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Rubrik acquires Igneous Systems' unstructured data tech

Rubrik found Igneous Systems' large-scale unstructured data management capabilities to be complementary to its own and plans to fold it into the Rubrik platform.

Rubrik acquired unstructured data management startup Igneous Systems and plans to integrate its tech into the Rubrik platform.

Rubrik revealed it had acquired "key technology and IP assets" from Igneous Thursday in a blog. However, Rubrik provided few details of the purchase beyond that when SearchDataBackup reached out. A Rubrik executive said the planned level of integration between Rubrik and Igneous' products, whether the Igneous branding would stay and what happens to Igneous CEO Dean Darwin and the rest of Igneous' leadership team were all "to be determined." Rubrik also didn't disclose Igneous' financial standing leading up to the purchase and the price it paid for the startup.

Igneous Systems provides unstructured data management as a service. Its DataDiscover, DataProtect and DataFlow products enabled data indexing, protection and migration. Igneous' market differentiator was its ability to provide these capabilities at massive scale, able to quickly scan petabytes worth of NAS files and perform its data management functions on them. Other cloud-based third-party vendors such as Druva, Clumio and Commvault's Metallic offering lack Igneous' large-scale unstructured data management component.

Vasu Murthy, Rubrik's vice president of products, said the scale at which Igneous technology operates is what made it an enticing purchase for Rubrik. Rubrik already has petabyte-scale customers, and its technology can accommodate them. Similarly, Rubrik's Polaris Sonar product can provide data classification and search. Murthy said customers' unstructured data stores continue to grow, and Rubrik had been investigating means to scale further. Igneous' technology is "complementary" to Rubrik's and would allow Rubrik to achieve that scale.

"This is a key piece of technology we're happy to have," Murthy said.

Although he wouldn't go into detail, Murthy said Rubrik is keeping most of Igneous' staff. In addition, Rubrik has reached out to all of Igneous' current customers and assured them it will not interrupt any integration plans they are working on.

Igneous founder Kiran Bhageshpur stepped down as CEO in June 2020 and was replaced by Dean Darwin. In an interview at that time, Darwin said Igneous' main weak point was its marketing. He described Igneous as a company with a good product backed by good technology, but it wasn't loud enough in the market. Although he said he was looking for "a more substantial partnership" for his go-to-market strategy, Darwin didn't indicate that selling Igneous was part of that strategy.

Krista Macomber, senior analyst at Evaluator Group, said Igneous is a good purchase for Rubrik because customers with petabytes of critical unstructured data are increasingly common. Businesses can have vast stores of medical images, research data in proprietary formats, social media information and surveillance footage that they rely on to run, and all this data needs to be properly managed and protected. Traditional NAS data protection isn't designed to handle such large volumes of unstructured data, but Igneous' unique capability to handle billions of files will improve Rubrik's ability to scale into these multi-petabyte environments.

"Igneous specifically focuses on unstructured data, which is growing exponentially fast and has become business-critical," Macomber said.

Igneous also helps Rubrik push further into data visibility for business intelligence, compliance and security use cases, Macomber said. It would expand upon what Polaris Sonar is already doing, allowing customers to search and identify files at a massive scale.

Macomber added that she wasn't surprised by the acquisition. Although she didn't get any indication that Darwin was shopping for a buyer or that Rubrik was interested in Igneous' technology, she said Igneous has had a rocky year with a CEO change in June and layoffs in November.

Apparently, Igneous wasn't fit enough to survive under Darwin.

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