Backup as a platform busts a move in multicloud, ransomware and GDPR

It looks like data-backup technology has been holding out on us. The historically siloed, unsexy wallflower in the data center has moves; it just needs space and a few apt partners to show them off.

Startups and legacies alike are expanding backup software into integrated platforms featuring cross-cloud compatibility, machine learning, and application program interfaces. Now, data management, General Data Protection Regulation compliance, ransomware detection, and more suddenly fit within its scope.

Rubrik Inc. began life with a mission to revolutionize the way backup is done. It also saw the extracurricular potential of backup data. It wanted to leverage it in novel ways, to spin it out into additional, high-value services.

We’re starting to see actual execution [of] that … exposing more and more value out of that data — and it’s really connecting [with customers],” said Shay Mowlem (pictured, left), senior vice president of product and strategy at Rubrik.

The successful startup realized how backup could weave into data governance, disaster recovery, and data protection. “These are areas that have generally been addressed through sort of separate, siloed approaches, and we see a lot of synergy with backup recovery and brought it all together,” Mowlem said. 

When these technologies are able to connect and ping off of each other, whole new use cases become possible. They include intelligent threat detection and streamlined data classification as a byproduct of backup. These are some of the services built into Rubrik’s latest Andes 5.1 integrated backup platform.

Mowlem and Chris Wahl (pictured, right), chief technologist at Rubrik, spoke with Dave Vellante (@dvellante) and John Furrier (@furrier), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the VMworld event in San Francisco. They discussed the expansion of backup and the fresh use cases in Rubrik’s latest platform release (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.) 

This week, theCUBE spotlights Rubrik in our Startup of the Week feature.

Backup moves forward into multicloud

The global data backup and recovery market was worth $6.98 billion in 2017 and will reach $18.21 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 11.24%, according to Stratistics MRC. Growing data, increasing need for data security, privacy concerns, and adoption of cloud data backup solutions are factors driving growth.

The broader category of storage itself has shifted since cloud data management became an area of keen focus, according to Wahl. In the past, the storage “food group” was isolated; things went into it; things came out of it, but it wasn’t really integrated into the overall IT architecture. With cloud, and particularly hybrid cloud and multicloud, it became clear that siloed storage would not carry the enterprise forward. Data is now mobile; it has to travel; it has to be in more than one place at once; it has to be available for real-time applications, etc.

The same is true of backup, data protection, and disaster recovery. They can’t be stuck; they have to work across all the different environments in distributed IT. Today’s customers increasingly want to match different workloads and services to the best possible cloud.

Unfortunately, this bouncing around clouds can create chaos and uncertainty. The situation is reminiscent of virtualization’s old “zombie virtual machine” problem, Wahl pointed out. Security issues abound in busy multicloud environments: User security, cyberhacks and ransomware, to name a few.

“It’s a pretty terrifying world, and I think this is that moment where we take a look back and say: ‘Well is it highly available? Is it secure? How do I know that? How am I able to recover from availability, or even external threat issues?'” Wahl said. 

Rubrik wants to be the data-management platform across the entire multicloud environment. A ubiquitous policy engine with governance rules around protecting assets gives its customers cross-cloud freedom. They can broadly leverage best-in class-services in different clouds, according to Mowlem.

What’s really important is that solutions such as data protection don’t limit your ability to capitalize on that,” Mowlem said. 

Integrations, ML juice new backup use cases

Tying backup, DR, and data management together with other technologies and processes can cut legwork out of certain tasks. Rubrik is demonstrating this with the services in its Andes 5.1 release. For example, GDPR and other privacy laws are pressuring companies to govern their data more thoroughly.

Greg Hughes, chief executive officer of Veritas Technologies LLC, recently spoke to theCUBE about the specter of poorly governed data. For example, one Australian Veritas customer told Hughes she deals with 27 different regulatory environments. “Another customer was saying that the California Privacy Act will be the death of him — and he’s based in St. Louis,” Hughes said.

Many companies’ storage infrastructure is so complicated, they can’t figure out anything about their data. “Boards are saying — because of the ransomware threat — is all of our data protected? Is it backed up? Are all our applications backed up and protected? And customers could not answer that question,” Hughes said.

Companies may now have to find personally identifiable information in their backup archives. This is turning out to be a very hard problem for them to solve. “Generally, the backup data has been somewhat of a black box. The only way to check it is to do sort of a spot audit check. It’s labor intensive and hard,” Mowlem said. 

Rubrik makes classifying backup data much simpler, according to Mowlem. Andes 5.1 Polaris Sonar is a software as a service tool that uses machine learning to discover, classify and report on sensitive data in the IT environment. It combines data governance and backup in one streamlined process.

“[Governance] sort of naturally fits there in some ways, because, I’m backing it up — why not process that data to discover? It sends that information and classifies it. I think that’s solving a major point,” Mowlem said. 

Rubrik also applies machine learning to threat scanning for ransomware. Radar, its ransomware-recovery product, leverages machine learning to detect pattern changes in the data. “Ransomware checks generally involve people coming in, updating, deleting, encrypting your data. We look at the changing profile of the data and alert anomalous behavior, and then recover it back to the last stable state,” Mowlew stated. 

API ecosystem

Rubrik’s vision of backup as an integrated, multipurpose platform has resonated with customers and investors. Last January, it raised $261 million, which helped it to reach a $3.3 billion total valuation. Included in the funding round were Bain Capital Ventures LLC, Greylock Partners, and others.

The company continues working to help backup and cloud data management be all they can be. It makes its APIs available through Rubrik Build, an open-source community. Contributors can create new applications, automation tooling, and integrations, as well as consume or enhance existing projects for monitoring, testing, development, and automated workflows.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the VMworld event. (* Disclosure: Rubrik Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Rubrik nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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