Category: rubrik

A year at Rubrik, moving to marketing; et tu, Brute?

A year at Rubrik, moving to marketing; et tu, Brute?

I wasn’t really planning on writing a post on this initially but since I’m moving to a (technical) marketing role it seemed only fitting on¬†second thought.
Switching from an SE role to technical marketing seems to typically bring about the “I’m moving to the dark side and betraying my technical roots” blog posts so here goes ūüėČ

Actually I think my previous role as an SE for the EMEA region already had quite some tech marketing aspects to it. I traveled to a bunch of countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa spreading the Rubrik gospel, was a speaker at countless events, presented numerous webinars, and very occasionally wrote about some Rubrik related stuff on my personal blog. So when my bosses asked me what I wanted to do next I immediately blurted out “tech evangelism!”.

My role as an EMEA SE mainly revolved around covering the countries where we did not have a local presence yet (did you know EMEA consists of 128 countries? me neither!, but hello frequent flyer status) and I had a blast doing that, but since the company is growing like crazy, i.e. hiring local sales teams everywhere, I naturally started thinking about what could be next as well. I feel extremely lucky, and very humbled, to be joining the amazing Rubrik Tech Marketing team (Chris Wahl, Andrew Miller, Rebecca Fitzhugh) and only hope I can live up to their standard.

…googles “imposter syndrome”…

Andrew Miller already did a great job describing what the tech marketing function is/can be all about here. Or as Matthew Broberg jokingly (but not really though) described it in episode 94 of The Geek Whisperers

It’s this weird unicorn position that seems to fit in the middle of a Venn diagram between sales, marketing, engineering, and some other stuff that we can’t quite put our finger on.

June also marked my 1 year anniversary at Rubrik and with the risk of sounding insincere, it has been an amazing ride so far. The company has more than doubled in size since I joined, seen massive customer adoption, went through multiple successful funding rounds and delivered very significant features release after release.

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To infinity and beyond!

 

Having worked at large incumbent companies before I find it quite amazing what you can achieve if you’re not bogged down by big company inertia and office politics. Sticking with the rocket ship analogy imagine building one at a start-up vs. building one at a big established company.

 

On the left you have the potential result after 6 months of trying to build a rocket ship at a large established company, at the right the potential result at a start-up (oops, time to iterate baby!)

 

After 1 year… you get the idea…

All very tongue-in-cheek of course, both have their merits and drawbacks, in the end it’s about finding where you fit best I think, and I certainly feel I’ve done that.

So in light of the new function, expect me to show up at more events, deliver more content, and be a bit more vocal on social media (but always trying hard to maintain technical integrity).

Rubrik Alta feature spotlight: AWS.

Rubrik Alta feature spotlight: AWS.

With the announcement of Rubrik CDM version 4, codenamed Alta, we have added tons of new features to the platform, but since most of the release announcements are focussed on providing an overview of all the goodies, I wanted to focus more deeply on one specific topic namely our integration with AWS.

Rubrik has had a long history of successfully working with Amazon Web Services,¬†we’ve¬†had integration with Amazon S3 since our first version. In our initial release you could already use¬†Amazon S3 as an archive location for on-premises backups, meaning take local backups of VMware Virtual Machines and then keep them on the local Rubrik cluster for a certain period of time (short term retention) with the option to put longer term retention data into Amazon S3. The idea was to leverage cloud storage economics and resiliency for backup data and at the same time have an active archive for longer term retention data instead of an offline copy on tape. Additionally the way our metadata system works allows us to only retrieve¬†the specific bits of data you need to restore instead of having to pull down the entire VMDK file and incurring egress costs potentially killing the cloud storage economics benefit.

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Also note there is no need to put a gateway device between the Rubrik cluster and Amazon S3, instead Rubrik can natively leverage the S3 APIs.

The ability to archive to Amazon S3 is still here in version 4 of course but now all the supported sources besides VMware ESXi, like Microsoft Hyper-V, Nutanix AHV, Physical Windows/Linux, Native SQL, and so on can also leverage this capability.

