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How OVHcloud is making APAC data centres cool

How OVHcloud is making APAC data centres cool

CEO Michel Paulin on French company’s plans for Australia and Asia Pacific.

Michel Paulin (OVHcloud)

Michel Paulin (OVHcloud)

Credit: OVHcloud

France's OVHcloud is looking to take on the Asia Pacific (APAC) cloud infrastructure market as it “substantially” ramps up investment in the region. 

The Paris-headquartered infrastructure-as-a-service provider has already stamped its mark with presences in Singapore and Australia but is now set to take that to another level. 

OVHcloud is currently constructing its first water-cooled data centre in Sydney, its third point-of-presence in the city and plans to ramp up its capacity in Singapore. 

“We have a very strong commitment to the APAC region,” OVHcloud CEO Michel Paulin told ARN.  “And we have substantially increased our investment here. We want to address local needs and especially address the new digital needs through cloud technologies.” 

The investment into APAC comes two years after OVHcloud secured €350 million capital injection along with a €1.8 billion support plan by the French government.

According to Paulin, OVHcloud’s key differentiator for partners and customers is its data centre cooling technology which uses water, rather than air conditioning, to cool servers. This, according to Paulin, significantly lowers the power requirements for operations, making customers’ cloud consumption more sustainable. 

The data centre industry has among the highest carbon footprints in the world, and in Australia alone, accounts for approximately 3.9 per cent of the country’s total electricity consumption. 

However, amid environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) requirements, as well as public pressure, partners and customers are increasingly looking to cut their own carbon footprint. 

“For us, it's really very important to address this very fast-growing [APAC] market,” Paulin said. “But we try to do it with innovation and the capacity to provide local solutions long-term and sustainably.” 

OVHcloud has 20 years of experience using water-cooling technology in its data centres, which are built from scratch in Europe, but are housed in co-location centres. In Sydney, OVHcloud currently uses a facility operated by Equinix and one by NextDC, with the new water-cooled facility being built within the latter. 

The decision to leverage two different data centre operators was intentional, as Paulin explained: “We have master and slave type of model back-up system. Using the [NextDC] building was also very important. We decided to be another building to give a remote capacity of having a backup system which will increase the resiliency of our services in the city. It’s better for resiliency and security to have two [locations].” 

In Australia, OVHcloud will have around 10,000 servers in its data centres, which, according to Paulin, come with a “very high” density of CPU, computing and networking storage. Paulin stressed that while OVHcloud uses data centre operators’ warehouse space in APAC, it does not use any of its cooling racks. 

“Usually it's an empty room with all the data centre facilities that we rent,” he explained. “And there we are accustomed to being able to introduce the water-cooling technology to our own operations.” 

Meanwhile, in Singapore, OVHcloud is intending to increase its footprint in its current data centre by 1.5 times. Singapore also serves as OVHcloud’s regional headquarters, which opened in 2020 and now houses 21 people.  

Water cooling is by no means a perfect method, Paulin notes, as it’s also a precious resource. However, he stressed that OVHcloud’s “closed circuit” enables them to use much less water. 

“That’s why we believe it's also a way to address some of the issues of sustainability and we are very proud to introduce innovations to Australia and to be able to address long-term issues of sustainability of resources for our water." 

Sustainability is not the only message Paulin is looking to drive home in APAC. As a European Union- (EU) based company, OVHcloud is also taking the theme of data sovereignty and privacy to its global partners leveraging principles from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

According to Paulin, OVHcloud can deliver strong data privacy and process sensitive data in customers’ private clouds or at its within its own infrastructure using its data centre-as-a-service model. 

“Customers are very concerned about cyber security, as well as their own and their customers’ private and personal data,” he said. “In many countries, and especially in Australia, there has been a massive amount of data stolen by hackers, so it's a rising concern.  

“I think artificial intelligence (AI) will also accelerate the issue of ethics data,” he added. “And what does it mean to legally house data; where is all the data? Who has access to the data and what can you do with the data is something that is becoming more and more important for democracies.” 

Both Australia and Singapore, as well as the rest of APAC, have their own varying regulations for both OVHcloud and its partners to navigate. 

OVHcloud, however, is aiming to help support partners through the bulk of their work with its IaaS through its partner program, which it launched internationally in 2019.

Globally it counts systems integrators such as Capgemini and Deloitte among its partner network, as well as vendors including VMware, Ivan Nutanix, Intel, Nvidia and Nutanix. 

Today, according to Paulin, OVHcloud counts 40 dedicated partners in the APAC which are mainly located in Singapore and Australia. In Paulin’s words, developing deep relationships with partners has so far been a “fruitful” strategy globally, and is one he is keen to replicate in APAC. 

“In APAC we have most of our partners right now. We grew very quickly in the US thanks to partnerships and it’s now time to develop these in APAC.” 

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