Executive Interview: OVHcloud US GM Jeffrey Gregor on Competing with Hyperscalers

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DateMay 22, 2024

Jeffrey Gregor, General Manager of OVHcloud USHostingJournalist sat down with Jeffrey Gregor, General Manager of OVHcloud US, the US division of global cloud provider OVHcloud, one of the world’s largest cloud infrastructure suppliers. During our conversation, we delved into how OVHcloud competes with the well-known cloud hyperscalers, the future of the cloud industry, and OVHcloud’s role in that future. 

“OVHcloud has remained competitive with hyperscalers through a robust offering of open, transparent, and reversible cloud solutions with industry-leading performance and very competitive pricing,” said Mr. Gregor. “We are a vertically integrated global organization, something that’s been a part of our DNA since the beginning. This allows us to keep costs low because we own and operate all phases of the supply chain. We design and build our own servers, own and operate our own data centers, and we run our own fiber network.

“As a very customer-centric organization, we are dedicated to providing the best cloud experience possible. Instead of offering just a few types of cloud solutions or server types, we can design each server to meet a customer’s specific needs to ensure it has the right types of drives, the right amount of RAM, and the optimum ratio of RAM-to-compute power. In addition, we pride ourselves in delivering predictable and transparent pricing with no ingress or egress fees. OVHcloud customers can budget their cloud expenses with confidence, without surprise usage-based overage fees for high amounts of bandwidth. Our pricing is competitive and transparent, and our customers know exactly what they’re going to get.”

How do you envision the future of the US and global cloud industry, and where does OVHcloud US fit into that vision?

“I think the United States will continue to lead as the world’s largest cloud market for the foreseeable future. Not only will we continue to support U.S. residential customers, but we will continue to gain market share from customers outside of the U.S. Currently, about one third of our customers are international businesses because they want to offer their services here in the U.S. market.

“Customers are really wanting to control their own data, and this is a big reason why OVHcloud US has gained momentum in the U.S. market. OVHcloud has always been committed to respecting customers’ data and making sure they remain in control of it at all times. We don’t move data around arbitrarily or store backups without their knowledge. 

“The future is leaning toward public cloud, containers using Kubernetes, and other platform services like managed databases and AI machine learning. To further support our customers, OVHcloud is offering these tools so customers can feel confident and safe operating in an environment where they’re in complete control of their data. Eventually, we’re looking to take the best machine learning models, operationalize them, and offer them as a service.”

In retrospect, which key events do you believe most significantly fueled OVHcloud US’s expansion up to this point, and what specific growth plans are you still pursuing in the North American market?

“In the past five years, OVHcloud US has grown immensely. When we were founded as a U.S. company in 2017, we had a solid go-to-market strategy and were ready to go. However, we pivoted and decided to purchase vCloud Air, VMware’s former cloud offering based on the software-driven data center. That move allowed us to jump start our operations and go from just a handful of employees to more than 150 employees overnight. As part of that acquisition, we migrated customers from VMware data centers to OVHcloud US data centers, which helped us quickly establish ourselves as a formidable U.S. cloud provider and boosted our early success. Today, we’re now the second largest income revenue generator to the OVHcloud group in France.

“Another area we focused on was growing our bare metal offering, based on its success in Europe and general market demands. Even though we know the future will focus on public cloud, containers, Kubernetes, and AI, there is still a strong market for bare metal cloud and private cloud in general, including VMware and Nutanix solutions. We are continuing to build out our public cloud products, and we’re now offering various new products. This includes a new high speed object storage, and we’re also about to launch new high speed block storage for public cloud, in addition to managed database offerings, AI notebooks, and machine learning tools.

“On top of all this, In November 2023, OVHcloud announced an all new data platform in development that will allow customers to run data lakes, complete data analytics, as well as extract, transform, and load their data from their production databases into a data lake and or a data warehouse for analytics, building dashboards, business intelligence, and more to better and more efficiency run their businesses. This all goes back to making sure our customers have access to all the latest data tools and are completely in control of their data.”

