World-Class Data Hub

French cloud-computing giant OVH has opened a new data center in the city of Limburg in order to meet increasing demand for greater digital infrastructure in Germany. The complex will be one of three new OVH data centers in Germany.

August, 2017

The third-biggest internet hosting company in the world has opened its first data center in Germany. The new facility is of major strategic importance to the French cloud-computing giant OVH and will enable their German clients to develop their businesses, while providing access to internet users across the country and in Austria and Switzerland.

The move forms part of a global expansion drive over the next five years that will include the construction of 12 data centers in Europe, North America and Asia. Founded in 1999 in Roubaix, France, by Polish entrepreneur Octave Klaba with the help of three family members, OVH has grown rapidly to become the leading provider of dedicated cloud infrastructure in Europe, serving a million customers worldwide, with 20 data centers and 260,000 physical servers in operation, hosting 18m web applications across 17 countries.

Led by Octave Klaba, internet service provider OVH has rapidly become the leading provider of dedicated cloud infrastructure in Europe.

© picture alliance/AP Photo

Pressure grows on digital infrastructure

The demand for greater digital infrastructure in Germany is rapidly growing, and it is a trend that can only increase as it moves towards the next phase of industrial development, or Industry 4.0. Cloud computing, smart data and the Internet of Things are transforming manufacturing and production.

Fast-changing industrial processes are increasingly characterized by ever-smarter machinery and factories, linked through the internet and managed by complex operating systems. Béla Waldhauser, data center expert at the Cologne-based Association of the Internet Industry, ECO, is confident that in 2017 “demand for digital infrastructures will exceed the current supply.”

Peter Höhn, director of OVH’s German subsidiary, points out that demand from their customers for a data center located in Germany has been on the rise. “There are many reasons for this,” he says: “Germany’s economic situation is good. Furthermore, the country has strict rules on confidentiality and a highly reliable electricity grid. Thus, the opening of this first data center is a major step in the expansion strategy of OVH, the only global cloud provider that is not American, and therefore not subject to the Patriot Act.”

The U.S. Patriot Act is an anti-terrorism law which allows the U.S. government to access personal information from customers of internet service providers in the United States; there have been calls for a European equivalent.

OVH’s cloud-computing clients in Germany include large international companies such as the ceramics manufacturer Villeroy & Boch and multiple SMEs. OVH is also betting on an increasingly vibrant start-up ecosystem across Germany and already supports several German start-ups through its Digital Launch Pad, a support program for new innovative companies. Founder and group chairman Octave Klaba has expressly stated his support for innovation: “I love start-ups, I love the speed, having an idea in the morning and having it up and running by the end of the day,” he says.

Location of data center is strategic

Julien di Fiore, OVH’s international development manager, points out that determining the location of a data center is a highly strategic decision: “This choice needs a careful process to assess all the critical factors. Among them are competitive and growing markets, political stability, security, international laws and compliance, and many other key benefits such as cost, engineering capabilities, availability and quality of power, fiber connectivity, tax incentives and climate.”

Limburg an der Lahn met the key criteria. In terms of location, the city is located between Rhine-Main and Rhine-Ruhr, two of the most densely populated areas of Germany, and is close to both Frankfurt and Cologne. The region’s advanced infrastructure – which critically includes proximity to the largest internet hub (PoP: Point of Presence) in the world, the Frankfurt-based Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX), two 630 kVA transformers, a nearby 120mw sub-­station and excellent transport connections – also made the area an ideal site.

OVH Facts & Figures

320 m

reported turnover 2016

1 bn

company valuation reported October 2016

1.5 bn

anticipated investment in expansion over next 5 yrs

1 m

customers worldwide

Source: OVH

OVH received “great support” from the state of Hessen and regional partners, including Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), di Fiore adds. “It was excellent, we felt welcomed by the local community and the region. GTAI, the state and the regional partners found the right building with the right specifications in the right location.”

Instead of moving into existing data centers, OVH chose to rehabilitate old industrial buildings – a strategy it has followed at different locations around the world and which provides complete control over the hosting supply chain, from server assembly to the design of its facilities.

The new facility will accommodate 50 staff members and will also increase the company’s activity in Germany, leading to an increase in the number of sales and technical employees. The data center will eventually be able to house up to 45,000 servers in an area measuring 4,000 square meters. Operations for the whole region will continue to be run from the company’s site in Saarbrücken, which opened in 2006.

The Limburg site, which is OVH’s 21st data center, follows the opening of three new centers in Australia, Singapore and Poland last year. OVH has plans to build two additional data centers this year in Germany and further centers in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

The group will finance its global expansion through a €1.5bn investment over the next five years. In October, the group raised €250m by selling a minority stake to U.S. private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TowerBrook. If OVH continues to scale and to innovate at the superfast speeds it has been setting in recent years, Germany and the rest of Europe can only stand to gain.

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