Earlier this year, a catastrophic fire hit French cloud services provider OVHcloud, wiping out one of its datacentres and causing significant damage to another.

The impact of this unforeseen event was huge.

Millions of websites worldwide went down, resulting in loss of service, revenue and sales opportunities for businesses and organisations of all sizes.

Even 24 hours after the event, many major websites were still down as their owners scrambled around implementing their disaster recovery plans to try and get things back to normal.

Fortunately, while events like this are rare, they do occur and when they happen, the ripples are felt across the industry and beyond.

However, events like this give us the opportunity to reflect on the impacts and see what lessons can be learned.

Although most businesses and organisations might feel they are insulated from such an event directly impacting them, that’s not strictly true.

It could happen to any business, and those without a sufficient business continuity and disaster recovery solution in place are usually the ones hit the hardest.

So, here we take a closer look at the OVH fire and what MSPs can learn from it.

What was the OVH fire?

OVHcloud is a French cloud services firm that offers virtual private servers, dedicated web servers and other cloud provisions. It also operates the world’s largest datacentre by surface area and is the largest hosting provider in Europe.

In March, it suffered a fire at its datacentre in Strasbourg, which disrupted millions of websites across Europe. The fire affected government agencies, banks, retailers and news websites, as well as taking out around two per cent of all websites with a .fr domain name.

The fire completely destroyed one of its datacentres and damaged another.

Around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the multi-storey building, which took several hours to get under control.

The affected servers hosted 3.6 million websites for organisations and businesses as far afield as the UK, Poland and the Ivory Coast.

It was the perfect example of a critical event outside of the control of the businesses that suffered, which profoundly impacted their operations and highlighted the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

What can we learn from the OVH fire?

When it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery, there are many lessons we can learn from the OVH fire.

As an incident, it was unprecedented, widely publicised and affected an enormous number of OVH customers.

As it was happening, the firm’s founder, Octave Klaba, tweeted, ‘we recommend you activate your Disaster Recovery Plan’.

In the aftermath of the fire, it emerged that come OVHcloud customers had lost data permanently. More than 24 hours after the event, many websites were still offline.

However, it provided a timely reminder to not only OVH’s customers but businesses in general of the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery.

While the fire was tragic and couldn’t have been predicted by anyone, many businesses were affected, and it sent shockwaves across the industry.

While wifi and broadband connectivity can sometimes be patchy and automated ecommerce systems can sometimes glitch, datacentres are usually so reliable that customers expect them always to be operational.

When they go down, it can cause huge issues.

The importance of BCDR for ICT

The OVH fire has placed renewed focus on the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery for ICT.

This is how you plan for – and mitigate – the risks to service continuity. It’s about ensuring an organisation’s ICT function – whether in-house or MSP – can continue to deliver the service it’s responsible for.

When it comes to business continuity planning, some of the questions you should be asking yourself include what would happen if your network, datacentre or applications went down, what amount of data loss would be acceptable, and how long you could survive without it.

You’ll also need to consider the potential financial, legal, compliance, regulatory and customer service impacts of your ICT being unavailable.

Once you have determined these, you’ll need to work out how much you are prepared to spend on a BCDR solution and whether you have the budget.

If the organisation has done its business continuity planning correctly, it should have plans in place to minimise the damage and risk caused by the unforeseen loss of data, people, infrastructure and workspace.

As the OVH fire has shown, this can happen unexpectedly, at any time, and can have devastating impacts.

Can you afford to take the risk of not getting the proper protection in place?

How can BCDR help?

BCDR provides industry-leading business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to help businesses get back up and running quickly in the event of a critical data loss.

We enable MSPs to secure their clients’ networks and data.

Unlike other providers, our service is primarily built around ensuring business continuity to keep downtime to a minimum so businesses can continue to provide exceptional service to their own customers.

If you’re looking for a new approach to business continuity and disaster recovery, we’ve got your back. Get in touch today to find out more.