#OVHSummit 2017: keynote speech by Octave Klaba, founder and CEO of OVH

Read the speech by Octave Klaba, founder and CEO of OVH. Keynote address to the 2017 OVH Summit on 17th October 2017, in Paris.

This year, OVH is celebrating its 18th birthday. Adulthood. We’ve made it, we’ve grown up. We have already built a lot of things and now everything is moving faster. For me, this is just the beginning. We are striding into adulthood and entering a new phase. I have a feeling that this is when I’m really going to enjoy myself.

A long-term strategy, because OVH is here to stay

It is no accident that OVH is already a success. From the beginning, we have been looking at the long term. This is why our strategy has always translated into heavy investments. Not short-term leases. Not a six-month, one- or two-year vision. No, long term: ten years, twenty years. And now we are continuing down this path, only on a global scale. OVH has all the funding we need, and we can easily accelerate further. How much we invest entirely depends on you. If tomorrow you ask us for 100,000 more servers or 100 million virtual machines, well, we will be able to deliver! This is what gives us peace of mind in terms of our ability to stick around. Yes, OVH is here to stay.

As the managing director of OVH, my job is to understand the changes you are going through. I need to be able to prepare for the changes in your business models and what you will need. Why? So that OVH can evolve too, and keep being there for you. And you know what? I love this job! I see a lot of similarities between a managing director and a developer. Yes, a developer! Instead of developing a piece of software with algorithms, or manipulating data using code executed on thousands of servers, my job is to organise a kind of “human software”, via a body of several thousand employees who evolve and mature within the company in order to meet your needs. All day every day, I think about how to encode the passion of our employees so we can become ever more customer-centric. How can we retain the agility of our early days and continue to innovate, while partnering with the big companies we now work with on a regular basis? How can we recruit 80 people a month while staying attentive to our startup customers? I see a lot of startup people in the room. That brings back memories for me. I totally understand your problems, I’ve been through them.

OVH’s ambition: to become a “Global, Hyperscale, Cloud Provider”

Two years ago I told you, “OVH is no longer a startup”. It’s true. OVH is no longer a startup. Today, I’m telling you, “OVH is a multinational”. We have 2,100 employees and offices in 19 countries, on hand to support you. This year, our revenue is growing by 30%. But I want to retain what has made us successful, our ability to focus on you. I have decided to set a big challenge: by 2020 we will be a company of 4,200 people, with revenue reaching close to one billion. I’ve been talking to you for a few minutes and I can see a few questioning faces. At OVH, we place huge value on our teams’ well-being. As you might already know, we have hired a Chief Happiness Officer and built a gym at Roubaix Valley. It’s great because everyone has got into it, including me. Yes, 5 months ago I decided to set myself a challenge: lose 18 kg by the Summit. Done! Setting goals, working hard and achieving them. This is exactly the mindset that I like at OVH.

The last 12 months have been unbelievable. Just unbelievable! Everything is moving so fast for you. And for us, it’s the same. You are changing, and so are we. We are investing a lot: 1.5 billion euros over five years. We are hiring 20 new employees a week. We are building a new datacentre every 4 months. For you, our customers, OVH is moving on to the “Next Level”, which is in fact the theme of this Summit.

You see it every day: the digital world is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives. And that means that the way we use the cloud is going to change. All this digital communication, increasing day by day, goes through the cloud. Goes through networks. Goes through datacentres. And I want this communication to go through our datacentres, our networks, our cloud: the OVH cloud.

It is because of you, our customers, that OVH has become Europe’s leading cloud service provider. And that’s wonderful! Thank you for placing your trust in us! When I look at my competitors, Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the US or Alibaba in China, I get really excited. Competitors like that are very stimulating. It makes me want to challenge them! But at the same time, it is a pity that OVH is the only European company on the list, probably because the conditions haven’t been created for there to be others. And a lot of you are telling me: we need a European cloud. Yes, you do need this choice, you need to have an alternative to American and Chinese companies. This is a big responsibility for us. This is why OVH is moving on to the “Next Level”. In the 21st century, to be strong in Europe, you need to have a presence everywhere in the world. This is why our ambition is to be one of the world leaders in the cloud sector. Our ambition is to be “A Global, Hyperscale, Cloud Provider”.

