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The hyper-scalers in the cloud market build, or at least design, their own infrastructure to ensure they provide the optimum platform for cloud offerings. While nobody questions such companies' actions, OVH has been questioned as to why it builds its own infrastructure. The thrust of the questioning is that, as OVH is significantly smaller than the hyper-scalers, surely therefore it is less of an advantage and more of a cost to build its own infrastructure? Ovum spent two days with OVH, and received a detailed insight into the process and value that OVH's approach to cloud brings to both the company, and the customer.

Sustainable business model enables scale with confidence, with no compromise on quality and service

OVH believes that customers use a particular cloud service because it delivers value to their business, with this value increasing if there is a mutual trust between supplier and customer. Ovum agrees that if the relationship between supplier and customer remains purely contractual, with penalties for changing supplier, then the business model of using cloud technology has not altered significantly, and the customer feels trapped, or locked in, to a supplier.

The business model that OVH has adopted is based on reusing old industrial properties and being able to transform them to fully working data centers quickly, and using "open source" software to reduce costs to the customer. The key principle behind this approach is the adherence to a standard design methodology that is based on a water-cooled horizontal rack of compute and storage. OVH not only designs the infrastructure, but has built an impressive manufacturing capability that can scale to 400,000 units per year. By having full control of the supply chain, OVH can ensure quality, performance, and predictability of supply so that it can build and ship a rack of servers and storage in under two weeks from the date an order is placed, to the resource being available to use.

OVH's real advantage over the hyper-scalers is that it is a European company that can ensure customers' data is not accessible to the US federal authorities under the Patriot Act. OVH has a separate company that runs its US-based data centers for US customers, and uses Canada as the bridge for European customers wanting better data regulatory control, but access to US customers. While much of OVH is serving bare metal, as well as VMware environments or OpenStack public cloud, it has launched a managed Kubernetes service so that it offers its customers the ability to run cloud-native workloads alongside more traditional virtual machines.

Ovum believes that OVH is sufficiently differentiated from the other cloud providers that it has few direct competitors. In fact, its SMART cloud approach (Simple, Multi-local, Accessible, Reversible, and Transparent) clearly resonates with its customers as it states it has 3,000 clients worldwide on its VMware private cloud alone. Ovum considers OVH's two standout capabilities to be its multilocal and reversable cloud offerings. Multilocal means it operates globally but adheres to local laws, regulations, and customs, while reversable means there is no cost for people to leave, and in fact they can even take the workload and run it in their own environment as everything in OVH is based on open standards with no insidious proprietary integrations.


Further reading

Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Management Solution, 2018–19, INT003-000062 (March 2018)


Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions

[email protected]