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.