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10/06/2014
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Report written by Lorine Schieber


Dedicated Servers: Delivering almost 130 Different Configurations


With its new dedicated servers released in early 2014, OVH.com focuses on customization: clients can choose their RAID and associated disks, processors, RAM etc. In order to ensure fast delivery times, OVH.com has enhanced its internal processes, from its relationships with suppliers to the assembly of servers. Six months later, two key figures in the production process, Jean-François Pillot and Maxime Delemarle, discuss the outcome.





By early 2014, OVH.com offered four ranges of servers to its clients; all servers were assembled in OVH's production lines and then installed in its data centers. Since then, the number of available configurations has increased. The servers of the OVH.com brand are now available in six highly customizable ranges: Enterprise, Hosting, Infrastructure, Storage, HPC, and Big Data. For OVH.com, a hosting provider that masters the production line from end to end, staying behind is not an option.



Rethinking its relationships with suppliers


In order to produce a server, OVH.com receives components from all over the world, so being in short supply is not an option when producing almost 130 different configurations of dedicated servers within the shortest time possible. OVH.com has reviewed its relationships with suppliers to become an OEM (original equipment manufacturer). “As components leave the factory, manufacturers allocate a stock to us (the allocated stock), which allows us to manage our supply chain and set specific arrival dates for the assets according to the production plan," explains Jean-François Pillot, Production and Purchasing Manager.







OVH.com thus improved its stock management and enhanced its reaction capacity: “If the demand exceeds our stock on hand for a given server model, we can order the parts we need and get them in 24 to 48 hours, says Jean-François. The supply chain has been adapted to the whole range of products.” Last advantage, but by no means the least for a company committed to innovation: this privileged relationship with suppliers allows OVH.com to test new technologies prior to their commercial release and then offer them to clients as soon as they are officially available.







What happens concretely?


Production is still carried out with a just-in-time approach in order to keep low inventory levels and optimize short-term production costs. “We study the demand and identify the ‘blockbusters’, which are the more commonly requested servers, explains Maxime Delemarle, Production Workshop Manager. “We then manufacture blockbusters for each of the six ranges of the OVH.com brand: they are made of a processor, a motherboard, RAM, and hard disks.” Once assembled, standard servers are tested and then sent to the data centers. There, they are customized according to the client’s specifications (RAID controllers, additional hard disk, etc.) following the late stage customization principle. Once components are installed, servers are tested again and then delivered to the client. “This approach is both cost- and time-effective. Since the hardware is installed on a server only upon the client’s request, there are no components stored," adds Maxime.

The OVH.com team took advantage of the new range of servers to deploy a groundbreaking rack system called “HORI” (for horizontal) conceived by OVH.com. This system allows OVH.com to optimize the transportation of servers to Strasbourg and Gravelines. Actually, the machines used to be assembled in Roubaix and then sent to distant data centers. “Now -explains Maxime-, racks are pre-assembled and can be deployed as a plug&play: cables, network and power supply, water cooling, etc., everything is set up and tested in Roubaix; once they are safely received, we just have to connect them to the data center. That’s it, up and running!," adds Maxime with enthusiasm.