From 27 to 50 datacentres around the world, plus Public Cloud services in private datacentres

In one year, we have built many new datacentres. We have already announced the first three, in Australia, Singapore and Poland. Three more datacentres are now operational, in Germany, England and Virginia, on the east coast of the United States. At the same time, over the last twelve months we have built a new additional datacentre on each of our four existing sites: Roubaix, Strasbourg, Gravelines and Beauharnois (close to Montreal). Last but not least, we have already kicked off construction on a datacentre on the west coast of the United States, in Oregon, and we will soon get started in Spain and Italy.

You are giving us a lot of very positive feedback on all these deployments. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us. By bringing you all our services through these 27 datacentres at 12 sites around the world, we can show you how we can support all your digital projects. By continuing to invest in our global network, connecting all our datacentres together, we can simplify and accelerate the deployment of your projects in the cloud. I want to go further. In the coming years, I want OVH to offer you services from 50 datacentres around the globe. I want to make an announcement. I want to offer our services in “private datacentres”. For our major corporate customers, OVH will offer our entire product range, all our services, as “pay as you go”. Scalable, based on standards, with APIs, but in totally private datacentres dedicated to a single customer. Yes, it is completely revolutionary. OVH is announcing Public Cloud in Private Datacentres.

A closer look at OVH US, a distinct and autonomous entity

The United States is the largest IT market in the world, with the fiercest competition. The speed of execution over there changes everything. The United States is where OVH can check if we really are innovative. In the US, it is not the price that matters most, but the value OVH delivers to customers. To measure up to that level of ambition and meet that challenge, we need a real American team. We need an experienced team, with the OVH mindset. And we have found it.

It is to that team, OVH US, that I have delegated the responsibility to execute our strategy in the US. They are fully autonomous, so that our American customers’ data remains completely separate from our other customers’ data. And that is unique! I am going to give the floor to Russell Reeder, CEO of OVH US. He is going to speak about OVH’s recent acquisition of vCloud Air from VMware and the new employees, customers and capabilities that came with this acquisition. He will also talk about the US market and the strategy that we deploy in the region.

[Speech by Russell Reeder, CEO of OVH US and Ray O’Farrell, EVP and CTO of VMware – replay to come]

You can see we have a lot more to learn from our American colleagues than just how to speak good English. I find it very stimulating to talk with Russ and his team about the implementation of our strategy in the United States for our American customers. It inspires me a great deal, because in IT, the Americans are usually in the lead. The question I ask myself is: how can we make that lead an advantage for our European customers?

OVH has become more than a website host

Here in Europe and in France, I still read in the press “OVH, website host”. And I find this really intriguing, because OVH has become so much more than that. Here’s something else. A few weeks ago, a major corporate customer said to me: “Octave, you have to explain your strategy to me”. And recently I read a pretty funny Tweet which roughly translates to: “OVH has a strategy? That’s news to me!” I gave this a lot of thought because of course we have a strategy! We have just been talking about it, it’s clear isn’t it? And yet, why is it not clear for all our customers? What makes it unclear for some of you? To help me answer this question, I invite our Chief Digital Marketing Officer, Xavier Perret, onto the stage.

Reorganisation of OVH services under 3 new products

Octave Klaba: Hello Xavier! Why do some of our customers give this kind of feedback even though OVH’s strategy is clear?

Xavier Perret: OVH doesn’t have a strategy problem. The fact is, OVH has developed so quickly that there is a gap between where we are and how we are seen. If we want to grow internationally while continuing to innovate and meet all our customers’ expectations, without changing the mindset that made us successful, we have to adapt. We have decided to simplify our solutions around just three products, three products that are clearer and easier to understand. We are going to launch them in the coming weeks and months in all OVH countries.
Firstly, and because OVH’s raison d’être is now the cloud, we are creating the new OVHcloud product. OVHcloud is for all companies experiencing the full force of the digital transformation and who should take advantage of all the “market opportunities” that come with it. Whether you are looking for new customers around the world for your e-commerce site, constructing platforms of sub-contractors or partners in the aeronautical industry, evolving your business processes or customer relationships in the banking and insurance sectors, or developing the internet of things in the world of “smart buildings”, OVHcloud is for you.

