Open Innovation: a collaborative cornerstone of our open cloud

At OVHcloud, we want to help everyone freely innovate, using the open cloud that we have been developing. In support of this commitment, we have brought together an ecosystem of partners and customers who use our transparent, reversible and interoperable cloud.

Open Innovation: a collaborative cornerstone of our open cloud

This cloud is based on our in-house expertise, combining our industrial disruptions with our ability to develop and automate alternative cloud solutions. We also rely on the innovations of our technological partners (often integrated as an advance preview), on our network of partners and on our Marketplace sellers who bring their own added value in terms of consulting, support, technological building blocks or packaged solutions. Finally, we use open-source communities to accelerate our developments and improve our products.

Thanks to Open Source, we can support our users as their needs evolve, providing them with cheaper and more flexible solutions. In addition to this support and contribution, we have become a member of the Open Invention Network (OIN), in an endeavour to do more to preserve and protect a movement whose values we have always shared.

Finally, and in more general terms, as Open Innovation is an integral part of our company culture, our Patent Pledge declaration is an even stronger promise of our commitment to freedom of development, as we allow communities to use the methods or protocols protected by our patents.

Open Innovation is at the heart of our industrial model

At OVHcloud, we are not afraid to think outside the box, to be inventive, to find our own path. In order to create value for our customers, we first need to create value for our business needs. We are constantly designing industrial solutions that are increasingly intelligent, frugal and eco-efficient so that we can integrate them into our datacentres.

We are continuously optimising our power distribution and cooling systems; water cooling, which we managed to industrialise very early on, is one of the most notable examples. As with most of our innovations, we transposed and adapted what was already working (in this case, using water’s heat transfer properties to cool desktop computers) in order to innovate and create our own datacentre-wide solutions.

Since 2001, as part of our Product Hacking initiative, we have also been designing our servers’ hardware architecture by selecting or developing components. Thanks to this Made in OVHcloud design, we can constantly optimise the performance of our Bare Metal Cloud (which supports the performance of our Hosted Private Cloud, Public Cloud and Web Cloud).

This combination of multiple innovations, both on our infrastructures and on our servers, also allows us to reduce our costs. It is thanks to this ongoing quest for the best price/performance ratio that we remain a leader in the European cloud market, and we are now identified as the leading European cloud provider in the global market in certain market segments (as shown in Forrester Wave 2020 and IDC Marketscape 2020).

For the first ten years of our activity, our main challenge was managing server density, so that we could increase our hosting capacity to meet the growing demand, despite only having a few datacentres in France. Back then, we used to keep our disruptions under the seal of industrial secrecy, to maintain our agility and efficiency.

In 2011, with our strong international expansion, we filed our first patents, primarily in the hardware sector. Then, from 2017, as our growth came with an increase in expertise, we began filing patents in more diversified areas. We wanted to assert our intellectual property to prevent other companies from preempting our industrial innovations and not claiming the rights. This strategy was clearly defensive, at a time when our innovations were being deployed in different datacentres around the world. We wanted to put in place a legal framework that was agile and protective enough for us to share our creations and enhance them with local industrial ecosystems wherever we set up new server clusters.

We then took this open, collaborative approach to an Open Hardware mindset when we joined the Open Compute Project in 2018, and since then, we have regularly shared our progress with OCP members.  We are convinced that this system of industrial innovation, based on collaboration and sharing, allows each party to do better and act faster. This pooling of knowledge aims for an open standardisation of datacentres, but more importantly, an overall improvement in their energy efficiency, which is closely linked to our strategic plan.

OVHcloud cooling system presentation by Ali Cherade, Head of R&D Cooling, at OCP, December 2020
OVHcloud cooling system presentation by Ali Chehade, Head of R&D Cooling, at OCP

Open Source guarantees software independence

Our open cloud is also based on our software activity. Our solutions are always developed following market standards – with which our customers are often familiar, so that they can be users of it themselves – working closely with VMware, Veeam, Zerto and many other companies.

Aside from these standards, our solutions are mainly based on open source technology, which was our first step towards an open innovation approach. Being a historic part of this movement has been the cornerstone of our commitments to individual freedoms. We have always practised open, collaborative development, which allows our ecosystem to access the source code of the software solutions (or software components) that we regularly release on GitHub.

We are thus opening many of our own projects to the Open Source community. In the last few months we have released projects like The Bastion security infrastructure, the Kubernetes operator for Harbor or the Erlenmeyer and Catalyst tools for TSDBs.

We have also joined communities: The Linux Foundation (in 2018, with the launch of the Ceph Foundation), and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (in 2019). As a result, our developments are never exposed to lobbying issues, but instead are guided by independent contributors or the board members of various foundations committed to Open Source.

Furthermore, we guarantee sovereignty for our users’ data across all of the technologies they use, whether they are using a market standard or open-source software.

Our active participation in Open Source communities guarantees our users transparency, reversibility and interoperability in our cloud solutions. Once again, our strategy is purely defensive, as it involves creating an open-source portfolio of software solutions  to protect us against potential attacks, while securing their freedom to be used by both us and the Open Source community.

In 2020, we wanted to go even further, and we joined the Open Invention Network (OIN). By joining this intellectual property fund of companies from around the world, we are pooling our Linux patents to protect this open-source operating system from legal action. By joining the OIN, we licence our patents, without fees, on the same footing as all other international members. By sharing all of our software patents, we are even more committed to defending open-source values and protecting a shared heritage.

Open Invention Network (OIN)

Finally, as a founding member of Gaia-X, we want to foster innovation and collaboration to build an open European digital ecosystem and a data infrastructure based on openness, transparency and interoperability.


The Patent Pledge: the culmination of our commitment

But we do not want to stop there. In order to provide further assurance to Open Source contributors, we are making our technologies even more accessible by publicly sharing our patents under certain conditions. This Patent Pledge is a guarantee that we will not challenge any open-source software that may be linked to any of our existing or future software patents. It consolidates our patent-opening strategy in order to enrich the cloud market and strengthen our technological leadership, and, once again, it protects the open-source community. 

Patent Pledge

Building a transparent, reversible and interoperable cloud, and guaranteeing sovereignty for our users’ data, are the driving forces that make a difference for us. These are challenges that we take up every day, thanks to an ecosystem of partners, customers and communities that share our values of openness and collaboration. With them, we are building an alternative cloud that is fairer and more responsible, so that innovation can work for everyone. 

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VP Industrial Engineering at OVHcloud