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How does Rubrik's cloud time machine work?

While Rubrik's cloud time machine may not offer new capabilities, the company's distributed file system provides a new way to handle versioned data.

The term cloud time machine is basically marketing speak that describes how the software provides versioned instant recovery capabilities, which are nothing new. Many leading backup vendors provide instant recovery capabilities that allow virtual machines (VMs) to be mounted and run from backup storage while a restoration option takes place in the background. This allows organizations to bring a nearly current backup copy of a VM online or to revert to a VM as it existed at an earlier point in time.

Beyond the cloud time machine, what seems to make Rubrik somewhat unique is the way it handles data. The startup has created its own distributed file system to store and manage versioned data. This file system is exposed as a scale-out Network File System server and has been specifically designed to take advantage of a hybrid flash/disk architecture to maximize I/O throughput. The file system is designed for resilience to node or disk failure.

According to the vendor's website:

"Rubrik builds a [cloud] time machine of all the enterprise's data. Versioned data management is a core feature of our file system. The time machine is a very powerful abstraction. It allows Rubrik to serve as a backup system for the enterprise; moreover, since all versions of the data are instantly available for reads and writes, it allows all enterprise applications to run directly on our system. There is no need to provision additional storage systems for applications that need to access this data."

Rubrik's versioned file system is treated as a golden image that allows VMs to be mounted for recovery or development/test purposes. Rubrik is able to use block mapping to connect the newly mounted VM to the appropriate storage blocks, even if those blocks were from an earlier point in time. The VM can then be used without requiring the blocks to be copied.

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