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Cloud Field Day 2 Preview: Rubrik

July 21st, 2017

Cloud Field Day 2, part of the Tech Field Day family of events is happening in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, from 26-28 July and I’m super excited to be invited as a delegate.

We are hearing from a number of companies about how they cloud!

What a journey Rubrik has had so far, a 2 year old company that has ambitious plans to redefine that stodge of datacenter technologies, backup. Rubrik recently received a further $180 million in a Series D round at a $1.3 billion valuation. Yes, that’s a more than billion dollar valuation for a company that does backup, wow! Rubrik says it has hardly dipped into its $61 million Series C round but is going for hyper growth. It currently has several hundred enterprises as customers. Interestingly in the Series D funding announcement Rubrik mentioned investing heavily in R&D with this money. They’ve already had 8 product releases with the latest including a number of cloud features so I would think sales and marketing is where the money will need to be spent to increase customers. Hyper growth phase is normally less about R&D and more about knocking on the doors of prospective customers so will be interesting to hear the latest company plans.

All the Data

Of course, backup is no longer just backup but rather the more interesting sounding data management. Rubrik uses the catchy “Don’t Backup. Go Forward”. I’ve written after previous Tech Field Day presentations that data is severely underutilised in enterprises and currently backups, analytics, disaster recovery, compliance, journaling, legal discovery, test/dev etc. are often separate silos creating massive duplication of what is now being called secondary data. This is obviously hugely inefficient yet a tough nut to crack. All the different tools are often purchased to satisfy individual needs, the backup product is separate from the legal discovery tool which is separate from the analytics tool. This doesn’t make it a single sell to replace an old backup solution but requires Rubrik to sell to enterprises a much broader plan for all their data needs and be able to tie together these silos. Rubrik’s vision to do this is “live online access to historical data”.


As this is Cloud Field Day, Rubrik’s recent cloud additions are of interest. Rubrik has always had some cloud connectivity. Being able to use Amazon S3 storage as a direct archive location for on-premises backups has been available since version it started. You could have local recovery for VMs with a short retention time and dip into the S3 archive to pull back something from an older backup. This meant your long term data was still online without you having to go to tape. Rubrik then added the capability to protect native AWS EC2 instances by having a software only Rubrik appliance running itself in EC2 cloud land.

Rubrik has recently added what they call CloudOn which is about app mobility. You can take an on-premises VM and move it to AWS for Test/DR or analytics. To do this, Rubrik spins up a temporary node in your VPC of choice, scans the VM config to suggest what instance size is best and converts the backed up AHV/ESXi/VHD disk into a native AWS AMI and then gets rid of the temp converter node. You can automatically take the latest snapshot sent to S3 and convert it so your AWS EC2 VM copy is ready if you need it. All very useful.

I really love that Rubrik has been bold in bringing backup into more modern times. I’ve worked recently with tools when the backup product’s client Java console takes 5 minutes to just launch before you’ve even gone through the pain of trying to search for something. Every site is its own backup island. Rubrik is all HTML5 goodness in front of an easy to use API. Global search makes life so much easier and global dedupe is the money saver especially when you’re counting your S3 pennies.

SQL Recovery

I gather at Cloud Field Day we’re going to see the SQL instant recovery, would be great to see the use case of how a SQL database can be easily brought back as a primary restore as well as a secondary copy made perhaps in AWS for a developer to use as part of a test app or for analytics, perhaps instantiated as part of a DevOps CD workflow. Can this tie in to some data masking process?

What’s the Plan?

I really like what Rubrik is doing however I have two nagging things that bug me about the latest huge funding evaluation which I’d love to understand. Enterprises are struggling to harmonise secondary storage across their lines of business, linking archival and backup tools is tough, how does Rubrik extend its reach into more use cases?

Rubrik is doing a fantastic job of bringing legacy data management to the modern world, but how do they see the world of more modern apps which don’t use backup in the traditional manor. Containers and Serverless don’t require VM level backups. Containers are just redeployed and managed as infastrucure as code. Native S3 data can be snapshotted and protected using AWS native tools or archived to Glacier. People are moving SQL databases to DynamoDB and Exchange to Office365. When they convert VMware VMs to AWS AMIs it may be only done once as part of a migration and there are other (free) tools to do the same thing. As more workloads are moving to the public cloud, there is a tipping point when it becomes the default option where there is a huge playground to work with true cloudy things that aren’t VMs. Do you then need the same infrastructure management solutions as you currently do?

Rubrik has assembled a steller team. Chris Wahl is Chief Technologist and other than being one of the hardest working and nicest people in tech has an excellent way of delivering the Rubrik message which I’ve heard on various webinars. Ken Hui has recently joined Rubrik. Ken has been very much involved in the public cloud, open source, container world so it is very interesting that he’s joined. Rubrik’s leadership must have some pretty impressive plans and I think we’re probably only at the very beginning of discovering what they are. Happy to hear more about a backup company into which smart investors are throwing their money to take the public cloud world by storm…who would have thought!

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Cloud Field Day but isn’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

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