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OVH Discusses U.S. Cloud Services Expansion Strategy

Brian Kuhn
Brian Kuhn

Brian Kuhn is a precise man.

He takes his time answering questions and describes himself as a builder. “I like to problem solve, build, establish, and process. I like the act of creation,” he tells ChannelE2E.

These are good traits to have in the person heading up the U.S. strategy for a global hyper-scale cloud provider.

Kuhn is the chief digital officer for OVH US. The title is the best they could come up with to encompass his disparate responsibilities, he tells ChannelE2E. Those responsibilities include product and business strategy function, product management, and marketing for OVH US, a wholly-owned subsidiary of OVH.

OVH's Background

OVH, launched in 1999 as a web-hosting company. Since then, the France-based company has grown to become a major cloud provider with 1.3 million customers.

The company made news last year when it acquired VMware’s vCloud Air business -- which never quite gained critical mass vs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. VMware ultimately punted on the vCloud Air strategy, and partnered more closely with Amazon to develop VMware Cloud on AWS.

Still, OVH gained some key capabilities in the vCloud Air deal. Along with the data center and customer operations, the deal included customers and VMware’s enterprise-ready support time. It also moved up the timeline for OVH’s planned expansion into the United States.

“The plan for the U.S .strategy was originally to come in as traditional OVH, to start with the digital means and then grow up and mature over time,” says Kuhn.

vCloud Air Provides Springboard Into U.S. Market

But with the vCloud Air deal, OVH’s plan was essentially sped up by two to three years, according to Kuhn. It was a deal less about technology -- OVH had already been using VMware tech to support its hosted private cloud line -- and more about the acquisition of employees who were adept at dealing with higher-end customers, as well as the customers themselves.

“The U.S. strategy is a very different strategy than what OVH Group had for itself in the same time duration. What has transpired over the last year is a melding and a merging,” Kuhn explains.

In October at OVH Summit in Paris, the company announced it would be separating into three distinct brands:

  • OVHmarket, the traditional web hosting service;
  • OVHspirit for introductory cloud offerings and introductory public cloud services; and
  • OVHcloud - the one most associated with Kuhn.

The creation of these three brands stems from the accelerated U.S .timetable, according to Kuhn. “Having an entire product brand that can tackle essentially what the U.S. was going to go after and do so in a global fashion,” he says. “OVH Cloud is a global brand, it’s not just the U.S. It will start in the U.S. because that’s where our foundation is, but this will be French, British, and all the top tier cloud countries will have an OVH offering.”

The Strategy

The overall U.S. strategy, though, predates the acquisition. OVH saw an opportunity in the United States market a number of years ago and began its expansion process by opening a data center in Montreal in 2011. That process was given a boost in 2016 when Towerbrook and KKR invested $250 million in the company and its growth plans.

“Being that the US market still had not really been tapped in a way that others would expect it to be tapped, the US plan really started there in terms of creating a US team and formulating that plan.”

OVHcloud will start out offering three different types of cloud services in the United States.

  1. Dedicated Cloud Servers. The bare metal. “This is the bread and butter of OVH and the elemental components of all of our services are based on dedicated servers,” says Kuhn.
  2. Public Cloud Services. Based on OpenStack technology, this will over customers computing power, storage, and eventually platform-as-a-service.
  3. Hosted Private Cloud. This offering was created around VMware’s technology stack, and based on creating hybridity and connecting to OVH’s other networking products.

The Hosted Private Cloud offerings were re-launched in November 2017, providing new options for disaster recovery, enterprise-grade private cloud, and enhanced hybridity. The solution is aimed at midsize and enterprise companies and leverages OVH’s growing data center footprint.

The company recently launched its first data center on the East Coast, available for a limited time and in limited quantity. OVH is now working to open a similar operation on the West Coast.

It’s been a lot of work for Kuhn and his team.  “This is the act of creation,” he says. “We’re building a company from scratch. We’re building everything inside for an organizational structure to work.”