A fire at a French cloud computing services firm earlier this week destroyed one data center and damaged another, blocking access to millions of websites in Europe and around the world. A report by the Reuters news agency said the blaze started on Wednesday night at OVAcloud, which operates four data centers in Strasbourg in eastern France.

OVHcloud describes itself as a provider of Dedicated Servers, VMware® based Hosted Private Cloud, and OpenStack-based Public Cloud services. With 1.5 million customers worldwide, it’s the largest cloud provider in Europe and the third-largest in the world. In a statement on Twitter, the company said no one was injured in the fire.

Millions of Websites Affected

A UK-based analyst told Reuters that the destroyed and damaged data centers hosted 3.6 million websites. Among them were government agency portals, banks, news websites, the cryptocurrency exchange Derebit and the Centre Pompidou. The developer of the videogame Rust announced on Twitter a total loss of its EU servers and no possibility of restoring the data lost in the fire.

No explanation has yet been given for the fire, which comes just days after OVHcloud announced plans for an initial public offering. Since its founding in 1999, OVHcloud has tried to position itself as a competitor for global market share with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud. The company operates 17 data centers in France and 32 internationally.

Next Steps for OVHcloud

The company’s most recent announcement said it has begun assessing the extent of the damage in Strasbourg and expects to restore power to the data centers that are still functional by next week. At least one data center will need to be entirely rebuilt. A second will require partial reconstruction.

In the meantime, additional infrastructure is being added to sites in Roubaix and Graveline to meet customer demand. OVHcloud said its main priorities in the coming days include reserving infrastructure at other sites to serve affected customers, securing the Strasbourg site and getting the operational data centers up and running as soon as possible, and assessing the ongoing impact on its customer base.

Fire Highlights Need for Emergency Plan

As the scope of the fire was still being determined, OVHcloud urged its clients to initiate their disaster recovery plans. These contingency plans are essential for continuity of operations during a time of crisis, either by fire in the case of OVHcloud, or in response to a ransomware attack or some other cyber threat. They generally address the security of business and customer data, so that operations can be resumed in a timely manner when the crisis has passed.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security has included guidelines in its Cyber Essentials for proper cyber readiness. These include multiple system backups that preserve your business-critical information in offline encrypted storage.

Backups are essential for any recovery from a disaster or cyberattack. And storing multiple copies of your data in secure locations and disconnected from your computer network gives you the assurance that your information will be intact and recoverable no matter what emergency situation you face, be it fire, natural disaster, or cyberattack.

Preparing for the Worst

At least one OVHcloud customer, the developers of the video game Rust, have permanently lost data in the fire. No further announcements have been made about the extent of the loss or how the company planned to proceed. But businesses that use cloud services must have data redundancy plans in place for just this kind of situation.

SecureData’s data security strategy begins with offline encrypted backup storage. Our SecureDrive devices are FIPS-validated and hardware-encrypted for the highest level of security available. SecureDrive BT and SecureUSB BT devices are remote management ready for additional layers of security in case your drive is lost or stolen. And all SecureDrive devices come with built-in drive-based DriveSecurity® antivirus protection.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike. When cloud servers go down, it could take weeks to restore access. Make sure you have a contingency plan. SecureDrive can help,

Call us today at 1-424-363-8535 to speak to one of our data security experts about a solution that will keep your business-critical data secure and accessible at all times.