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European data giant sets up shop in Cambridge



A major European cloud-based data centre has opened its doors in Cambridge, bringing with it a $145 million long-term investment.

OVHcloud originates in France. Its centres host and store data for businesses of all sizes using a vertically integrated model.

“We design and we build our own servers, we design and operate our own data centres and we deploy our own fibre network,” explained Estelle Azemard, OVHcloud’s vice president of the Americas.

The Cambridge site marks the company’s second location in Canada. OVHcloud said it will invest $145 million in the new facility over the next eight years, as well as providing jobs for the local economy.

Azemard added that OVHcloud has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. One key piece to the company’s environmentally-focused approach is an original cooling system for its servers.

“Basically, the water comes down a pipe on the [central processing unit]. It cools down the CPU and then the hot water goes down and is cooled down by another centre,” Azemard explained.

She said 80 per cent of the heat is absorbed by the water cooling system and the other 20 per cent by optimizing airflow. This lowers the company’s energy usage, ultimately saving it and customers money.

Azemard said the region’s proximity to Toronto and its thriving tech sector made it the perfect destination for the new data centre.

“It was critical for us to extend our footprint, first to offer resiliency to our actual customers but also to bring the alternative cloud for this huge technical system here in this area,” she added.

Finishing touches are being put on the 10,000 foot plant, which opened two weeks ago. It’s located at the Ascent Tor1 facility in Cambridge.

Tyler Pamer, the critical facilities manager for Ascent, called the company an easy fit. Ascent engineers worked closely with OVHcloud engineers to make the space compatible.

“Their choice to locate their second Canadian data centre here really is a testament of the talent here in the local ecosystem,” he said, referencing the tech industry.

Cambridge Mayor Jan Liggett also played a role in bringing the company to the city.  

In November, Liggett met with executives and toured the company’s headquarters in Paris. She said they were already eyeing the Region of Waterloo, but felt the meeting cemented the deal.

“My job, when I go on those missions, is to sell the community,” Liggett explained. “Here in this area, we are an innovation hub. We have a lot of different companies that could be spinoff companies for them where they have a clientele. We have a lot of companies here which will help boost their industry.”

Liggett also said OVHcloud could help when it comes to data breaches.

“You see what’s happening today with cybersecurity with a lot of municipalities. They are the type of company that will help us out of trouble,” she said. “People tend to think of Waterloo as being the only part of the tech industry, but we’ve got a tech industry here in Cambridge that people aren’t aware of and I want to see the expansion of that.”

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