The OVH fire raises the question of the vulnerability of certain data centers

The premises of the OVH company after the fire on Wednesday 10 March, in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin).
The premises of the OVH company after the fire on Wednesday March 10, in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin). (PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

According to the specialist company Netcraft, more than 3.5 million websites were victims of the disaster that occurred during the night of Tuesday 9 to Wednesday 10 March in the number two data center of the OVH company in Strasbourg. The list is endless: site of Strasbourg airport, the UPR political party, the Center Pompidou in Paris, sports clubs, gyms or even the ENT (Digital Work Environment) of the National Education, etc. . There are also cloud services, email messaging, domain names, data files that are affected as well.

OVH is indeed the largest French host. It is estimated that it hosts around two-thirds of French sites. It is also a European nugget and many French companies or administrations choose it because it is a national player. Why did some sites come back faster than others? Because there are those who had backup servers or backups, and those who did not, like, for example, the fashionable video game Rust, whose European data would be lost.

This kind of incident is a reminder that the computing cloud is not virtual but very real. It materializes in vulnerable infrastructures. In principle, data centers are well protected, but there are always industrial risks. There are hypersecure data centers in the world, buried underground or under mountains, but which are reserved for strategic, economic or military data.

There is also a reality specific to digital technology, which is the concentration of data. A website is nothing more than a small piece of hard drive, so a 500m² warehouse can store millions of sites that can be swept away by fire. This case will perhaps help to raise awareness of the need for security and backup systems which, of course, represent an additional cost for content distributors.

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