I longingly remember being a Systems Administrator configuring all my infrastructure through a variety of consoles. Those days are far behind me now since I spend much of my time helping customers navigate the new cloud world where infrastructure is managed through automation. It can be difficult to orchestrate pieces of the infrastructure into your server provisioning lifecycle but some vendors are embracing the new provisioning methods. Rubrik is one infrastructure company that has built a platform to thrive in this new automated world.
Most of the time when I undertake a new automation workflow, we’re trying to figure out how exactly we’re going to make a piece of our infrastructure do things without a person interacting with it. This usually results in some questions about the platform’s application programming interface (API) to see if we can accomplish our goals. Rubrik has been an infrastructure solution that spends a great deal of time ensuring that their solution will be easily integrated into these automation environments.
My absolute favorite thing about Rubrik is that it’s simple to use and setup. Create an SLA, assign a virtual machine to it, and go do more interesting things with your time. Well, what if we forget about that whole, assign a virtual machine to SLA thing altogether?
Rubrik can be configured to check the vCenter hierarchy and automatically add virtual machines to an SLA based on their location within that hierarchy. To add some context around this idea, think about creating a folder structure where under your production VMs, you have three folders named “Gold”, “Silver”, and “Bronze.”
Rubrik’s appliances can be setup to automatically add any of the machines in the “Gold” folder to the “Gold” SLAdomain and similar setups for the silver and bronze folders. This means that whenever we deploy a new virtual machine, we don’t have to worry about logging into our backup appliance to ensure the VM is protected, if we placed it in the right vCenter folder.
This is awesome because we don’t even have to know anything about code or RESTfull APIs to have some automation in our environment. If you’ve got a Rubrik appliance in your environment, you can probably go ahead and add “Automation” to your list of Linkedin skills.
Now we’re not going to get lucky and assume that everything we want to do through Rubrik can be done via magical processes like the one we just mentioned. Luckily, we have their RESTful API to fall back on. The Rubrik API is the engine for everything that Rubrik does. Even if you configure something through the console, that is just making an API call behind the scenes. This is important because we know that everything that’s available in the console, will be available through the API. That translates to a robust feature set that we can leverage for our automation routines.
Big deal right? We’ve been hearing this quite a bit recently for any new solutions. An API first mentality, it’s called. But Rubrik has put some extra emphasis on this and instead of just providing a way for you to do it, they’ve built some tools for you to more quickly realize the potential of the API and how you can get started.
First of all they’ve provided the PowerShell module which allows you to read vSphere tags and use those key value pairs to assign an SLA. This is great because now we can tag a VM with whatever values we want and have those values drive our backups.
On top of that, they have a vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) package that allows you to do even more things without having to know too much of that nasty coding. The vRO package allows you to perform automated routines such as adding vms to backup SLAs as well as being able to do an instant recovery. The workflows themselves don’t even require you to know any scripting experience. Once you’re comfortable with that, it can very easily be added to a vRealize Automation (vRA) catalog so that a VMs can be provisioned and added to a backup through a self-service portal.
Easy to Learn
Many companies have documented their APIs and some of that documentation is even easy to follow. But in many cases the documentation isn’t very good and it’s difficult to get started with using it. Rubrik builds in an API explorer into each of the appliances which makes it easy to get started and see what API calls are available. This isn’t something exclusive to Rubrik, but it does show their dedication to extending their capabilities to automation.
The cloud puts even more pressure on us to drive automation and Rubrik isn’t shying away from the challenge. Rubrik has recently provided the ability to deploy their appliances in Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. Now you can backup EC2 instances with Rubrik and you must imagine this is going to even further enhance their automation strategy. AWS tags are used for all sorts of use cases and I would guess that Rubrik will enhance their strategy to allow you to automatically add machines to an SLA.
With vSphere 6.5 and up, the vSphere tagging has been exposed through the API so Rubrik sure must be working on their code base to include that as part of the SLA domain strategy.
Automation must be prevalent if you’re building any new infrastructure solutions. Rubrik has done a really nice job of building a copy data management platform that is positioned very well for an automated infrastructure deployment. Everything is built on the API and they’ve even given their customers a great jump start on leveraging it even if you don’t know anything about coding.