tres simple mais tres sympathique !!!

  13. :-( very sad to know. May his soul rest in peace.

  14. Jeez this is horrible to hear. I have been gone from the industry for a while and have been terrible about keeping in touch. I worked with Olivier on Topaz (insurance and risk management), and had kept in touch with him when he went to Apple. Sorry to hear about his passing.