OVH, innovation, state failure: the French cloud

Posted on November 21, 2021


By Francois Jolain.

The podcast article is available here.

With OVH’s IPO on October 15, it’s time to take an interest in the ecosystem clouds in France. We can see that OVH is not alone. The clouds France, though behind the United States, remains well -organized in Europe.

The history of OVH reflects the history of the internet

OVH became the leader in clouds in Europe. This is a success story in France. A young entrepreneur, Octabe Klaba decided to start in 1999 with clouds. He created a company in Roubaix that became a multinational and a pioneer in its field.

Because yes, in the emerging internet, OVH is a leader. Instead of installing its server at home, OVH offers to rent its own, hence the name of the company On Vous Héberge (OVH). So thousands of individuals and professionals can easily host their mailbox or website.

OVH has evolved into hosting blogs or e-commerce sites. The need then drops to renting the same server for a few months, or even years, to host the website.

Unfortunately for OVH, the internet grew rapidly with the arrival of Amazon in 2006 and its revolutionary offer of clouds elastic. Can rent servers in a minute, turn on and off in seconds. This flexibility becomes key for platforms clouds like Netflix. Their infrastructure continues to adapt to the workload.

After a few years, the flexibility has greatly improved no server. In this case, the site will be deployed automatically without having to configure any server. With the no serverthe server is lost in the developer’s view: he deposits his code and as if by magic, the host gives him a URL to access the deployed platform.

This double revolution has left solid players like OVH on the floor. Amazon, Microsoft and Google are the big winners. Now, although OVH has recovered, the damage is done. A good portion of CAC40 switched to GAFAs for their needs clouds.

The French cloud is not limited to OVH

With its size and its media coverage (especially during the blackout), OVH is the tree hiding the forest from clouds French. A brief overview of the different actors.

Scaleway is a small OVH. Its size leaves it in the shadows, but it allows it to adapt more quickly to revolutions and thus gain market share.

Outscale is a subsidiary of Dassault System launched in 2010 following Snowden’s revelations. This clouds sovereignty is intended for critical actors. It is SecNumCloud certified for its security by the National Agency for Information Systems Security (ANSSI).

Qarnot offers a clouds not typical because its servers are in the form of the radiator of our homes. So the heat released by the calculation is used for heating.

Even the Naval Group has just set foot on clouds. The company was the first to design clouds immersed in the world in partnership with Microsoft.

We should also keep in mind heavy development and outsourcing like Atos, Sopra or Capgemini.

The state of France has always been true to itself

For those who are still skeptical about the ability of the State outside of sovereignty, the clouds French is a sketch.

The government started by immediately sabotaging the ecosystem with heavy regulation. For example, in 2000, host Altern had to shut down because French law required it to control the 21,893 sites it hosted. Then the digital entrepreneurs left for California. The last straw (fiscal) came in 2012 with Hollande and inspired the Pigeon Movement.

By some sort of miracle, the OVH national champion was still able to get away with it. The government, which obviously does not want to clouds at home showed total disinterest in the French nugget.

For example, in 2011, the State launched the Andromeda project with the aim of building a clouds sovereign. But instead of combining the championship, the State decided to create two competitors: CloudWatt (Orange & Thales) and Numergy (SFR & Bull). After investing 285 million euros, they both went out of business for several years.

This apathy in its own ecosystem is still present, as the State has chosen Microsoft to host France’s health data (Health Data Hub).

The clouds Therefore, the French are present with it french touch. It brings together heavyweight and innovative companies. The State supports them like the snare that supports the hanged.

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