In my previous post, I covered off a lot of the hands-on activity at Camp Rubrik: Insiders Edition. That was only one item on the agenda. Rubrik packed a lot into what was really only a few hours of the day. To their credit, we still managed to keep things mostly on time, despite seemingly going over for almost every agenda item.
The entire day was initially meant to be free of NDAs, but that changed. We were fortunate to hear from Bipul Sinha, Co-Founder & CEO, and he gave us a good glimpse of behind the curtain. Unfortunately for anyone not there, his session turned NDA. What I will say is that I was impressed with the openness and willingness to share information. That holds true for throughout the day.
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
Later on, we heard from Kara Wilson, CMO for Rubrik. Rubrik seems to generally have a good standing amongst most IT folks who keep up with things on the social side. This is something that they plan to continue on. We received some insight into the Camp Rubrik program, but we also touched on User Groups. As someone who runs a user group, and who has gained so much from User Groups in general, I took notice. The plan is to roll out a User Group program in the near future and have it focused on customers, not sales. Any User Group worth anything should do what it can to stay away from marketing and sales, so I was glad to hear that. No ETA was given.
FOUNDING ENGINEER PANEL
Next up, we had an hour-long panel Q&A with six founding engineers. Things went deep here, and the amount of knowledge shared was fantastic. What really stood out to me was getting some details on what makes Rubrik tick. For example, the question about underlying hardware came up. I had no idea that there are actually options available to run Rubrik on HPE or Cisco hardware if need be. This really opens the door for some organizations. Maybe you have an agreement in place to only use hardware from HPE or Cisco. Or maybe you need to go really heavy on NVMe or SSD, or whatever. Having what is essentially a “private HCL” can be helpful to getting a brik into a datacentre.
We also started to go into details about Atlas, Rubrik’s Cloud-Scale file system. Some of the more interesting tidbits I took note of revolved around how snapshots are handled. As background, Rubrik calls their restore points “snapshots” (I can feel folks rolling their eyes when they read that). Their filesystem is designed to do things like reducing or eliminate the need to move blocks around when performing a restore. Basically, it comes down to a metadata operation which reduces the time to get VMs back up and running.
THE VALUE IN AN OPEN API
One other really interesting point that we got into was the API. I’ve mentioned in the past how I see the open API being a strong asset. After talking with the developers, I believe in that even more now. We started talking about how granular you can get with some features (i.e. expose the nerd knobs, so to speak). On the one hand, if you want a product to be simple, you want to abstract as much of the underlying mechanics as possible. On the other hand, power users will always want more control. The API can be that gateway to delivering on this. Rubrik has kept their interface nice, clean, and simple, but using the API, all of those nerd knobs are available. As per the conversation, if you don’t know how to do something via the API, then it probably shouldn’t be available in the front-end interface.
If you're not advanced enough to use the API, you aren't advanced enough to turn the nerd knobs we didn't put in the GUI anyway. #CampRubrik
— Howard Marks (@DeepStorageNet) May 17, 2018
This really got me thinking though; the conversation steered toward the intent of releasing future blog posts around the API. From a customer perspective, where I really see value is the ability to potentially release new features or workflows via an API. If I, as a customer, can pull down new scripts that give me increased functionality, without the need to update the underlying operating system … well, that is handy. Combine that with any sort of communal efforts, such as their GitHub project, and you can really start to see some interesting possibilities.
Going into this event, I was familiar with Rubrik as a company. But after reading Keith Townsend‘s excellent blog post “Rubrik – A metadata company in backup company’s clothing“, things really clicked for me. I spent a good chunk of time reflecting on where Rubrik is headed, and I think the biggest jump I made was when I switched from thinking of them as a backup company and instead thought of them as a platform, where backup is but one application. Looking at the possibilities of what can be done with the acquisitions of Datos IO and Polaris, you can start to get a clear idea of where the company is heading.
I’ve been saying for a little while now that I believe in 3-5 years, backup will just be a single checkbox on the feature set that Rubrik offers as a company.
Disclaimer: All of my expenses, including food, transportation, and lodging were covered by Rubrik. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. Anything written above was on my own accord.