IT backup systems on the premises are not the best way to keep data, says Christchurch business vBridge.

Several Christchurch business owners and management risked their lives after the February 2011 earthquake, venturing into dangerous buildings to rescue companies' computer servers and data.

Christchurch businesses had invested heavily in IT systems on premises but could not access them locally or remotely because of access restrictions and loss of power.

The hosted infrastructure provider, vBridge, set up by Hamish Roy and John Ward, had been going for a just couple of months when the September 2010 earthquake struck.

The quake got business owners thinking about business continuity, and the position they would have been in had the shake been worse.


After the February quake, vBridge was deluged with people walking in off the street looking for help.

"We had mum and dad businesses coming in with parts of their computer," says Roy. "They came in with hard drives and we had to extract the data from it."

By deploying Hewlett-Packard storage technology, including HP LeftHand Storage, vBridge avoided customer downtime in either of the Christchurch earthquakes.

"HP brought in four pallets of hardware - it flew it in to help Christchurch businesses get operational again," says Roy.

"The key thing for businesses is about trying to be competitive in the market. If your competition is up and running and you are not, then you are losing out," says Ward.

It wasn't all beer and skittles for the two entrepreneurs personally. Their office was "red-zoned" for a week, so they based themselves at a data centre.

"Hamish was dealing with a destroyed house. He had a new business, young children and his house was in tatters," says Ward.

"We were migrating businesses' infrastructure by day, and shovelling silt by night," he says.


The pair were recovering systems for businesses that had lost their premises and data and for businesses that immediately wanted to reduce their risk by using vBridge.

Two years on, vBridge has seen an 1100 per cent increase in demand for virtualised infrastructure services or hosted cloud services, requiring the company to upgrade its data centre.

Like many technical entrepreneurs, Roy and Ward were not experienced salesmen when they set up. They were from corporate and government IT backgrounds.

But the earthquakes have helped support their argument that backing up your company data in the corner of the office is the most risky thing you can do.

"We have had to be an ambassador in the market we are in. We are trying to get a good understanding across of how our technology will benefit users," says Roy.

"It's getting that understanding out there in the market - that cloud is not something to be afraid of. It can grow your business, give it a competitive advantage.

"We believe strongly in the product that is emerging - through a very collaborative approach.

"It's not about selling boxes, it's talking to customers about their challenges and designing something specific for them."

vBridge's customers pay a monthly rental depending on what the customer consumes. The company has data sites in Christchurch, Ashburton and Auckland, and customers throughout the country, with the majority in Christchurch.

"We want to be and are growing into being a nationwide provider. Our strategy is to be in Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin."

The firm's revenue is achieving steep growth with turnover at just under $1 million.