France - technology

Fire at French data centre knocks out millions of websites

A building hosting one of OVHcloud's datacentres in Strasbourg was damaged by a fire on 10 March 2021.
A building hosting one of OVHcloud's datacentres in Strasbourg was damaged by a fire on 10 March 2021. © Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Millions of websites in France and around the world have been disrupted by a fire at a could computing facility in Strasbourg belonging to OVHcloud, one of Europe’s largest cloud services providers, which had announced plans for an IPO earlier this week.

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Some 100 firefighters worked to put out the fire that broke out Wednesday shortly after midnight and destroyed one of OVHcloud’s four data centres on the site and damaged another.

Founder and chairman Octave Klaba, updating the situation on Twitter, advised companies to activate their disaster recovery plans.

It’s been the worst day for the last 22 [years]," he wrote, adding that there are no words "strong enough to say how sorry I feel today”.

There was no immediate explanation for the fire.

OVHcloud servers host nearly four million websites, and the company said 12,000-16,000 clients were affected by the fire.

Several companies said their sites had gone offline or could not access their email servers. Paris's Centre Pompidou museum tweeted that its website went down because of the fire.

Service disruptions continued Thursday.

So far there has been no indication of major data losses, as companies had backups of their data in other locations.

The company has apologised, and said it would get the two undamaged data centres back up running by Friday and the third on Monday.

OVHcloud, with 32 data centres around the world, is the largest French cloud service provider. The company had announced on Monday that it was starting the process for an IPO on the Paris stock exchange.

Klaba founded OVH in 1999 as a potential competitor to Amazon and Microsoft, offering a European alternative to US cloud service providers.

If the IPO is completed, it will be France's biggest tech transaction of the year.

(with newswires)

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