A unicorn in the cloud: Octave Klaba, CEO of OVH

A unicorn in the cloud: Octave Klaba, CEO of OVH 450 450 C-Suite Network
A unicorn in the cloud: Octave Klaba

In a conference room at Les Docks de Paris, the stage is awash with flashing lights as the drum intro kicks off the show. In front of a crowd of smiling fans, OVH founder Octave Klaba shreds a riff from AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff’ on electric guitar. Beside him, then-OVH CEO Laurent Allard plays on bass, calm as you like – the pair could just as easily be jamming in their garage. Together they are the rock stars of cloud computing, and this is their musical introduction for the 2016 OVH Summit.

As well as offering unique musical treats, the free event allowed OVH customers, partners and providers to voice concerns, ask questions, celebrate accomplishments and strengthen the collaboration. All IT professionals were encouraged to attend the various business and technical workshops to gain insights into an array of complex IT solutions and projects – the mentality behind the event tagline: “Changing the world together”.

Unsurprisingly, Octave has always had an intense curiosity about technology and computer science. This passion saw him found OVH in 1999 at the relatively youthful age of 24. “I have been fascinated by computer technology ever since I was 5 or 6 years old and that is why I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Octave.

He went from CEO and CTO, then to CTO and Chairman – appointing Laurent Allard to the front seat in 2015 so he could spend more time focusing on the technology side – and then back to CEO again this year to lead the execution of the company’s technology agenda through the next phase of strategic growth.

Tech enthusiast Octave Klaba

The tech enthusiast was born in Poland in 1975, and by the early-90s he had seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, moved to France and studied at the Icam School of Engineering in Lille, training in the art of management within large-scale mature industries. But as is often the case, his career took a turn into entrepreneurialism.

Octave Klaba

“While at Icam, I spent my nights creating web pages, and when my American hosting space had no more storage left for my data, I immediately booked a flight to the US,” he explains.

“There, I learned that creating a custom-built server was quite simple. So once I returned to France, I created OVH with €4,000 that I’d borrowed from my family.”

I learned that creating a custom-built server was quite simple. So once I returned to France, I created OVH with €4,000 that I borrowed from my family.

Little by little, his father, mother and brother also joined in the adventure. Together, they grew the business from a fledgling hosting web company to a US$1 billion global company offering public and private cloud platforms, virtual private servers, dedicated servers, plus an array of web hosting and telecommunications services.

OVH is a leading global cloud provider

Currently the only non-American global cloud provider, OVH opened its first data centre in 2001, producing its first server in 2002, and opening its first European subsidiaries in Spain and Poland by 2004. Come 2009 and Octave was following the path of IP telephony, which took him to the cloud computing market. Then in 2011 OVH became an official ISP in France, and Octave set out to build the world’s largest data centre and expand its footprint into North America (Canada).

OVH has grown rapidly to become a leading provider of dedicated cloud infrastructure; today the company has more than 20 operational data centres around the world, which house around 270,000 machines, as well as being home to 18 million websites and 4 million domain names.

“We offer a wider range of services, more than our competitors. We are the only ones offering a choice among Public Cloud, Private Cloud and Dedicated Servers, all in a single private network, and with an application programming interface,” says Octave.

“This allows large enterprises to transfer their existing infrastructures to our Dedicated Server and Private Cloud infrastructures, without any modification. Then, and only then, can they begin the transformation of their applications using the Public Cloud in a natural way and still with OVH.” With this method, Octave says companies can save money that can then be reinvested into the strategic transformation of their IT applications.

Unicorn status

The company also claims a strong track record in innovation, which Octave says is a result of a prevailing start-up culture and ongoing company growth. OVH has a team of 400 dedicated research and development engineers. “Today we are a business with a global reach, but we wish to conserve a start-up dynamic,” he comments.

“We maintain and develop the power of execution of a smaller company, through the development of very collaborative and agile business models. At OVH, we have found a model that allows us to have a growth capacity…