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You’ve heard of Rubrik, right? They’re that new backup technology that… Hey, wait don’t go away just yet. Sure, I know that I mentioned backups in the first line of this post, but really their solution’s not as boring as traditional backup appliances used to be. Give it a chance will ya? Now where was I before I stopped you from moving on to those lolcats videos. Oh yeah….
Rubrik’s that new backup solution that makes traditional backups a snap – pun intended. I’m a former Systems Administrator and there was absolutely nothing I hated more than managing backup jobs and reviewing why the backups failed all the time. I viewed backups as that thing I had to do each day as fast as possible, so I could get to the interesting parts of being a Systems Administrator like fielding support calls and patching servers. Hey, I was young and it was a phase I was going through, back off.
Rubrik caught my eye a few years ago when a colleague of mine, Chris Wahl, left my company to go work for a backup company. I knew something serious must be happening there since Chris was excited about lots of technologies and a company that focused strictly on backups was about the last place I expected him to land. After doing some research on Rubrik’s product I was pretty intrigued.
The entire goal of Rubrik’s backup solution is to make backups suck less. During Virtualization Field Day 5, CEO, Bipul Sinha, explained that the goal of Rubrik is to function much like Apple’s Time Machine for the enterprise. If you’re an Apple fanboy, you’ll know that Time Machine runs in the background and you never even think about it again until you need to restore a file. Rubrik’s aim was to do a similar thing for all of the data center infrastructure that people have to manage.
I was skeptical about the entire thing, but once I got to work with the solution myself, I was blown away. Well, as blown away as one can be by a backup solution, right? The setup of the four node “brik” was completed in under an hour and adding backup policies for my vSphere environment came down to setting a schedule, connecting it to vCenter, and picking which VMs need to be backed up. Admittedly, the initial release only worked with vSphere, but it handled vSphere very well. Their 1.0 product worked as advertised but many of the customers I consulted for still had requirements that this backup solution couldn’t solve…yet.
Those objections from my enterprise customers have been getting smaller and smaller. Fast forward two years from the announcements at VFD5, and Rubrik can now tout many of those enterprise features that are required by large companies and to Rubrik’s credit, they’ve stayed true to their original mission statement which was to make backups less painful. In two short years, Rubrik has added the things that enterprise customers demand from a backup product. Whether a capability is needed for a specific use case, a compliance requirement, or a check box for an RFP, Rubrik is becoming, not only an easy to use solution, but a mature solution as well. Last week, Rubrik released version 4.0 of their solution, codenamed Alta, and you can see that the features added since the initial release are pretty impressive for a short time span.
- Encryption Key Management – Try using a backup solution for any type of compliance workload that doesn’t have built-in encryption. Rubrik’s solution also lets you use a Hardware Security Module to make things even more secure, or to check that compliance box if that’s all you’re after.
- Database Backups – Now SQL databases and Oracle RMAN can be targets for backup and recovery which extends the capabilities to the DBAs in the company.
- Hypervisors – Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix Acropolis join VMware vSphere which makes the solution much more palatable in a mixed hypervisor environment.
- Archival – Rubrik backups can be offloaded from the briks and uploaded to Amazon S3, Azure blob storage, NFS, tape, or other object stores.
- Kerberos Authentication – Local usernames and passwords are not acceptable for security auditors.
- Physical Server Backups – Rubrik can now backup file systems in both Windows and Linux.
- TLS Encryption – The communication channel with the GUI and API are now protected through TLS which is another compliance requirement in many cases.
- Replication – Rubrik allows for replication between instances in different data centers and allows for granular retention and replication policies. It also supports multi-target replication which is a frequent ask that I hear from customers.
- APIs – The entire solution is built with the API in mind first. The Rubrik GUI uses the API to make all calls so anything you can do from the GUI, you can do through the API.
- Cloud instantiation – Rubrik can now mount images in public cloud providers such as AWS for a variety of use cases.
As you can see, Rubrik is knocking out all of the objections that enterprise customers have had in the past. Good for Rubrik, right?
The point is this though, Rubrik’s got a scale out solution much like Nutanix or other hyper-converged solutions, only for backups. The solution is very simple to manage and takes most of the headaches out of a backup administrator’s life. It’s also starting to inch into cloud to do even more interesting things. In my opinion, Rubrik is reducing many of the pain points that administrators have faced in the past, and is now getting to the point where they can also provide the enterprise features that customers demand. This is a powerful combination that may very well lead to Rubrik being the top dog in the backup vertical.
I’m excited to see how this pans out, but not quite ready to say I’m excited about backups.