As an originally French company, OVHcloud’s vision is to keep the entire chain of hosting infrastructure development and management in-house as much as possible. What does this mean for customers in the North American market? 

“Our vision as a global cloud provider indeed is to keep the entire chain of hosting infrastructure, development, and management in-house. While we are a wholly owned subsidiary of OVHcloud corporation in France, we operate in the U.S. as an entirely separate company.

“One of the driving reasons behind that decision is because of both the Cloud Act and the Patriot Act, which requires U.S.-based cloud providers to meet specific government compliance regulations, regardless of where they store data for their clients. By keeping our operations separate from OVHcloud in Europe, we fulfill all compliancy regulations for our U.S.-based customers. OVHcloud US data centers don’t store data for any companies that we are not working closely with to always ensure compliancy. However, because we are the same company, we still do share the same products and offerings as OVHcloud in France and the rest of the world. Most product development still happens in France, but our engineers in the US still provide technical and developmental support to OVHcloud France because it allows us to bring products to market faster.”

By extension, OVHcloud operates its own data centers and has developed its own water-cooling system. Can you elaborate on OVHcloud’s sustainability initiatives?

“It’s no secret that we have a lot of initiatives around sustainability, but I want to start by saying that sustainability is in our DNA. It’s not something that we’ve just recently started because it was the ‘hot topic’ being discussed in this industry. The reality is that individuals, companies, and even governments are now waking up to the fact that sustainability should be one of the key aspects of how cloud providers and other tech companies operate. For us, it’s something we’ve always done, starting with our founder. We’ve always been very economical, and that has led us to try and get as much value for our customers in everything we build and design. 

Our vertical integration, circular economy principles, and our proprietary water-cooling designs not only further differentiate us from our competitors, but also allow us to have a very low carbon footprint. 

“By design, we have been able to provide low energy-consuming solutions, as well as being able to recycle products, and give second and third life to our main components.“Our servers are designed to be fully removable, with dedicated components chosen specifically for easy reuse, recycling, and repair.“We’re using less power than our competitors to cool data centers, thus reducing our carbon footprint. “Our proprietary water-cooling technology, specifically, allows us to have industry-leading power efficiency and to use water most efficiently because it’s a closed-loop, water-cooling system. “Very little water is used to cool servers, and several months out of the year, the water-cooling system operates at ambient temperature resulting in very low energy usage. Our data centers are mainly rehabilitated buildings and meant to have an increased lifespan. They carry our own infrastructure, designed within our manufacturing facilities, allowing us to go even further with monitoring and reparability of our solutions.

“The strength of OVHcloud lies in the plurality of its expertise. OVHcloud controls its production chain, and having control over the entire production chain naturally allows us to control all aspects, while making considerable economies of scale, and offers remarkable agility. For example, when a customer wants a more powerful server with more memory and computing capacity, we can upgrade it in real-time. Our responsiveness and agility are a result of being vertically integrated and are some of the strong characteristics of OVHcloud and our services.”

Celebrating five years of OVHcloud’s expansion into the US now, how would you describe the company’s evolution and its contributions to the US cloud landscape?

“Let me first say, it’s been an incredible five years. We have truly contributed to the U.S. landscape by offering bare metal cloud and various dedicated cloud solutions at a much more competitive price than many of our competitors. We have been able to come in and take market share because we’re growing faster than anyone else in the bare metal cloud market. In addition, we are expanding our offerings across public cloud, Kubernetes, AI, and more to ensure our customers have the key tools they need to get straight to work, and to make their businesses a success.  

What challenges has OVHcloud overcome when it comes to serving the North American market?

“The North American market is the largest and most competitive market in the world, so when we launched, we were already coming into a very crowded market. Because of this, our biggest challenge remains that we’re still relatively unknown in the U.S. market compared to the hyperscalers and even some of our peer competitors. Our competitors had a little bit of a head start, but we’ve certainly made some significant gains since our launch. 

