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Millions of websites offline after fire at French cloud services firm

SCI & TECH
By Reuters | March 10th 2021
(PHOTO: Reuters)

A fire destroyed some servers and temporarily shutdown others at OVHcloud on Wednesday, just two days after the French cloud computing firm kicked off plans for an initial public offering.

Europe’s largest cloud services provider told clients including the French government, the Centre Pompidou and cryptocurrency exchange Deribit to activate their disaster recovery plans following the blaze in Strasbourg, east France.

The fire, which broke out shortly after midnight, destroyed one of four data centres and damaged another, the company said. The remaining two were shut down to contain the damage.

“We don’t have access to the site. That is why SBG1, SBG3, SBG4 won’t be restarted today,” founder and chairman Octave Klaba said on Twitter, referring to units housing servers.

The company said it would keep clients updated on the causes and consequences of the blaze.

Founded by Klaba in 1999, OVHcloud competes against U.S. giants Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud, which dominate the market.

French politicians have championed OVHcloud as a possible alternative to U.S. cloud services providers, but it has so far lacked the scale and financial clout to dent their market share.

The company said on Monday it had started the process for a potential IPO, without giving details.

The Strasbourg centres were among OVHcloud’s 17 data centres in France, and 32 globally.

Several clients said their websites had gone offline or emails could not be accessed. There was no immediate news of any major data losses.

The Centre Pompidou, one of France’s best known art complexes, said its website was down. Cryptocurrency exchange Deribit said its blog was down but that trading had not been impacted, free chess server Lichess.org said it had lost 24-hours worth of games history and news outlet eeNews Europe said its websites were offline.

PR agency Caroline Charles Communication said its data was held at another site but that it had lost access to emails in the middle of Paris Fashion Week.

OVHcloud declined to comment on its fire safety protocols. The site did not pose a toxic risk, it added.

Some 100 firemen fought the blaze which sent a thick plume of black smoke into the night sky. Video images showed firefighters dousing one smouldering, multi-storey building in the early morning as they cooled down the site.

“The goal is to create a plan to restart, at least SBG3/SBG4, maybe SBG1. To do so, we need to check the network rooms too,” Klaba said in an update shortly after 0900 GMT.

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