OVH Founder: Data Center Fire Incident Shows All Backup Should Be Free

Octave Klaba says the industry should rethink the idea that backups and availability are an extra service that comes at a premium.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

March 17, 2021

2 Min Read
OVH SBG2 data center in Strasbourg destroyed by fire on March 10 2021
OVH SBG2 data center in Strasbourg destroyed by fire on March 10 2021PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images

Octave Klaba, founder of OVH, the European cloud provider one of whose data centers in France perished in a fire last week, said the incident showed that the service-provider industry should rethink the idea that backup should be an additional service customers are charged extra for.

OVH will start providing backups for customers in all its data centers by default, with no extra cost, as a response to the disaster on its campus in Eastern France.

Klaba believes the incident “will change the standard of the industry” and push it toward providing secure backups “by default, without any payment,” he said in a video update on the recovery efforts posted on Twitter Wednesday evening local time.

Many OVH customers that hosted applications at the downed Strasbourg campus complained that they couldn’t bring their applications back online because they didn’t have backups. On Twitter, such complaints were generally met with comments stating that backups and disaster recovery plans are the customer’s responsibility and not the service provider’s.

“It seems that globally, the customers … understand what we are delivering, but some customers, they don’t understand what exactly they bought,” Klaba said in the video.

Instead of attempting to clarify to those customers OVH’s various service level agreement options (“We don’t want to jump in this discussion.”), “we’ll increase security of the backups for all customers in the different data centers,” he said.

“This will be our strategy to answer to this incident that we don’t want to live [through] ever in the future.”

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Investigators Focus on UPS

Investigation into the root cause of the fire is still ongoing, and Klaba said he would provide more information about it on Friday. But the investigators appear to be focused on UPS systems in SBG2, the data center on the four-facility Strasbourg campus where the fire started and that was destroyed completely.

In an earlier update the founder had mentioned that thermal images taken by firefighters who arrived at the scene shortly after the fire started showed two UPS units ablaze.

On Wednesday Klaba said the investigators had extracted UPS units, batteries, and fuses for expertise, as well as surveillance-camera footage.

Recovery

The Strasbourg campus remained mostly offline as of 9 pm local time Wednesday, save for a few racks at SBG1, according to OVH’s status dashboard. Power was restored to all three facilities that survived the fire, according to a status update earlier in the evening.

OVH expects to begin a gradual restart of servers at SBG1 and SBG3 on Friday and SBG4 on Monday.

Replacement servers for the ones that perished in the fire and otherwise damaged as a result of the incident will be deployed at the company’s other data centers around Europe.

Workers at OVH’s European server manufacturing plant (the company makes its own servers) have been working in shifts to produce 15,000 additional servers in a matter of weeks, Klaba said.

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