Then in Rubrik CDM version 3.2 we added the ability to protect native AWS workloads by having a Rubrik cluster run inside AWS using EC2 for compute and EBS for storage.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.40.43We’ll run a 4 node (protecting your data using Erasure Coding) Rubrik cluster in you preferred AWS location (the Rubrik AMI image is uploaded as a private image).
We use the m4.xlarge instance type, using 64GB RAM, 256GB SSD (GP SSD (GP2)) and 24TB Raw Capacity (Throughput Optimised HDD (ST1)), resulting in 15TB usable capacity before deduplication and compression.

Once the Cloud Cluster is running you can protect your native AWS workloads using the connector based approach, i.e. you can protect Windows and Linux filesets, and Native SQL workloads in the Public Cloud.

Additionally since potentially you can now have a Rubrik cluster on-premises and a Rubrik Cloud Cluster you can replicate from your in-house datacenter to your public cloud environment and vice versa. Or replicate from one AWS region to another.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.46.06

Since the Cloud Cluster has the same capabilities as the on-premises one it can also backup your AWS EC2 workloads and then archive the data to S3, essentially going from EBS storage to S3. (Christopher Nolan really likes this feature).

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Version 4 of Rubrik CDM extends our AWS capabilities by delivering on-demand app mobility, called CloudOn. The idea is that now you can take an application that is running on-premises and move it on the fly to AWS for DR, or Dev/Test, or analytics scenarios.

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The way it will work is that just as since v1 you archive your data to AWS S3, once you decide to instantiate that workload in the public cloud you select “Launch On Cloud” from the Rubrik interface and a¬†temporary Rubrik node (spun up on-demand in AWS in the VPC of your choice) converts those VMs into cloud instances (i.e. going from VMware ESXi to AWS AMI images). Once complete the temporary Rubrik node powers down and is purged.

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Rubrik scans the configuration file of a VM to understand its characteristics (compute, memory, storage, etc.) and recommends a compatible cloud instance type so you are not left guessing what resources you need to consume on AWS.

Alternatively we can also auto-convert the latest snapshot going to S3 so you don’t have to wait for the conversion action.

Data has gravity, meaning that once you accumulate more and more data it starts to make more sense to move the application closer to the data since the other way around starts to become less performant, and more and more cost prohibitive in terms of transport costs. So what if your data sits on-premises but your applications are running in the public cloud? Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 18.06.53
For instance let’s say you want to perform business analytics using Amazon QuickSight but your primary data sources are in your private data center, now you simply archive data to S3 as part of your regular Rubrik SLA (archive data older than x days) and pick the point-in-time dataset you are interested in, use Rubrik to “Launch on Cloud”, and point Amazon QuickSight (or any other AWS service) to your particular data source.

Together these AWS integrations allow you to make use of the public cloud on your terms, in an extremely flexible way.

Atlas distributed filesystem, think outside the box.

Atlas distributed filesystem, think outside the box.

Rubrik recently presented at Tech Field Day 12 and one of the sessions focused on our distributed filesystem called Atlas. As one of the SE’s at Rubrik I’m in the field every day (proudly) representing my company but also competing with other, more traditional backup and recovery vendors. What is apparent more and more is that these traditional vendors are also going down the appliance route to sell their solution into the market, and as such I sometimes get the pushback from potential customers saying they can also get an appliance based offer from their current supplier, or not really immediately grasping why this model can be beneficial to them.
A couple of things I wanted to clarify first, when I say “also down the appliance route” I need make clear that this is purely a way to offer the solution to market for us, there is nothing special about the appliance as such, all of the intelligence in Rubrik’s case lies in the software, we even started to offer a software only version in the form of a virtual appliance for ROBO use cases recently.
Secondly, some traditional vendors can indeed deliver their solution in an appliance based model, be it their own branded one, or pre-packaged via a partnership with a traditional hardware vendor. I’m not saying there is something inherently bad about this, simplifying the acquisition of a backup solution via an appliance based model is great,¬†but there the comparison stops, it will still be a legacy based architecture with disparate software components, typically these software components, think media server, ¬†database server, search server, storage node, etc. need individual¬†love and care, daily babysitting if you will, to keep them going.
Lastly from a component point of view our appliance consists of multiple independent (masterless) nodes that are each capable of running all tasks of the data management solution, in other words there is no need to protect, or indeed worry about, individual software and hardware components as everything is running distributed and able to sustain multiple failures while remaining operational.