Octave: Today the market segment corresponding to the solutions we are grouping under OVHcloud already represents 50% of our revenue at OVH, with 50% yearly growth. Yes, 50% growth. It’s huge.

Xavier: OVHcloud, is for all companies, whatever your legacy, your story and your infrastructure, your initial setup. We are adapting the standards that you looked for in the Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud solutions. You have critical needs, strong demands for resilience, scalability and also, of course, security. This is what OVHcloud offers.

Octave: OVHcloud represents our three types of cloud, storage, PaaS and network. It’s standards-based and pay as you go, with APIs for all customers. Beyond the products, there is also a change to the level of service.

Xavier: OVHcloud supports you as you transform your processes and structure the technical aspects of your projects with the help of solution architects and pre-sales engineers. The sales teams are there for you to offer support throughout the process. Teams of TAMs – Technical Account Managers – are on hand 24 hours a day to give you advice and help in the event of an incident. Both for you and your technological partners.

Octave: So OVHcloud represents all cloud products plus Professional Services, to support your digital transformation. And yes, it’s available anywhere in the world.

Xavier: Exactly, this is a worldwide product offering a global range of services. If you want to work on a global level with a single point of contact, a single account, you will work with our US team. But if you want to be outside the Patriot Act, then you will work with our European team. We are the only people to offer this.

Octave: This is really powerful: a single point of contact for all services, everywhere, in all our datacentres all over the world. With or without the Patriot Act. But we haven’t forgotten about our existing customers.

Xavier: For years OVH has been helping customers who want nothing more and nothing less than a powerful cloud service that is adapted to their needs. Customers who want to pay in euros or in dollars and be able to plan their spending. You know, the So you Start, Kimsufi, VPS offers... Well, we are going to bring them together under one product: OVHspirit, offering you the core spirit of OVH.

Octave: OVHspirit can be summed up in three words: performance, performance and performance in the cloud. Today, this represents 25% of our revenue. And we still have to announce the third product, you know, the “made in Roubaix” product for hosting web sites and providing domain names, email accounts, Exchange accounts, internet access, fibre-optics and telephony. This is the role of the third product...

Xavier: Yes, OVHmarket covers the whole web and telecoms universe. OVHmarket is for all services related to connection, hosting, office administration and Software as a Service, whatever industry you are in. Whether you are an entrepreneur, self-employed, a company or an association, OVHmarket will make your digital life easier and save you time. Time you can use to focus on your own business.

Octave: Let’s do a recap of the three products: OVHcloud, a scalable and global cloud; OVHspirit, the cloud with performance adapted to your needs; and OVHmarket, providing complete digital services to small- and medium-sized companies.
OVH is also an ecosystem of partners, and we have something for them too. The idea for three products also came from noticing the difficulty we’ve had in offering simple partner programmes.

Xavier: Exactly! With this simplification around three products, we will finally be able to create partner offers that are focused on each ecosystem. For OVHcloud, that means partnerships with our distributors, integrators and software houses, as well as software publishers and Independent Software Vendors. For OVHspirit, it means our wholesale cloud partners and white-label retailers of our cloud solutions. And of course for OVHmarket it means our web agency partners, telecoms companies and the whole network of local businesses that provide key connectivity and office administration services to non-IT companies.

Octave: There you go! 3 products, 1 partnership programme per product. And we are going all the way: A single Control Panel for everyone.

Xavier: Yes, simplifying our products is all about delivering a simple customer relationship. The goal is for you to be able to configure your services, make modifications and interact with OVH in a simple way using one single Control Panel for each of the three ranges.

Octave: So this is the “Next Level”: simplification around products and clarity around the ecosystem, to bring you an environment adapted to your needs. Thank you Xavier!

I have talked to you about our strategy. I have talked to you about our ambition. This is what we are doing to stand even closer by your side. OVH is increasingly international, moving into the United States, performing well in Europe, and growing fast. But we are staying attentive to your needs and everyday concerns. Your trust in us makes me sure OVH is here to stay.