The data center industry has suffered a huge loss this holiday weekend with the passing of Olivier Sanche, head of Apple’s Data Center program. He was an incredibly thoughtful man, a great father and husband, and very sincerely a great friend. As I got off the phone with his brother and wife in France who gave me this devastating news and I could not help but remember my first encounter with Olivier. At the time he worked for Ebay and we were both invited to speak and debate at an industry event in Las Vegas. As we sat in a room full of ‘experts’ to discuss the future of our industry, the conversation quickly turned controversial. Passions were raised and I found myself standing side by side with this enigmatic French giant on numerous topics. His passion for the space coupled with his cool logic were items that endeared me greatly to the man. We were comrades in ideas, and soon became fast friends.
Olivier was the type of person who could light up a room with his mere presence. It was as if he embraced the entire room in one giant hug even if they were strangers. He could sit quietly mulling a topic, pensively going through his calculations and explode into the conversation and rigorously debate everyone. That passion never belied his ability to learn, to adapt, to incorporate new thinking into his persona either. Through the years we knew each other I saw him forge his ideas through debate, always evolving. Many people know the public Olivier, the Olivier they saw at press conferences, or speaking engagements, and the like. Some of us, got to know Olivier much better. The data center industry is small indeed and those of us who have had the pleasure and terror at working in the worlds largest infrastructures know a special kind of bond. We routinely meet off-hours and have dinner and drinks. Its a small cadre of names you probably know, or have heard about, joined in the fact that we have all dealt with or are dealing with challenges most data center environments will never see. In these less formal affairs, company positions melted away, technological challenges came to the fore, and most importantly the real people behind these companies emerge. In these forums, you could always count on Olivier to be a warm and calming force. He was incredibly intelligent, and although he might disagree, you could count on him to champion the free discussion of ideas.
It was in those types of forums where I truly met Olivier. The man who was so dedicated to his family, and the light of his life little Emilie. His honesty and direct to the point style made it easy to understand where you stood, and where he was coming from.
More information about memorial services and the like will be coming out shortly and they are trying to get the word out to all of his friends.
The world has lost a great mind, Apple has lost a visionary, His family has lost their world, and I have lost a good friend.
Adieu, Dear Olivier, You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
15 thoughts on “Olivier Sanche, My Dear Friend, Adieu”
Mike, as always, well stated. I echo your sentiments on Olivier, and am devastated at his loss. He will be sorely missed and these are difficult times indeed. . . . Olivier was a uniquely gifted soul in the way he could impact others, his personality one in a million, I consider myself lucky to have known him. Thank you.
Mes condoléances et mon soutien a sa famille.
Mike, very eloquently stated. You have summed up the man perfectly. When I first met him, I was struck by how he was so focused on his family, though he was thousands of miles away from them. He was a great teacher, and a great leader. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing.
I worked with and got to know Olivier during his stint with AT&T. I remember how excited he was during Karine’s pregnancy with Emilie, how driven and optimistic he was when a new challenge came his way, how he tried to comfort those who worked for him and who he worked along side of on 9/11, how much he enjoyed working in his garden at his home in Atlanta. And to everyone he was just “O”. I knew of no one who did not like him.
When he moved to New York I visited him and his family in Brooklyn. He was eager to show me how easy it was to live in the big city, after coming from a place where cars are such a necessity. He had me time him on my watch to show me how long it took him to get from his living room in their Brooklyn walk-up, drop off some videos at the rental store down the block and get back again (under 2:00 minutes). Afterwards, we shared a glass of eau de vie, made by his father. He was a funny guy, so proud of his beautiful wife and baby, and he was my friend. I expected him to rule the world one day, or at least Apple, and do a good job at it as well.
Karine, Emilie, mes prières et mon coeur sont avec vous. Je vous remercie de l’avoir partagé avec moi.
The service should be on Friday afternoon in Pignan, near Montpellier in the south of France.
An other service will be held in California at a later date.
Thank you Mike for this great post in Olivier’s memory.
For further informations: firstname.lastname@example.org
The boss that I did not know – I wish we have had that coffee time you have offered, to know each other better…. For the 16 months you are with us, you are truly will be missed, our heart and prayers goes out to you and your family.
I remember meeting Olivier in the late 90’s while at AT&T. He was always friendly, comfortable to be around, and extremely intelligent. As the years went by, we lost touch, but reconnected about a year ago. I always wanted to take a minute to catch up and find out how things were going, but there never seemed to be time. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. So sad…
I just found out, I worked for O at AT&T and he had a lot to do with my career. I will be always grateful.
Thank you Olivier, you will be missed.