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CEO Sinha talks Rubrik Cloud Data Management, converged protection

Rubrik CEO Bipul Sinha says cloud and virtualization were key pieces of his company's converged data protection platform from the start, but customers also want physical protection.

Now that hyper-converged is maturing into a mainstream technology for primary storage, we're seeing products designed to converge the data protection stack, as well.

The two most prominent vendors in the converged secondary data field are startups with roots from hyper-converged pioneer Nutanix. Rubrik CEO and founder Bipul Sinha was an early Nutanix investor and board member, and Cohesity founder and CEO Mohit Aron was a Nutanix founder and served as its CTO through 2013.

We spoke with Rubrik's Sinha about the emerging converged data protection market, what's next for Rubrik Cloud Data Management and why having cloud capability from the start is crucial.

You call your product Rubrik Cloud Data Management. What role does the cloud play in your product? And how is Rubrik different from all the other vendors supporting public and private clouds?

Bipul Sinha, CEO, RubrikBipul Sinha

Sinha: We had the cloud in there since Day 1 of our product, and it's now over 2 years old. Other vendors talk about cloud, but they actually buy third-party products or try to overlay the cloud onto their legacy infrastructure. Rubrik built the cloud natively in our platform. We allow customers to search for data residing in the cloud. Our Google-like predictive search in the public cloud is differentiated.

Pushing data into the cloud is free, keeping data on the cloud is cheap, but pulling data back from the cloud is expensive. We allow customers to push a block of ice into the cloud and pull a cube of ice back from the cloud. That allows them to gain the true economic potential of cloud. The cloud is a deal-winner for us.

Which public clouds do you support?

Sinha: We support Amazon and Microsoft. We're looking to enable other clouds. We are seeing that not all clouds have same security capabilities. Security is very important to us because we have enterprise customers; it's important for them to have data be secured.

Are most of your customers using the cloud for some data?

Sinha: I would say more than 40% of our customers use some form of cloud, with more than 30% in the public cloud.

What are your customers using the cloud for?

Sinha: Archive and backup. It depends on their operating data needs and their time-to-recovery needs. Many customers have 30 days of data on premises, and the rest of the data is on the cloud. Some keep more data on premises. It depends on the industry and the company's philosophy for data management.

Data is the critical application. The ability to do orchestration, set policies, do automation and search on top of that data in the cloud drives them to adopt new platforms. Rubrik enables 30 days of data on prem[ises], and they can put the next five years' worth of data on the cloud, rather than in the data center. We are agnostic whether they want to build a public cloud or use private cloud.

Since you launched in 2015, what advancements have you made to the Rubrik Cloud Data Management platform?

Sinha: We've had several major product releases. We've extended our capabilities into physical systems. We support physical Linux, physical Windows, physical SQL Server [and] physical NAS, in addition to the core VMware capabilities we had at the start. We also added Rubrik Envision to deliver on-demand reporting and analytics on Rubrik.

We allow customers to generate analytics by choosing data metrics and combining them whatever way they want. They can then pick the charts and graphs they want. These are real-time-generated reports. It's like building business intelligence right in the Rubrik platform. We believe it will set a new standard in terms of analytics and reporting for secondary data management.

We also released end-to-end encryption. We had hardware FIPS [Federal Information Processing Standard] encryption, but customers wanted software-based encryption. Now, we encrypt data in rest and in motion to public and private clouds.

Was support for physical servers in your plans when you launched Rubrik Cloud Data Management?

Sinha: We always had plans for it, but our customers help us prioritize which physical systems to support first. We started with SQL and physical Linux, and quickly followed with physical Windows and physical NAS.

Were you surprised by requests for physical support so early on?

Sinha: We're selling into large enterprises. Unlike small and midsize businesses, big enterprises have all kinds of flavors of applications: physical, virtual and everything. They want to standardize on a single platform. We started to see demand for physical early on, so we decided to prioritize those features.

What hypervisors do you support?

Sinha: Today, we support VMware, but [Microsoft] Hyper-V is coming soon. We will also support other platforms, such as Acropolis from Nutanix.

We allow customers to push a block of ice into the cloud and pull a cube of ice back from the cloud.
Bipul SinhaCEO, Rubrik

Do you have a lot of customers using hyper-converged primary systems?

Sinha: We do have some, but the vast majority of our customers are the traditional three-tier architecture on [the] primary side.

Do you plan to move into primary storage eventually?

Sinha: Data management is our goal. We're not touching primary storage or compute.

Any product upgrades coming in 2017?

Sinha: For sure. We're on a very fast product release cycle -- every four or five months. Late this year, we will go on [the] offensive for new things the industry has not seen. Our Rubrik Envision business analytics platform will evolve into a truly data management platform. We'll also add platform support, data services and make more third-party integrations with technology partners.

Like other data protection vendors, you are calling your product a data management platform. What do you see as the difference between data protection and data management?

Sinha: Data management is a core industry trend. When we started, we had this vision about how to modernize data management with our cloud capabilities and reporting. We're pushing the envelope in terms of data management, as opposed to building infrastructure systems. I believe that with [the] advent and growth of public cloud, infrastructure will continue to lose significance. The trend will continue where data becomes more of a strategic asset that enterprises like to get value from. This is the central tenant of Rubrik. We are going to define what it means to have a data management platform.

How important is copy data management to your product?

Sinha: Copy data management is a driver, but people don't want to have one system for copy data management and a separate system for backup, and another system for analytics. They want to combine everything into a single platform, but that's not a storage platform. People want software data services: search, analytics, orchestration, compliance and governance. That is where the market is. That is where we are fundamentally different.

Who do you compete with most?

Sinha: Our biggest competitors are Dell EMC and Veritas, and Commvault to some extent. These are the top three. All of their products were built before cloud was in the picture.

Would you say Veritas' NetBackup appliance is the closest of those platforms to Rubrik?

Sinha: Veritas put NetBackup in an appliance. But our product scales out with native cloud capabilities.

What do your customers replace when they install Rubrik?

Sinha: We don't sell a backup target; we only sell an integrated system that replaces backup software, the media server and the storage target in one fell swoop. That is the vison of Rubrik: a single platform for backup, recovery, archive and DR [disaster recovery] across private and public clouds.

How did you do last quarter?

Sinha: We're approaching a $100 million run rate in six quarters [of] selling. We have about two dozen Fortune 500 companies as customers. And these customers have spent millions of dollars with us. About 25% of our customers repeat purchases within six months, and the repeat purchase is much bigger than the initial purchase. Our average deal size is about $250,000, and each repeat purchase is bigger than that.

How many employees does Rubrik have now?

Sinha: We've grown in terms of employees from 25 two years ago to over 300 today. We're adding 50 to 70 people a quarter. By the end of this year, we'll be between 500 to 600 people.

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