Octave Klaba - speaking at OVH Summit 2018
OVH chairman Octave Klaba speaking at OVH Summit in Paris.

Published: January 23rd, 2019

France-based cloud services provider OVH is planning to boost its research and development efforts in Montreal and move a lead executive to the city within a few months, says the firm’s new CEO Michel Paulin in an interview with IT World Canada.

OVH vice-president of engineering Sébastien Séjourné will be moving across the pond soon enough to head R&D in Canada and South America. The Montreal office, which OVH describes as one of its three important global hubs, is the headquarters for its Americas region excluding the U.S., where OVH U.S. is operated as a separate legal entity.

One of his priorities will be developing and launching new artificial intelligence (AI) services to OVH customers, Paulin says. Canada will be part of a worldwide initiative that will see OVH recruiting talent to work on its public cloud services and API access. It currently has about 20 job openings for its Montreal and Beauharnois, Que.-based locations.

“We hope that Canada will help to develop new features,” he says. “We can find all the skills and talent in Montreal. That’s why we decided to create this worldwide hub in Canada.”

Paulin is in Montreal this week to visit the OVH Canada operations for the first time since becoming CEO last fall. OVH operates six data centres in Montreal and an office in Toronto. Though it got its start by offering web hosting services in Europe, its North American operations are focused on offering private cloud, public cloud, and dedicated hosting.

Paulin says he wants to create an action plan to continue OVH’s growth in Canada. “I want to introduce myself to people,” he says. “It’s important to have a good dialogue with all the employees.”

‘The great cloud secret’

That includes addressing a brand awareness issue. OVH’s six data centres in Montreal and Beauharnois, Que. are actually on-par with or exceed that of other Canadian-soil operations of the hyperscale public cloud providers – like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – the firm’s own executives refer to it as “the great cloud secret.”

“We’re growing fast, but not as fast as we could due to the expansive portfolio we have,” Paulin says. “We’re a technical company and that’s why we believe our customers are so loyal.”

OVH sees innovation as its main opportunity too set itself apart from the competition. The firm makes its own servers and its own data centres, choosing to control the entire vertical stack of the supply chain, whereas other public cloud providers sometimes hire wholesale data centre providers to provide their infrastructure. OVH plans to launch a new range of servers this year.

It’s also focusing on continuing to push out all the services that it offers in France to its international locations, save for the web hosting business. First, OVH plans to introduce and expand its cloud services for customers that are building platforms, or scaling applications in the public cloud. Eventually, it will also launch its service targeted at the enterprise – a hybrid-cloud approach that includes help migrating existing infrastructure.

OVH to introduce new partner program

Paulin says that will be supported by a partner program that will launch in a few months time in Canada, after initially being tested out in France. “We’re looking to identify the right partnerships,” he says. “It’s a very comprehensive program that we will announce in the next few months.”

OVH is looking to work with a variety of different partners, from value-added resellers, to managed service providers, integrators, and even those that would white-label OVH’s service. Rogers Communications previously had such an arrangement with OVH for its public cloud service, but that arrangement no longer exists. OVH did not elaborate further on that business relationship. Rogers does not offer a public cloud service at this time.

Also coming soon will be a general release of Managed Kubernetes Service, a product that’s currently in private beta. OVH plans to offer the service out of its France data centres on a worldwide basis starting Feb. 26, and then locally from international locations, including Canada, in Q2.