#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 - October 17, 2017, in Paris.

This year, OVH is celebrating its 18th birthday. Adulthood. We’ve made it, we’re done growing up. We have already built a lot of things and now everything is moving faster. For me, this is just the beginning. We are advancing 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 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 computers, 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 predict the changes in your business models and what you 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 a code executed on thousands of servers, my job is to organize 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, 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 becoming a partner to the big groups 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 sales reaching close to one billion. I’ve been talking to you for a few minutes and I can see a few interrogative faces. At OVH, we place a huge value our teams’ well being. As you might already know, we have hired a Chief Happiness Office 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 reaching 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 data centre 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 notice it every day: the digital world is becoming an increasingly bigger part of our lives. And that means that the way we use the Cloud is going to change. All this digital communication, increasing every day, goes through the Cloud. Goes through networks. Goes through data centres. And I want this communication to go through our data centres, 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, like Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the US or Alibaba in China, I get really excited. Competitors like that are very stimulating. I makes me want to challenge them! But at the same time, it is a pity that OVH is the only European 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 the Americans and the Chinese. 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 be present everywhere in the world. This is why our ambition is to be one of the world leaders in the Cloud. Our ambition is to be ‘A Global, Hyperscale, Cloud Provider’.

From 27 to 50 data centres around the world, and Public Cloud in private data centres

In one year, we have built many new data centres. We have already announced the first three, built in Australia, Singapore and Poland. Three more data centres 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 data centre on each of our four historical sites: Roubaix, Stasbourg, Gravelines and Beauharnois (close to Montreal). Last but not least, we have already kicked off construction on a data centre 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 data centres 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 data centres 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 data centres around the globe. I want to make an announcement. I want to offer our services in ‘private data centres’. For our major corporate customers, OVH will offer our entire catalogue, all our services, as ‘pay as you go’, with scale, based on standards, and with API, but in totally private data centres dedicated to a single customer. Yes, it is completely revolutionary. OVH is announcing Public Cloud in private data centres.

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

The United States is the largest IT market in the world, with the biggest competition. Execution speed 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 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 OVH can create perfect data isolation between our American customers and all our other customers. And that is unique! I am going to give the floor to Russel Reeder, the 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 from Russell Reeder, CEO of OVH US and Ray O'Farrell, EVT and CTO of WMware - replay coming soon]

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”. 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, on stage.

Reorganization 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 that 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 offers around just three products, three clearer, more readable products that we are going to launch in the coming weeks and months in all OVH countries.

Firstly, and because OVH’s raison d’etre is now the Cloud, we are creating the new OVHcloud product. OVHcloud is for all the companies who are experiencing the full force of the digital transition and who have to take advantage of all the ‘market opportunities’ that comes 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 aeronautic industry, evolving your business process or customer relationship in the banking and insurance sector, or developing the internet of things in smart building, OVHcloud is for you.
Octave: Today the market segment corresponding to the offers we are grouping under OVHcloud already represents 50% of our sales 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 configuration. We are adapting our standards, that you looked for in the Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud. You have key needs, strong demands for resilience, scalability and also, of course, security. This is what OVHcloud offers.

Octave: OVHcloud represents the three types of Cloud, storage, PaaS, network, as pay as you go, as standard, with API for all these customers. Beyond the products, there is also a change on the level of service.

Xavier: OVHcloud supports you as you transform your processes and structure your projects with architect solutions and pre-sales engineers. The sales teams are there for you to offer support throughout the process. The TAM (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 the Cloud products plus Professional Services, to support your digital transformation. And this, anywhere in the world.

Xavier: Exactly, this is a global range of services. If you want to work on a global level with a single intermediary, 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 contact point for all the services, everywhere, in all our data centres all over the world. With or without the Patriot Act. But we haven’t forgotten about our historical customers either.

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 brand: OVHspirit, offering you the core spirit of OVH.

Octave: OVHspirit can be summed up in three words: performance, performance and performance within the Cloud. Today, this represents 25% of our sales. And we still have to announce the 3rd product, you know, the one for hosting web sites and providing domain names, email accounts, Exchange accounts, Internet access, fibre-optics, telephony. This is the role of the 3rd brand...

Xavier: Yes, OVHmarket covers the whole Web and Telecom universe. OVHmarket is for all the connection, hosting, office and software as a service services, whatever industry you are in. Whether you are self-employed, a company or an association, OVHmarket will make your digital life easier, saving you time. Time you can use to focus on your own business.

Octave: Let’s do a recap of the 3 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 3 brands also came from noticing the difficulty we had in offering simple partner programs.

Xavier: Exactly! With this clarification around the 3 brands, we will finally be able to leave behind partnership offers adapted to each ecosystem. For OVHcloud, partnerships with our distributors, integrators and SSII, as well as software editors and ISV. For OVHspirit, our wholesale Cloud partners, and white label retailers of our cloud offers. And of course for OVHmarket our web agency partners, telecom companies and the whole network of local businesses that provide key connectivity and office services to non-IT companies.

Octave: There you go! 3 brands, 1 partnership program per brand. And we are going all the way: A single control panel for everyone.

Xavier: Yes, simplifying our brands 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 a single control panel for each range of services.

Octave: So this is the ‘Next Level’: simplification around brands 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 sides. OVH is increasingly global, 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.