nospoon There is no spoon (box)

So the difference lies in the software architecture, not the packaging, as such we need to look beyond the box itself and dive into why starting from a clustered distributed system as a base makes much more sense in todays information era.

The session at TFD12 was presented by Adam Gee and Roland Miller, Adam is the lead of Rubrik’s distributed filesystem called Atlas, it shares some architectural principles with a previous filesystem Adam worked on while he was at Google called Colossus,¬†most items you store while using Google services end up on Colossus, it itself is the successor to the Google File System (GFS) bringing¬†the concept of a masterless cluster to it and making it much more scalable. Not a lot is available¬†on the web in terms of technical details around Colossus, but you can read a high level article on Wired about it here.

Atlas, which sits at the core of the Rubrik architecture, is a distributed filesystem, built from scratch with the Rubrik data management application in mind. It uses all distributed local storage (DAS) resources available on all nodes in the cluster and pools them together into a global namespace. As nodes are added to the cluster the global namespace grows automatically, increasing capacity in the cluster. The local storage resources on each node consist of both SSD and HDD’s, the metadata of Atlas (and the metadata of the data management application) is stored in the metadata store (Callisto) which is also running distributed on all nodes in the SSD layer. The nodes communicate internally using RPC which are presented to Atlas by the cluster management component¬†(Forge) in a topology aware manner thus giving¬†Atlas the capability to provide data locality. This is needed to ensure that data is spread correctly throughout the cluster for redundancy reasons. For example,¬†assuming we are using triple mirror, we need to store data in 3 different nodes in the appliance, let’s now assume the cluster grows beyond 1 appliance, then it would make more sense from a failure domain point of view to move 1 copy of the data from one of the local nodes to the other appliance.

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The system is self healing in the way that Forge publishes the disk and node health status and Atlas can react to that, again assuming triple mirror, if a node or entire brik (appliance) fails Atlas will create a new copy of the data on another node to make sure the requested failure tolerance is met. Additionally Atlas also runs a background task to check the CRC of each chunk of data to ensure what you have written to Rubrik is available in time of recovery. See the article How To Kill A Supercomputer: Dirty Power, Cosmic Rays, and Bad Solder on why that could be important.

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The Atlas filesystem was designed with the data management application in mind, essentially the application takes backups and places them on Atlas, building snapshots chains (Rubrik performs an initial full backup and incremental forever after that). The benefit is that we can instantly materialize any point in time snapshot without the need to re-hydrate data.

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In the example above you have the first full backup at t0, and then 4 incremental backups after that. Let’s assume you want to instantly recover data at point t3, this will simply be a metadata operation, pointers to the last time blocks making up t3 where mutated, there is no data movement involved.

Taking it a step further let’s now assume you want to use t3 as the basis and start writing new data to it from that point on. Any new data that you write to it (redirect-on-write) now goes to a log file, no content from the original snapshot is changed as this needs to be an immutable copy (compliancy). The use case here could be copy data management where you want to present a copy of a dataset to internal dev/test teams.

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Atlas also dynamically provides performance for certain operations in the cluster, for example a backup ingest job will get a higher priority than a background maintenance task. Because each node also has a local SSD drive Atlas can use this to place critical files on a higher performance tier and is also capable of tiering all data and placing hot blocks on SSDs. It also understands that each node has 3 HDDs and will these to stripe the data of a file across all 3 on a single node to take advantage of the aggregate disk bandwidth resulting in a performance improvement on large sequential reads and writes, by utilizing read-ahead and write buffering respectively.

