Changing the backup game

Martin Brown can distinctly remember the first time he became aware of Rubrik. In his director role at Dell EMC, Brown found himself in the unenviable position of having lost two important clients in quick succession.

“I wasn’t completely sure who Rubrik were, so I asked one of my team to do a bit of background research because I wanted to know more about the company that had just taken a couple of important customers,” Brown recalls, speaking to Digital Bulletin. “When I got the report back the thing that really came through was just how brilliant the technology was.”

In a twist of fate, a message from a senior figure at Rubrik followed, asking Brown if he’d be interested in joining – a pure coincidence in terms of timing, he insists. The proposition was originally rebuffed, but Rubrik came back again with a compelling offer and clear vision for the company which proved too good to turn down for a second time.

Two years on, Brown holds the position of Regional VP, UKI, Middle East & Africa at Rubrik, which, just six years since its inception, is making quite the name for itself in the cloud data management and enterprise backup space.

Rubrik’s mission is to enable enterprises to maximise value from data that is increasingly fragmented across data centres and clouds. To do so, Rubrik delivers a single, policy-driven platform for data recovery, governance, compliance, and cloud mobility.

Brown (pictured) refers back to the research report – the author of which has since joined him at Rubrik, incidentally – when he explains how the company has managed to develop such a prominent position in its chosen market sector in what is a relatively miniscule amount of time.

“The report that was produced was so clear about the simplicity of the automation that the platform offers. The backup market hasn’t really changed in 20 years and it’s a pretty complex architecture of various products and vendors, that require very highly skilled people. IT departments aren’t keen on working in the area, because it doesn’t always work particularly well,” Brown reveals.

“What we’ve done is delivered everything in an automated fashion in a service-level agreement, so clients choose what you want with a certain application when it comes to backup. It takes out all that complexity and scheduling of jobs and capacity management that previously had to be done manually by people. It’s all delivered by the software.”

Brown says that businesses are reaping the benefits, saving time, money and resources. He references a customer in the Middle East market that he says has been able to instruct an IT graduate to oversee the smooth running of its data protection service that sits on the Rubrik platform, such is its simplicity.

Over the last six to nine months, Rubrik has also found success in the security sector, capping off 2019 with the Best Data Security and Data Protection award at VMworld 2019. The award was in recognition of the innovative automation, increased efficiency, and significant business value achieved by customer LKAB – the Swedish State Mining Company – using Rubrik Edge, a software appliance built for extending data protection and management to virtualised and remote back office environments.

“LKAB has an in-house delivered application that tracks all specs of the mining production line, but if that fails, it is looking at a shutdown of 24-48 hours, which is really costly. It can cost upwards of $1 million just to shut down for one night,” says Brown.

“What we have enabled LKAB to do is automate and simplify all of its data security and protection systems and given it the ability to restore really quickly, which has resulted in 90%+ management time savings, 90% faster resource so they can react more quickly, and 90% quicker ticket resolution as well.

“We’ve also given them the ability to protect their data with a software product as an enabler to use for the existing hardware they have in all their remote offices. So, they can bring their data back to their core data centres. Thirdly, we’ve given them the ability to utilise Azure, and make it really easy for them to move to the cloud and enjoy the benefits of having the data in the cloud environment.”

Brown says that the capability of Rubrik’s modern software can prove the difference of millions of dollars when it comes to restoring data in the event of a ransomware or phishing attack – a scenario that all areas of enterprise are having to mitigate against.

This is due to the immutable nature of Rubrik’s software, whereas more traditional infrastructure, often hosted in Windows file systems, are more vulnerable if they end up in the wrong hands.

The reason organisations are working with us is that we have revolutionised how companies are working with data protection

“When you think of some of the big ransomware attacks, the big cost is the mediation, so finding out what the bad guys did. If you don’t know what has been done you have to lock up all your data, which is a huge cost,” he says.

“What we’ve been able to do is track where the bad guys have been, so it will know if they only got to 11% of the data, for example, so you know the remainder is fine. We can help restore back to the last version of the 11% and help companies remediate really quickly.

“In that scenario, you could be looking at the difference between a cost to the enterprise of $100 million and $10 million. I think it was ASL Airlines which said ransomware becomes a minor inconvenience when there is an ability to instantly restore and then understand what has been done.”

A key component to the Rubrik offering is helping companies make sense of their vast datasets, something that many organisations are struggling to make sense of as the quantities of data multiply at a rapid rate. Those companies that are able to effectively manage and analyse their data will more than likely leave their competitors behind.

But, says Brown, while the parameters and scales have shifted, the concept is not a new one.

“Companies have been analysing data for a really long time, big data is not something that is really new, think about the success Tesco had in the 1990s with the Clubcard, that was all from data it had on its customers,” he comments.

“But the process of collecting data from different places, putting it into a specific format and analysing those sets is really time consuming, complex and expensive. What we are building here is almost like a meta datalake, which allows customers to drive value.

“We have brought our SaaS and other applications that deliver value, but what we’ll also be doing is opening up our API to other software vendors to create software to deliver value from that data.

“Customers don’t need to move the data as it is there already, it is in a format that it is easy to get access to and it is not in production. We are developing an application for continuous data protection, it is almost live data, it is not sitting on any production platform, so you can do all sorts of things with it.

Brown cites The Economist as saying that data is the world’s most valuable resource but it is only valuable if you can do things with it – “We are that enabler for our customers,” he says.

It is a customer base that is spread across practically every business vertical and includes the likes of Cisco, Experian, Facebook, Towers Watson and Schroders, an impressive roster for a company established in 2014. But there will be no resting on laurels.

“We’ve had unprecedented growth, but it hasn’t been easy and we’re competing with companies that have established technologies and long-term relationships. The reason organisations are working with us is that we have revolutionised how companies are working with data protection,” he concludes.

“All of our releases are driven by demand from customers and that is how we develop. I think that innovation is unrivaled in the backup market, but we think it is really required because the demand is there.”

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