“One way we’ve differentiated ourselves from other cloud providers is that we do not offer a web hosting product in the U.S. We evaluated that market when we launched and decided it’s way too crowded and saturated. We instead focus on where we could be competitive starting out with bare metal cloud and private cloud with the VMware stack. We offer Nutanix BYOL to our private cloud and, now, we’re moving into public cloud and containers, which is another competitive market. We’ve enjoyed tremendous growth over the past five years and with new services coming online, we are projecting steady growth and additional market share over the next few years and beyond.”

As OVHcloud US focuses on flexibility, availability, and affordability, how do you ensure that these values are consistently upheld in all your product and service offerings across the US and beyond?

“The value we bring to our customers is really tied to the sustainable ecosystem we developed more than 20 years ago. This allows us to offer our customers more performance, flexibility, scalability, and transparency than any other cloud provider. Instead of purchasing off-the-shelf hardware at high costs, we build our own bare metal servers in-house from the ground up, which gives us the ability to upgrade components to fit the needs of our customers. Production expertise combined with sophisticated logistics also enables us to guarantee fast delivery and offer customers more value for their money.

“An additional value we offer customers is that we don’t lock them into a proprietary system that only runs on our platform. We give all our customers the flexibility to choose the solution that works best for them. Something that runs here at OVHcloud should be able to run anywhere. If you’re operating something on-premises or in a colocation, it’s very easy for you to move to OVHcloud because there isn’t a steep learning curve or need to refactor code. You can start your cloud journey with a ‘lift and shift’ of your current solution, and then modernize it down the road. You can start with bare metal cloud and then move it over to public cloud and Kubernetes. We know the need to offer reliable products with built-in flexibility which is why we design our solutions to meet those standards.” 

What are the most important, most notable, and most valued solutions offered to customers by OVHcloud US?

“One of our strengths has always been our ability to offer the most complete hybrid cloud solution of any provider. Whether it’s bare metal cloud, hosted private cloud, dedicated resources, or public cloud and containerization, we let the customer decide what’s most valuable for them. They can mix and match their solutions to come up with a fully hybrid cloud solution within OVHcloud or as part of a multi-cloud solution between OVHcloud and other cloud providers. At the end of the day, we take a very customer-centric approach, and we are dedicated to helping our customers establish the cloud solution that works best for their organization.”

From Hosted Private Cloud to VMware on OVHcloud to Nutanix on OVHcloud BYOL service, OVHcloud offers a wide range of services. How large can/may OVHcloud’s portfolio grow, and how can consistent delivery quality be ensured everywhere in this regard?

“Offering a wide array of services and solutions is something we are very proud of at OVHcloud. While it may seem like we have a lot of different solutions, we have been very careful not to spread ourselves too thin. All our products are purposefully designed and selected, and we’ve deliberately crafted our solutions differently than hyperscalers, which have thousands of offerings. We’re really trying to offer just the key building blocks that we, and the market, have determined companies and customers want and need most. Bare metal cloud is at the base, and on top of that, we offer industry-standard hyperconverged solutions with VMware and Nutanix.

“For public cloud, we’re running Open Stack which is the industry standard, and we’re also offering additional platform services to that offering like Kubernetes, high-speed object storage, S3 compatible storage, and high-speed block storage. We also have targeted offerings for data, data analytics, notebooks, machine learning tools, managed databases, and more. We’re not trying to be everything to everyone, and we understand the quality we need to bring to the market, especially in the U.S. We’re bringing high quality to every designed offering that we have.”

What role does PaaS and managed Kubernetes play in the product line of OVHcloud US?

“Platform-as-a-Service is our main focus right now because we know this is where the market is going. Bare metal and hosted private cloud will still have a role to play and will still be a huge part of our portfolio going forward, but we are really shifting our focus to public cloud. This includes PaaS offerings and managed Kubernetes. Often, we have customers who come in and buy bare metal cloud so they can build their own containerized offerings on top of it. This year and moving forward our goal is to have all of those offerings on the market so we can deliver the right building blocks our customers need to operate in a containerized environment. With this focus, we will continue to support private cloud, even though this is different customer segments we’re going after.”

As cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated and the cost of cyber-attacks rises, how does OVHcloud US’s cybersecurity portfolio keep up?

“OVHcloud US fully understands the importance of cloud security, and we deliver comprehensive cloud protection. Every OVHcloud product is supported by the Anti-DDoS infrastructure to defend against malicious activity. We also have a variety of certifications including various ISO certifications, SSAE 18 Type 2 SOC 1,2 & 3, PCI-DSS for financial data hosting, HIPAA and HITECH for health care applications and more, so our customers can securely build solutions that meet these standards for themselves and their end customers.

“Our priority is making sure our infrastructure, the infrastructure that we offer to our customers, and all the solutions we offer are protected because cyberattacks remain a key issue. We also offer solutions that allow customers to protect themselves, because we know there is a need to have backups as part of your strategy. Our partnership with VMware gives our customers options to easily create backups and or set up disaster recovery sites to ensure their business continuity won’t be impacted if they have a cybersecurity attack, ransomware, or other type of disaster. We internally make everything as hardened and secure as possible, and we encourage our customers to do so as well.”

The OVHcloud US Startup Program aims to accelerate startups’ journey to the cloud. What makes this program unique and what success stories have emerged from it?

“What makes our program unique and attractive to startups is because we are a pure-cloud provider, not a managed service provider that could potentially develop cloud solutions that compete with our startups. Startups, and our established customers, use our services because they know we’re not in competition with them. We respect their data. We’re not trying to analyze what they’re doing with their metadata or looking at their traffic or anything else. That’s just not something that we do. I think startups feel safe in our environment compared to hyperscalers or other cloud providers. Our startup program provides mentorship to our startups as requested, we help both startups and new customers with professional services, and we provide access to our sales engineers or other technical staff to help get them set up and operating in the cloud, or to help them review their business plans. Our program is not just issuing credits, it’s about building a partnership with our startups because their success is our success.”

With OVHcloud’s continued focus on innovation, what future plans or product launches can we anticipate for OVHcloud and its OVHcloud US branch in particular?

“We recently launched managed databases supported by Aiven“Local Zones for edge computing in Dallas and six other locations across the United States by the close of 2024 from the gridscale“Data Lake/Data Warehouse Solution w/ Analytics from the ForePaaS acquisition“AI and Machine Learning Tools

Are there any specific technologies or trends you’re particularly excited about for the future, and why?

“We are very excited about the future because we are always looking to provide innovative and more effective cloud technologies for our customers. For instance, we’ve spent the last 20 years innovating more effective water-cooling solutions, and we are continuing to do so. We’re currently experimenting with hybrid immersion liquid cooling where hardware components are completely submerged in dielectric hydrocarbon fluid. This technology greatly expands where data centers can be built while maintaining low PUE/WUE and lowering our carbon impacts. 

There are several technological innovations around public cloud including a rapid expansion in local zones which puts compute, storage, and other cloud functions close to population centers and other strategic locations to reduce latency for end users. The same is true for the advancements in AI, all the different learning models and how you can integrate AI solutions to really solve business problems. I think those are some of the key technologies that will help shape our future and the future of the cloud industry.”

Lastly, as OVHcloud US looks forward to the future, what major goals and milestones can customers and stakeholders expect in the coming years?

“As mentioned, we are really leaning into the future of cloud across public cloud, containers, AI, and other tools that target the key needs of our customers. This includes announcing major partnerships that will continue to improve our customer service, transform our cloud offerings, and continue to expand the capabilities our customers will have across their cloud environments. We will continue to work towards carving out our key market share here in the U.S., with the goal of becoming as well known here as we are across Europe. We have a plethora of exciting announcements coming up in 2024 across partnerships, cloud solutions, and more that will continue to differentiate us from our competitors and will continue our growing momentum here in the U.S. We are thrilled to see what 2024 and beyond has in store for us and our customers.”

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