How the fire from Strasbourg-based company OVHCloud set the French Internet on fire?

The essentials The location of the company OVHCloud in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) was the subject of a major fire. There are a large number of websites here that go well beyond France. This had major consequences for many websites.

Thousands of websites were hit by major disruptions on Wednesday March 10th after a spectacular fire that devastated OVHcloud’s “data centers” in Strasbourg overnight. Some of their customers now fear permanent data loss. In a press release, the company, which is one of the world’s leading providers of “cloud” and web hosting, sincerely apologized to the affected customers and promised to implement solutions to reduce the unavailability of the Strasbourg location.

This fire and the associated power outage had an impact well beyond France’s borders, reminding users that data hosted on the digital cloud (cloud) is physically stored in “data centers” and therefore vulnerable.

Throughout the morning, very different structures such as the French Bitcoin trading specialist Coinhouse, the Center Pompidou or the public data access platform data.gouv.fr reported disruptions, sometimes only temporarily, when accessing their websites or using e-mails. A total of “12,000 to 16,000 customers were affected,” announced OVH.

Some have reported permanent data loss, such as the UK video game studio Facepunch, publisher of Rust. “We are currently investigating the exchange of affected servers,” he announced on Twitter. “The data cannot be recovered”. However, OVHcloud said it couldn’t confirm any final losses: depending on the backups or redundancies subscribed to, “there are as many options as there are customers,” the company said. The latter said he initiated an inventory of the damage after his engineering teams were given permission to enter the damaged premises that afternoon. In the meantime, OVHcloud has recommended that its customers initiate their “Disaster Recovery Plan” when their data is hosted in Strasbourg.

The fire broke out at 12:47 p.m. in one of the 4 OVHcloud data centers installed in the industrial area of ​​Port du Rhin, east of the Alsatian capital, not far from the German border. It mobilized significant resources, including 115 fire fighters and 44 machines, police officers and civil security agents as well as German resources. “The fire spread quickly inside the building. We set up an important hydraulic device with a powerful pump boat (which draws water from the Rhine, editor’s note) to prevent it from spreading to adjacent buildings,” said Damien Harroué. Commander of the relief operations.

Aside from wooden floors, “these are plastics that generate significant smoke and flames,” he added. The firefighters carried out pollution tests in the atmosphere, which made it possible to rule out a risk of contamination. The OVHcloud site, which is on a plot of land previously inhabited by ArcelorMittal, is not classified as Seveso, unlike other sites in the industrial area.

Founded in 1999 under the name OVH, OVHcloud began hosting websites before launching “cloud” (outsourced data storage) services in the 2010 decade. With some other players, this company carries the hopes of the European cloud against the American and Chinese giants of this sector that has become strategic for the digital economy. She announced Monday that she was preparing for a possible IPO.

The group employs 2,450 people, half of whom are in France, and operates 32 data centers worldwide with a turnover of 600 million euros in 2019 (latest version).

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