A New Standard for Backups – Rubrik

A New Standard for Backups – Rubrik

June 29, 2015 8 By Eric Shanks

downloadIt’s pretty weird to get excited about backups, but I’ve found myself thinking how cool the new technology that Rubrik‘s designing.  If you haven’t heard of these guys yet, you will. They presented at Virtualization Field Day 5 in Boston and had some new announcements that will blow your socks right off your feet.

All travel expenses and incidentals were paid for by Gestalt IT to attend Virtualization Field Day 5. This was the only compensation given and did not influence the content of this article.

The first of these announcements really had nothing to do with technology, but rather with people. Rubrik announced to the world that my good friend Chris Wahl was joining their team as Technical Evangelist. Thats a pretty big “get” for Rubrik, signing a top 10 Virtualization blogger and two times over VCDX to their team. I think it also lends some credence to their legitimacy, as I don’t suspect Mr. Wahl would have joined a team that didn’t already have something going for it.

Why is Rubrik Cool?

The Rubrik CEO Bipul Sinha explained to us that the main objective of Rubrik was to make backups useful and easy to manage. His example was using Apple’s Time Machine technology. How come my laptop backup is so easy to manage, but a corporate server backup is so difficult. Obviously servers are backed up more often with more stringent SLA etc, but his point was well received. It should be easy to do because no one wants to spend their time managing backups.

Rubrik’s model uses a hardware appliance with a scale out architecture similar to Nutanix. (This shouldn’t be a coincidence since Bipul is a founding investor in Nutanix) Rubrik’s appliance is sold as a brick (chassis) with 4 nodes (servers) in it. Once the appliance is racked, cabled and IP’d the next step is to connect it to your vCenter server(s). The Rubrik software scans the vCenter for a list of virtual machines and from there, you can select VMs to backup to the Rubrik appliance. Rubrik’s team is touting this process that only takes 15 minutes to get up and running. If you’d like to see more info on this, check out this post from Brian Suhr.

Note: right now this is a 1.0 product and only supports VMware, but the roadmap is to support Hyper-V and Physical machines as well. It is not meant to be only for VMware environments for ever.

Backup Process

The process of backing up virtual machines to the Rubrik device consists of selecting a virtual machine and selecting a SLA. There are some default SLAs that come with the appliance but the backup admin is allowed to create as many as he/she needs in order to meet the organizations retention periods and backup windows.

Once the backups start, the virtual machine is snapshotted and the bits are shipped over to the Rubrik appliance where they are inline deduplicated and stored on flash temporarily. Depending on the SLA, these backups will be stored on disk as well as possibly shipped off to an S3 storage endpoint, most likely Amazon S3. This is neat right? How many times have you heard corporations state that they want to keep all data for seven years right up until they hear how much storage they are going to need to buy to accomplish that? Now Rubrik can keep the most recently backed up information locally on disk but ship off some of the bits to a cloud storage device.


Recovery Process

OK, the backup process is pretty slick. Pick a VM and a policy and let Rubrik do its thing. But everyone knows that the backup is only as good as the recovery process. Rubrik’s recovery model is great! From the Rubrik HTML5 web portal, pick the VM and a backup date to restore, or for a single file restore pick the vm, the file and the file date to restore. Simple process and the search process is VERY fast. This is because all of the backup metadata is stored on the Rubrik flash drives for quick recalls.

Now that we’ve found the files, we can perform either a recovery or an instant mount. The recovery process will power down the existing virtual machine and recover the backup in its place. Nothing new there, but if we need a recovery to take place faster, we can mount the backup directly on the Rubrik flash tier and mount it to vCenter over an NFS mount point.



I don’t know what these appliances are going to cost, but Bipul assured us all that they won’t disappoint. With an easy backup process, simple and fast recovery process, ability to scale out and still keep a single deduplication domain and a fast storage appliance, all I can think of to say is to “shut up and take my money.” We’ll see how this product does on the market , but I have a feeling that this is going to be the new gold standard for backup solutions.