OVH data center fire likely caused by faulty UPS power supply

Today, OVH founder and chairman Octave Klaba has provided a plausible explanation for the fire that had burned down OVH data centers in Strasbourg, France.

OVH is the largest hosting provider in Europe and the third-largest in the world. The cloud computing company provides VPS, dedicated servers, and other web services.

The online properties impacted by the fire included free chess server, videogame maker Rustcryptocurrency exchange Deribit‘s blog and docs sitestelecom company AFR-IX, encryption utility VeraCryptnews outlet eeNews Europethe art building complex Centre Pompidouand many others.

OVH customers were being advised at the time to enact their disaster recovery plans after the fire had rendered multiple data centers unserviceable, impacting websites around the world. 

UPS power backup likely behind the fire, says founder

In a video released today, OVH founder and chairman Octave Klaba started off with an apology and provided an update on the data center disaster investigation.

While the company may not yet have complete answers as to what exactly caused the fire bringing down its data centers, the founder touched upon an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) unit that had been serviced that morning.

In the video, Klaba explains that when the firefighters arrived on-site and took photos of the site with thermal cameras, the images showed 2 UPS burning, namely UPS7 and UPS8.

The sighting is relevant as UPS7 had been serviced by a maintenance person in the morning.

Klaba said that the UPS supplier came in the same morning and changed many pieces within UPS7, and restarted the unit.

At the time, everything seemed fine and the power backup unit was working fine up until the point the fire started.

“Thanks to the 300 cameras that we have in Strasbourg, and all the videos that we have started to extract, we hope to have all the answers [on how the fire started],” the founder said, hoping to provide a clearer picture of the events in the next few days.

SBG2 data center was older generation

The company is working on cleaning up the premises and rebuilding the data center with their suppliers by adding additional resources.

OVH has procured 2,000 servers as of yesterday, with additional 1,000 units set to arrive in the next few days, according to Klaba.

The founder explained that SBG2, the data center where the fire had started, was an older generation center built in 2011 and that the company is working towards replacing older infrastructure with newer technology.  

“When you see SBG3, that is totally a different generation of data center, it was not impacted at all as it is totally different construction and [is built with newer technology that we are deploying elsewhere],” said Klaba.

The company aims to increase the capacity of its production factory so they can deploy around 2,500 servers on a weekly basis, and over 10,000 servers next month in the newly built data center.

More updates with regards to the incident can be found on OVH status pages [1, 2].

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