A French court has ordered OVHcloud to pay damages to two customers who lost data in the 2021 fire at its Strasbourg datacenter.
The fire occurred in March 2021 and two buildings at the site, SBG1 and SBG2 went up in flames. SBG2, a five-storey, 500m2 data centre, and its contents were destroyed, while SBG1 was partially damaged, affecting servers housed there. The building was subsequently written off. Two other buildings, SBG3 and SBG4, were fine. Backups of some customers’ data were lost and affected customers, including Bluepad and Bati Courtage, began legal proceedings against OVH in the Commercial Court of Lille Métropole (le Tribunal de Commerce de Lille.)
BluePad is a SaaS project management software supplier based in Metz, France, which had production data and processes running in a server located in the SBG1 and backup data stored in a second system in the SBG2. OVH told Bluepad, after the fire, that the two systems were in the same building, SBG2. Bluepad managed its own backup but alleged it hadn’t received the correct information from OVH on the location of the servers. All the data was lost and Bluepad subsequently sued OVH in the Lille Metropole Commercial Court for €330,155 ($359633) to cover its losses.
OVH’s lawyers argued the statement of the production server being in SBG1 had no contractual liability and that, anyway, the fire was “force majeure” and therefore it was not liable for any customer losses.
However OVH customer data and diagrams showed the production server was located in SBG1 and the judge found that the location was a contractual matter. Although OVH was actually able to recover the backup server, its engineers found that they had restarted the server with purge scripts which delated data, including Bluepad’s backup data. OVH was found to be liable for this too.
On March 16 the court found in favor of Bluepad, ordering OVH to pay it €153,837 ($167,572). OVH reportedly intends to appeal that decision.
The Bati Courtage case was also founded on its understanding that backup data was stored in a separate building from the SBG2-located VPS server-based production data for its brokerage and contractor networking business. The fire rendered Bati Courtage’s websites inoperable and no backup data could be recovered as the backup data system was actually in the same building as the production server.
Bati Courtage sued OVH in July 2021 in the Lille Metropole Commercial Court, requesting more than €6.5 million ($7.08 million) in damages. The court’s February 3 decision said that nowhere in the contract between OVH and Bati Courtage, which specified there were 3 backup copies, was the term “local backup” mentioned. In fact the OVH backup contract stated that the “back-up option is physically isolated from the infrastructure in which the VPS server is set up.” That was not the case as both systems were in the same building.
OVH was ordered to pay Bati Courtage €101,102 ($110,129) in compensatory damages. It has appealed the judgement.
Other court cases against OVH for losses caused by the fire remain outstanding. We have asked OVH to comment and it said in a statement: “We have been informed of the decision of the Tribunal de Commerce de Lille Métropole in the context of the litigation which opposes us to Bluepad and Bati Courtage. This decision has yet to be notified to us.” “
“As soon as this is the case, we intend to appeal this decision in order to defend all our positions.”
“From the very first hour, OVHcloud has been mobilized to support its affected customers in order to help them in the best possible conditions. Commercial gestures were thus granted for all the services that were impacted and we keep on exchanging regularly with those of our customers who were in particularly difficult situations.”
“We continue to monitor each case carefully and remain committed to assisting all of our clients in the best possible conditions.”
This is all very well but the judge of the “best possible conditions” is OVHcloud and its views have not been clearly not been supported by customers such as Bati Courtage and Bluepad.