For more information on Atlas you can find the blogpost Adam Gee wrote on it here, or watch the TFD12 recording here.

Data on tape is no longer useful

Data on tape is no longer useful

Data is valuable, I think most people would agree with that, but not all data is treated equally, the key is to enable all your data to remain active, but in the most economical way possible.

Analyst firm IDC is predicting that the amount of data will more than double every two years til 2020 to an astounding 44 trillion gigabytes. Meanwhile data scientists are finding new and interesting ways to activate this enormous amount of information. IDC furthermore states that 86% of business believe all data has value, but at the same time 48% of businesses are not (capable of) storing all available data.

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Organisations have a real need to store all this data, including historical information, especially as that data can now be activated through the means of things like big data analytics. One of the sources of data can be your backups, which is typically not-active, especially when it is stored on tape, even more so when stored on tape and archived off-site.

What we are focusing on at Rubrik is to manage the data through it’s entire lifecycle, independent¬†of it’s location. We do this in a couple of ways, first we backup your primary data and store it on our appliances (we are both the backup software, and the backup target), next, instead of archiving that data of to tape, and essentially rendering it useless (except for slow restores), we can archive/tier it to an object storage system so you can still store it in an economically feasible way.

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When the data is sitting in the archive (on object storage, in the public cloud, or on NFS, depending on your needs) we can still “enable” it. Right now we can instantly search your data independent of the location (and obviously restore¬†it), but also¬†use backup copies of your data to provide them (using what we call Live Mount) to your in-house developers/testers/QA-people, or provide copies to your data scientist that want to run analytics’ jobs against them, all without¬†the need to store these copies on your primary storage system. Compare that to backup copies sitting on tape, in the dark, providing no additional value whatsoever, this way you can still¬†extract value out of your data no matter when you created it.

Backup is Boring!

Backup is Boring!

Yep, until it’s not.

When I was a consultant at a VAR a couple of years ago I implemented my fair share of backup and recovery solutions, products of different vendors which¬†shall remain¬†nameless, but one thing that always became clear was how¬†excruciatingly painful the processes involved ended up being. Convoluted tape rotation schema’s, figuring out back-up windows in environments that were supposed to be operating in a 24/7 capacity, running out of capacity, missed pickups for offsite storage,… the experience¬†consistently sucked.

I think it’s fair to say that there has not been a lot of innovation in this market for the last decade or so, sure¬†vendors put out new versions of their solutions on a regular basis and some new players have entered the market, but the core concepts have largely remained unchanged. How many times do you sit around at lunch with your colleagues and discuss exciting new developments in the data protection space… exactly…

So when is the “until it’s not” moment then?

I’m obviously biased here but I think this market is ripe for disruption, if we¬†take some (or most) of the pain out of the data protection process and make it a straightforward¬†affair I believe we can bring real value to a lot of people.

Rubrik does this by providing¬†a simple, converged data management platform that combines traditionally¬†disparate backup software pieces (backup SW,¬†backup agents, catalog management, backup proxies,…) and globally deduplicated storage in one easily deployable and scalable package.

No more jumping from interface to interface to configure and manage something that essentially should be a insurance policy for you business. (i.e. the focus should be on recovery, not backup). No more pricing and sizing individual pieces based on guesstimates, rather scale out (and in) if and when needed, all options included in the base package.

Because it¬†is optimized for the modern datacenter (i.e. virtualization, scale-out architectures,¬†hybrid cloud environments, flash based optimizations,…) it is possible to consume datamanagement as a service rather than through manual configuration.¬†All interactions with the solution are available via REST APIs and several other consumption options¬†are already making good use of this via community driven initiatives like the PowerShell Module and the VMware vRO plugin. (more info see please see:¬†https://github.com/rubrikinc¬†)

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So essentially giving you the ability to say no to the “we have always done it this way” mantra, it is time to bring (drag?) backup and recovery into¬†the modern age.