OVH, possible cause of fire in data centers discovered

OVH, possible cause of fire in data centers discovered


Octave Klaba, founder and president of OVH, provided a possible explanation on the causes of the gigantic fire that burned the company's data centers in Strasbourg, which we talked about in more detail in our previous news.

A apparently, the culprit may have been an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that had been serviced that very morning. In fact, according to the images recorded by the thermal cameras of the firefighters who had just arrived on site, it was possible to notice that two UPS units were on fire, identified by the abbreviations UPS7 and UPS8. UPS7 is the device that was modified with different components and then restarted. Although everything seemed to be in order when the work was finished, at a certain point the fire broke out.

Furthermore, SBG2, the data center from which everything started, was still an older generation, having been built in 2011, and the company was already thinking about replacing the machines with more modern servers and currently 2,000 have already been replaced, while a further 1,000 will arrive in the next few days.

We remind you that OVH is one of the largest hosting providers in the world and it is used by many portals, including Italian ones, which have had to face a rather important problem in recent days to bring their site back online. Among these we can mention, specialized in chess games, the developer of the Rust video game, the blog of the cryptocurrency exchange Deribit, the telephone company AFR-IX, the Veracrypt utility and the news portal eeNews Europe. OVH aims to increase the production capacity of its factories to build around 2,500 servers per week, and over 10,000 servers next month to build its new data center.

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OVH fire: Octave Klaba says UPS systems were ablaze

Firefighters found UPS systems burning when they reached the disastrous fire at OVHcloud's SBG2 data center in Strasbourg on Wednesday, the French cloud provider has revealed.

The cause of the fire, which destroyed SBG2 and part of the neighboring SBG1, has not been determined, but OVHcloud's founder Octave Klaba described the fire in a video saying that when firefighters arrived they took photos with thermal imaging cameras, revealing fires in UPS7 and UPS8. He then adds that UPS7 had received maintenance the day before the fire broke out.

All four data centers at the Strasbourg site are out of action until next week, according to OVHcloud's updates. Service remains down at the site.

Updates: OVHcloud's recovery plan and further damage information

How the OVHcloud fire hurt Rust game players, French cultural institutions, and more

'The supplier came and changed a lot of pieces inside UPS7, and they restarted it in the afternoon. It seemed that it was working, but in the morning we had the fire,' said Klaba in the video.

Klaba does not say the UPS is the definite cause. 'We don’t have all the answers today,' he said. The OVHcloud staff responded to alarms at 11.42 pm on Tuesday, but the affected part of the data center had already filled with smoke: 'Two minutes after, they took the decision to leave, because it was too dangerous.'

The firefighter's thermal cameras found UPS7 and UPS8 on fire, but further data will be extracted from on-site cameras: 'We have 300 cameras in Strasbourg,' said Klaba. 'We expect to have all the answers about how it started. We will give you all the information.'

Klaba's video promises that replacement servers will be brought online quickly: the company has stepped up production at its Roubaix factory where racks are constructed according to OVHcloud's own design, so it can deliver 2,500 servers per week, and should have 10,000 new servers within a month.

The SBG2 used an older design than most other OVHcloud facilities, Klaba explained, based around 'hosting towers' that contained servers in metal cubes designed for efficient cooling. 'SBG2 is an older generation of our data centers that was built in 2011,' he explained. 'based on our researches of the impact on the environment.'

OVHcloud, originally called OVH, was founded in 1999, and adopted water-cooled servers early in its lifetime, before an expansion initially based on data centers built from shipping containers. In 2011, SBG2 was one of the first of a new generation, which installed servers within cubical metal tower structures, to benefit from convection cooling.

Following that, OVH moved to a simpler horizontal rack design, constructing some new data center buildings such as SBG3 and SBG4. 'SBG3 is a totally different generation of the data centers. It was not affected at all because it is a totally different construction.'

Before 2011, OVH's data centers, including previous facilities at Strasbourg, were built from stacks of shipping containers. In 2017, the company suffered a prolonged outage in which the Strasbourg campus lost power for a day, in an incident that also took out connectivity to the company's Roubaix facilities. After this, OVH dismantled its container-based facilities, replacing them with permanent buildings, and then moving to a practice of making facilities within existing factory buildings.