Screen-Shot-2013-11-04-at-11.10.25You may (or may not) have heard that there was an earthquake on October the 15th 2013 in the Philippines, specifically in Bohol, which is the location of one of our worldwide offices. I, as CEO, received the text shortly after 1AM my time (I am based in Ireland) from my chief lieutenant in Bohol and only saw the text at 6.30AM or thereabouts when I woke up.

The earthquake hit about 60KM from our office in Tagbilaran City and, at 7.2 in the Richter Scale, qualified as a “massive” earthquake. As human beings the immediate concern of my wife and I, directors of the company, was of course for our staff over there and their immediate families. Over the following 24 to 48 hours the picture became clear that our Bohol staff were all OK, although unfortunately one of our engineer’s family home was destroyed.

Having support engineers in other countries meant our customer support wasn’t affected that week with everyone stepping up to the plate. It was a traumatic week for our staff in Bohol, especially with some of their family and friends affected.

How does a company survive when a large number of its developers and support engineers and technicians are affected by an act of God like this? One of my lawyer friends asked me if we had disaster insurance. The real insurance is the fact that our servers are not near any of our offices. We are a cloud technology company who also use the cloud for our software development and support. The servers we use are under the ground in a desert in the United States, well away from fault lines.

Our Bohol engineers were heavily involved in disaster relief. My chief lieutenant there, Jerome Auza, led relief of local villages cutoff by a major bridge that was taken down. He was in a customer site in Israel within seven days setting up a brand new product and is now back in Bohol. On arriving back he and his team fixed an important customer issue which came up with a customer in the USA. On a national holiday!

The lessons learnt? The resilience, resourcefulness and commitment of Filipinos. The advantages of the cloud when a natural disaster hits. The onward march of nature. We have people on the ground in multiple countries now, though a ground which sometimes can shift in an unexpected manner.

John O’Donnell