OVH may not be a business you have heard of but it’s a business you should have on your radar. OVH is the number one hosting business in Europe, above 1&1 and Rackspace, and has significant in-roads into the US and Canadian hosting market, and has ambitious plans for growth. In a keynote at its recent European conference in Paris, CEO, Laurent Allard painted a picture of a business that’s growing fast, with an ambition to be, “the leader in digital-as-a-service.” With OVH’s plan for the foreseeable future including “massively investing in enhancing its current products and services and increasing capacity.”
For those of you who don’t know them, OVH is a 15-year-old, profitable, privately-owned business with 930,000 customers’ worldwide, with 18 million applications hosted from 17 data centres based across Europe, Canada, and North America. Their revenues are largely based on monthly subscription revenue from hosting – they don’t reveal what part cloud plays - and they are obsessively focussed on technology - in the same way that one of its main competitors is obsessively focussed on customers.
Unlike many cloud businesses OVH was set up by a self-confessed technology geek, Octave Klaba, who in January of this year stood down as CEO after 15 years, to take over the role as CTO. Although while he has taken the role of CTO, the impression given by the keynote and press conference after was, Klaba is still central to the businesses strategy and seems to still have a very firm guiding hand in the business. He watches over 16 different technology departments with over 200+ techies at his command and works on projects from cloud to fibre broadband. Klaba is also a cloud-evangelist and believes “we are living in a digital revolution where everything is moving to the cloud.”
The biggest announcement at the recent OVH summit was a massive expansion of its data centres. Klaba revealed that OVH had data centres planned in Australia, the US and Asia - areas it covers but doesn’t have a significant presence – and further data centres in its heartland of Europe. Altogether the business will be creating 12 new data centres over the next year in Germany, Poland the UK, the Nordic countries, on the East and West coast of the US, Singapore and Australia and they are according to Klaba “working on other ones.” This marks a significant growth in the last year, where it built just two.
Technology-wise OVH is also not afraid to plough its own path; they made 37 technology announcements at the 2014 summit, and like Google and Amazon it chooses to create its own servers - its 17 data centres use 220,000 OVH built-servers - and all its data centres are built and designed by OVH. Additionally it has also recently signed significant close technical partnerships with Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and VMware, something that according to Klaba “nobody else outside of the US can do.“
Intel’s General Manager of Cloud Service Provider Business, Raejeanne Skillern, has called OVH “one of the most aggressive technology developers in the cloud space.” And the chip manufacturer is currently working on a collaboration with OVH, to create an analytics platform based on the open-source Trusted Analytics Platform, Hadoop and Spark.
One of the areas that OVH are spending a lot of time on is the Internet of things (IoT). It has created a reference architecture for IoT devices using Sigfox Network’s long distance radio network, Intel chipsets and its own open source PaaS platform – as well as the Intel analytics platform described above - and is hoping to create a developer community to create IoT solutions, and to kick-start this it’s offering a pot of one million Euros to the top 50 IoT prototypes that can demonstrate a good use for its iot.ovh.com solution.
OVH may not be 100% conventional – both the CTO and CEO (see pic above right) picked up guitars at the end of the Paris Summit and started to play a selection of ‘90s and noughties indie hits including Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Foo Fighters numbers– or that well known in the English-speaking regions, but by this time next year expect that to change significantly, and by 2020 expect them to be significantly bigger than they are now. Allard predicted that the business would increase employee numbers to over 3000 with a quadrupling of turnover.
For more info on OVH see OVH's video on their US data centre below