As it embarks on an ambitious expansion plan that involves the addition of data center and fiber network assets on multiple continents, French hosting and cloud services company OVH has turned to Cisco for an optical transport upgrade that can handle its multiple needs and growth plans.
OVH, based in France and operating 17 data centers in two countries, knows Cisco well, having sourced its switch and router equipment from the giant IP equipment vendor. Now, having assessed a number of supplier options, OVH is rebuilding and expanding its optical network with Cisco's DWDM equipment, namely the NCS 2000 platform, which now boasts line cards that support 200G as well as 100G. (See Cisco Wins DWDM Deal At OVH.)
Guillaume Delabre, Network Team Leader at OVH, tells Light Reading that OVH has been rebuilding its European backbone since last year and is also now constructing a new one in North America using the Cisco gear. He also confirmed that, as a result, OVH is no longer using Infinera's DTN-X platform in its network. (See OVH Deploys Infinera.)
So what is it about Cisco's system that OVH likes? "It suits our goals. The product is smaller [than previous deployed systems] and it fits better. We have a simple network, running 100G wavelengths point-to-point between data centers. Cisco's product is more efficient for that, its chassis is smaller and there is no integrated OTN switch," notes Delabre. "We discussed our needs with a number of companies but Cisco was the logical choice. It's a long-time partner and we have Cisco routers and switches in our data centers so it made sense to use Cisco to connect them. Now we have Cisco engineers on site for four days a week as part of the relationship."
The OVH executive explains that the company essentially runs two types of transport network, one that is essentially a data center interconnect (DCI) set-up, between its facilities, and one that connects the data centers to the public Internet: The Cisco platform is good for both of those use cases, says Delabre.
One reason is that the same system can run long-distance 100G and 200G for metro/DCI applications: OVH is one of the first companies to deploy 16 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) 200G per wavelength, notes Bill Gartner, vice president of the Optical Systems & Transceiver Group at Cisco. "OVH is an early adopter -- it tends to be one of the first to deploy new technologies," he adds.
But is it also cost effective? Did OVH also perhaps get a good financial deal from Cisco? Cost and expenditure is one topic OVH isn't ready to talk about just yet in detail.
The company has been spending. In late 2014, as part of its plans to become a leading international "Digital-as-a-Service" player, OVH announced it had raised $327 million from the sale of bonds and from credit facilities to put towards a $490 million investment program and then, in February 2015, it appointed Laurent Allard as its new CEO and began its expansion in North America, building upon the data center it had already opened in Beauharnois, Canada, in 2012. Allard almost immediately announced his ambitions to quadruple the company's revenues to more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion) by 2020.
To achieve those goals, the company is developing its own fiber network between major cities in the US and Canada, including Toronto, Newark, Ashburn and Chicago, in addition to opening new data centers. "We like to have our own fibers so we can manage the network," says Delabre.
OVH has had its own fiber links in Europe since 2008 and is now planning to build new data centers in Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the Netherlands. These will be in addition to the 14 data centers in three 'zones' (Roubaix, Paris and Strasbourg) OVH already has in France. The company also plans to expand into Asia/Pacific. "The goal is to offer all OVH services in these new data centers and to be a local player in each country," adds Delabre: OVH offers a range of hosting, cloud (public and private), web, network and security services to a broad range of companies.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading