March 10, 2021 began with a tragedy for OVHcloud and 3.6 million websites located on its Strasbourg servers. A fire destroyed one of OVH’s datacenters and caused two others to go offline. While the fire department was quick to respond, the impact of this incident has been huge.

Websites became inaccessible; and with the data center site being off limits, it will be a while before the offline centers can restart. In fact, many OVHcloud customers aren’t expected to be back online until March 22, 2021.

While this two-week outage is bound to lead to major losses, some companies will not be appeased with refunds and compensation. Such is the case of the video game maker Rust, which lost all of its data in the fire.

So, what are the takeaways from this incident? Two definitely come to mind, and those are listed below.

Always Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

The first thing OVHcloud’s founder Octave Klaba tweeted was, “We recommend to activate your Disaster Recovery Plan.”

The most seriously affected users were those who ran dedicated bare metal servers at the data center. These users do not get access to OVHcloud’s virtual servers. As a result, their data was lost completely.

While data centers are reliable, it is important to keep in mind that 100% reliability is an ideal scenario. As accidents happen, it is imperative that enterprises have some backup and disaster plans ready. That way, they can anticipate risks and take appropriate action accordingly.

Your organization needs to ensure that it can withstand a catastrophe such as a fire. Therefore, you need to go beyond simple automated backups.

Your business continuity and disaster recovery plan should entail comprehensive policies and complete protocols or else it will not be effective. This may require meaningful resources, time and capital. However, the payoff is knowing that your data is safe and you can go back online in no time.

Customers Should Thoroughly Understand their Responsibilities

Many OVH customers who had virtual private servers or dedicated servers without backup. seemed to be under the assumption that their data was saved elsewhere. However, it seems they misunderstood.

Managing virtual private servers as well as dedicated servers is the customer’s own duty, not OVH. Therefore, the companies that bore losses did not know what they were up against.

Even if they did, they probably only considered drive crashes or memory failures and made backups on other servers but in the same building.

Therefore, to avoid any risks, customers should seriously consider what their responsibilities are and plan accordingly.

The current confusion resulting from the OVH fire may also be an indicator that customers did not fully understand the service. It is important that you understand all the details of a service and get its details and assurances in service level agreements (SLAs).

Make sure to thoroughly inspect SLAs for items that address service guarantee and the compensation offered. The latter indicates the service provider’s level of commitment to protecting everything your enterprise holds dear.

Let Us Help Secure Your Business Against Emergencies, Crises and Disasters

Organizations cannot afford extended interruptions in their operations and services. Especially considering the growing number of continuity risks resulting from the pandemic. Therefore, it is imperative that they plan and ensure the availability of critical functions despite dire situations.

Using ISO 22301, we can implement a custom Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) which integrates with your ISO management system, plans for business continuity events, and raises awareness of business continuity requirements.

If you wish to learn more about this and other ways Business Beam can safeguard your information assets, contact us. Our team of senior consultants will gladly guide you to ensure your resilience for years to come.


Ikram Khan

Ikram Khan is the co-founder and CEO of Business Beam & LearningCert. He is also working as a corporate adviser, writer, keynote speaker, and workshop leader.

His consultancy and training offerings reflect his passion for Technology Governance and related areas including project management, IT service management, quality management, and information assurance.

In a career spanning 22+ years, he has successfully completed 100+ performance-optimizing consultancy assignments. Moreover, over 5,000 professionals from 800+ organisations have attended the 260+ training courses and workshops we organised in Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Hong Kong, and Pakistan.

He is an accredited trainer for COBIT, ITIL, DevOps, PRINCE2, P3O, AgileSHIFT, ISO 27001, ISO 20000, ISO 9001, and ISO 38500.

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