European cloud provider expanding in Canada

TORONTO – Canada has become Roubaix, France-based cloud provider OVH Group’s starting point for North American business expansion. The company has opened its Toronto office to look after its client base not just in Ontario, but also the rest of Canada.

OVH CEO Laurent Allard told CDN the company is looking to take care of its English-speaking customers with data centre services, business development and support. The company established its presence in Canada with the opening of a data centre in the Quebec town of Beauharnois back in 2012. This data centre has the capacity of more than 260,000 servers, making it one of the largest in the country. The company also has point of presence access at Equinix Canada at its TR2 data centre in Toronto.

After four years in Canada, Allard said OVH is just starting to explore the opportunity inside the country. “We are at the beginning as we wanted first to develop the French speaking part of Canada,” he said. “But after that we realized the size of the opportunity in Canada specifically with Ontario and the western provinces.”

Laurent Allard, CEO of OVH Group at a Toronto kick off event
Laurent Allard, CEO of OVH Group at a Toronto kick off event

OVH has already invested more than $30 million in the country, and has strategic partnerships with three Canadian companies: Rogers, Toronto MSP LinkByNet and Quebec-area open source solution provider Savior-Faire Linux. Rogers acts as a reseller of OVH public cloud enterprise solutions coast-to-coast. LinkByNet and Savior-Faire Linux are listed as technology partners and share office space with OVH inside its Markham, Ont.-based facility.

Cedric Combey, vice president of sales and marketing for OVH Canada, said they are looking to grow its partner base significantly in the country. “You cannot attack a country like Canada without partners. We want to partner with companies who can provide end-to-end services as we are complimentary. We are a pure player in infrastructure,” Combey said.

OVH is developing a new channel program for the expansion to be unveiled in the spring of 2017. The new program will focus on certification, training and new incentive levels. It will be a tiered program and will help OVH be able to differentiate the partners they do work with today.

“We need to rewire them to see who are just reselling, who are adding value and who are integrating,” Combey said.

OVH has more than 3,000 customers in Canada. Globally the company has reached the one million client milestone. They work in 40 countries – predominately in Europe, but with presence in the Middle East and Asia. The Beauharnois data centre, for example, has attracted several clients from Mexico, Brazil and Singapore.

“Clearly Canada has become an entry port for access to many different markets and it will help us develop our business in the U.S.,” he said. “We already get traffic from the U.S. and other countries, but we are happy to be the first to create a North American presence from Canada.”

Currently OVH sports 20 data centres worldwide. OVH intends to expand by three more data centres this year in Singapore, Warsaw and Sydney, Australia. The following year OVH has an aggressive data centre expansion plan that will see then open 10 new facilities, the first of which will be in Ashburn, Va., followed by Germany, Italy, Spain, England and the Netherlands. OVH intends to spend approximately 1.5 billion Euros on this expansion plan and Canada, specifically Ontario, might be part of the company’s second wave of data centre growth.

Allard said a new data centre in Ontario is has not been planned, but the province is a good candidate for future expansion.

“We have a basic, but fundamental, approach to this; we go where the clients are,” he said. “And Ontario is an important location because we have a lot of customers here and we want to develop our customer’s business.”

One of the main reasons for the Canadian expansion is that Allard has seen a trend in increased volume of data and services. One example is a train manufacturer SNCF in France. OVH is hosting their ticketing Web site and SNCF ( Société nationale des chemins de fer français) is the main train system in the country. SNCF gets 1.5 million visits per day and delivers tickets within 20 seconds. This type of volume needs to be treated in a secure way, while also having an attractive cost. This trend, Allard added, is one of the main drivers for the expansion.

He also said legacy businesses are estimated at more than $110 billion a year worldwide, just for infrastructure costs, while cloud is just at $15 billion per year.

“Cloud is just 10 per cent of the entire infrastructure costs,” Allard said. “What does it mean? About 85 per cent of the spend is still out of the cloud and that is a huge opportunity to deliver the cloud, securely and in a private or hybrid environment that is flexible.”

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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