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Report written by Hugo Bonnaffé Expands its Eastern France Facilities Expands its Strasbourg Facilities

Less than a year ago, inaugurated SBG1, a data center built in containers, in Strasbourg (FR). While today, SBG1 is close to its maximum capacity where SP, EG and MG models are concerned, numerous customers still want their machines in the Alsatian capital. The reasons for this are proximity to Eastern Europe, and having backups far from Roubaix and Paris, where has 8 other data centers. As to satisfy the demands of its customers, two new data centers are being built while a third one is currently being planned out. Interview with's data center operations manager Lionel Deny.

How has the SBG1 data center come to be ?

Originally intended to be only a test, SBG1 was, in the end, a highly successful project that attracted clients mostly interested in top of the range products. To adapt to the trend, we had to change space allotment, firstly by assigning a whole container for HG (standing for Haut de Gamme, meaning “top of the range”) servers and two others for Dedicated Cloud. Since these servers are all equipped with two power supplies, we had to double up all of the data center's electrical equipment, delving deeply into the electrical network to ensure maximum security.
The five other containers, which mostly hold SP, EG and MG models, have been declared full in early December. This means that SBG1's final capacity is about 12,000 servers. In addition to these, three containers for both high and low voltage as well as one for routing leads us to a grand total of twelve containers. Finally, we started offering the Virtual Rack feature for the Strasbourg servers, an option that had not been available in this data center before.

How is the Strasbourg 2 project faring ?

The building permit was obtained without a fuss last summer and the work started on November 15, as we had planned. Strasbourg 2 -codename SBG2- will be built after the Roubaix 4 model, with its water cooling and air cooling technologies. The only real difference is that SBG2 will have six floors (instead of seven), a modification imposed by local zoning regulations. It will have a capacity of over 30,000 servers.
At the moment, its foundations are complete, and all workers from all required fields of expertise are ready to fulfill the contract of finishing the building by April 2013. By optimizing the purchase of preassembled building materials, we should be able to lower the production cost without having to compromise quality. In this, all of our previous experiences in data center construction serve us well.

Data center's underpinning

What is Strasbourg 3 ? must always stay ahead of the game. To anticipate future demands, the building permit requested for SBG2 also included the project of a second tower, identical to the first one, and standing next to it. This would be SBG3. SBG2 and SBG3 are actually two phases of a same project that will each be launched within a time determined by customer demand. As of today, we're thinking of starting the construction of SBG3 (30,000 servers maximum capacity) by mid-2014. Until then, the electrical supply -a double 20 megawatt line, meaning more than three times the current 6 megawatt capacity- will be built by ÉS (Énergies Strasbourg).

Until SBG2 is up and running, how will continue delivering servers in Strasbourg ?

By using new containers to build a new data center in a matter of weeks. We're currently equipping five new containers (four for servers, one for electrical equipment) in Roubaix, which are then bound for Strasbourg. We will position them in “H” on the 4,000 m² plot that we just negotiated with the Port du Rhin administrators. This land plot, which until now, had been the property of the Arcelor-Mittal steel group sits next to those on which SBG1, SBG2, and eventually SBG3, are located. SBG4, the second container data center, will be expandable and will benefit from SBG1's electrical and routing infrastructures, as it was initially built to support the additional load.
In order to save time and deliver this 5,000 server reserve by January 31, we have decided not to stack up the containers. Complex math concerning wind conditions are thus avoided, as is mandatory foundation work. The containers will be placed on top of concrete blocks to ensure stability and protection against flooding.

How many new employees will you hire to adapt to the Strasbourg expansion ?

The current team has about ten people. It will easily oversee SBG4's start up. When SBG2 opens, we'll need people to rack up servers as they come in from Roubaix, where all European servers are built. We'll then need seven more people in 2013 for SBG2's daily maintenance.

Extensive work has started on Strasbourg's network. What is it about ?

The Strasbourg location is conveniently placed on the optic fiber path that connects Paris to Frankfurt. It's actually one of the reasons why the Alsatian capital had been chosen as a data center location by OVH back in 2010. Considering the expected growth of dedicated server rental in Strasbourg, it was decided that's international network connectivity will be upgraded with a second optic fiber between Paris and Frankfurt. This one will, however, follow a completely different path from the first one, and will go through Gravelines in order to supply OVH's tenth French data center. We have thus buried many kilometers of our own optic fiber between the Port du Rhin area and downtown Strasbourg, where lies the interconnection chamber. This chamber connects to the whole European fiber network. The upgrade, which should be finished by the end of January, consists of trenching fiber in the depths of the Rhine River, a particularly delicate manipulation. The results are consistent with the efforts we put into the project, however, as's data centers will now benefit from four independent connections (2x Paris to Strasbourg, plus 2x Strasbourg to Frankfurt) that will protect against any accidental severing of a cable's sheath. This also means that our customers will enjoy a vastly improved bandwidth. is, at the same time, negotiating the development of two more fiber routes towards Milan -via Zurich-, with the idea of making Strasbourg servers ever closer to Swiss and Italian users. This direct connection will be effective starting Q3 2013.
Lastly, a vast project concerning all OVH teams has just began: the update of the already existing international network, starting with Europe, and then the US. Old data transmission equipment must be replaced with the latest DWDM generation, all supplied by our partner, Infinera. [We'll come back to it later in a future article.]

Octave Klaba has mentioned on Twitter his intention of building a datacenter in Germany. Comments ?

Indeed, we are projecting the construction of a data center on the German side of the Rhine. It would be positioned in Kehl, a dozen miles from our Strasbourg location. This small data center (10000 servers capacity estimation) will grant quite the asset to appeal to German customers: servers on their own territory. Thanks to its German subsidiary in Sarrebruck, has been making a name for itself in Germany since 2006. This will be the occasion of taking things to the next level.
For information, on Twitter, Oles said: “We're going to test out the theory that says that Germans only buy German.”