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Exclusive Interview With Bipul Sinha, CEO, Rubrik

7X customer base in 2016, wants to be public.
By Philippe Nicolas on 2017.03.13

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Who is Bipul Sinha?

He is:

  • CEO and co-founder, Rubrik, Inc.
  • Advisor at ThoughtSpot, YugaByte and Appboy

He was:

  • Venture Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
  • Founding investor and board member at Nutanix, Numerify and PernixData
  • Investor and board member, Peel
  • Founding venture investor at HootSuite and Pulse News
  • Seed investor and board member, LiveProfile
  • Principal at Blumberg Capital
  • Technology investment banking, Bank of America Securities
  • Director, database and middleware products, Oracle
  • Software/sales engineer, American Megatrends
  • Software engineer, IBM

StorageNewsletter: Rubrik is a growing company, could you summarize the genesis and background of the company? Year founded? Number of employees today?
Bipul Sinha: My co-founders and I started Rubrik in January 2014. We came from companies like Google, Facebook and Oracle. We recognized an opportunity to bring simple, cloud-integrated infrastructure to the corporate IT market, much like Google or Facebook builds their infrastructure. We currently have 250+ employees worldwide.

You founded Rubrik, who are the other people behind the company? What are the products, service or storage technologies already developed by the team before Rubrik?
My co-founders include Arvind Nithrakashyap (Nitro), CTO; Arvind Jain (AJ), VP of engineering; and Soham Mazumdar, chief architect.  

Nitro was previously at Oracle with me, where he was a co-founder of the Exadata scale-out storage platform which is now the default storage behind Oracle Database machines. Later he went on to RocketFuel where he developed the infrastructure for their real-time trading platform. 

AJ was previously at Google where he was a distinguished engineer. He led the infrastructure teams for YouTube, Google Search, as well as Google Fiber.

Soham was most recently at Facebook through the acquisition of his prior company, TagTile. He was also previously at Google, where he led Teragoogle project, a complete re-architecture of Google Search infrastructure, for which he won the Google Founders’ award.

How is the company capitalized? VC money, others? And are you looking for additional VC round?
We are well capitalized with $112 million in venture capital from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greylock Partners and Khosla Ventures. We don’t need to raise additional capital before an IPO, but we won’t dismiss that possibility if the conditions are right to invest in growth even more aggressively.

What is the company vision?
We want to be the platform that enables our customers to recover, manage and secure their data across clouds, anytime, anywhere. We intend to build a large, sustainable, purpose-driven public company to achieve that vision.

What are the challenges you wish to solve?
In the immediate term, we see a huge opportunity to bring innovation to the data protection market, to make backup and recovery simpler, to enable cloud for data protection and to open up access to data for other use cases like test/dev.

We see the manageability and availability of data into the cloud as a major problem. While applications can be instantiated in the cloud, the ability to easily bring your data there with the appropriate framework for access and management, is missing.

What are the target market segments?
One of the surprising things for outsiders is how rapidly Rubrik has managed to penetrate large enterprise across all industry sectors, including government. At this point, we have dozens of Fortune 500 and government customers. The need for simpler, more scalable, cloud-integrated backup and recovery solutions is universal; we don’t find ourselves selling into a narrow use case or industry. 

What are the typical use cases?

  • Backup and recovery of virtual and physical environments;
  • Disaster recovery;
  • Analytics and reporting;
  • Test/dev;
  • Automation and orchestration; and
  • Managed service provider.

We hear a lot of things about software-defined storage. What is your definition of SDS? Do you consider Rubrik as a SDS player?
A common definition of SDS is a software layer that virtualizes and tiers storage resources based upon desired time, performance and cost characteristics. It is typically deployed with storage. 

Rubrik isn't a storage solution. We have data management software that manages and makes data available for applications whenever and wherever it is required. Thus we manage your data whether it resides on data center infrastructure, object storage, or the cloud.

Could you elaborate on some of your technologies?
One of our core technologies is our proprietary scale-out file system, Atlas. This file system provides infinite scale and resiliency across a global cluster on-prem or in the cloud. Atlas leverages erasure coding, first in the industry, to provide best in class storage efficiency. Our data management platform delivers global de-duplication across all nodes of Rubrik cluster and provides a single system view for test/dev, analytics and reporting.

Another key technology is our RESTful API framework, which allows for fully-functional and easy to deploy workflows. The availability of our RESTful APIs have enabled customers and partners to rapidly deploy additional use cases, integration with other management tools, and even new businesses with Rubrik.

Are you running bare-metal or also within Hypervisors?
We can do both. We recently announced a software only version of Rubrik for remote-office use cases that runs on vSphere.

You currently leverage VMware Data Protection API, any other plans? What about physical servers?
In August 2016, we announced our 3.0 release which included: physical SQL, physical Linux, physical NAS, Rubrik Edge for ROBO, Azure and erasure coding, among other things. 

In February 2017, we announced 3.1 which added physical Windows, Rubrik Envision analytics & reporting, and software-based encryption.

Could we consider your product as a gateway as well? Or a data management orchestrator?
The later. We have a data management platform.

What about geo topology?
Rubrik is currently deployed in numerous large scale production environments by our customers in globally distributed topologies. We provide a simple management experience for ROBO, replication and/or archive across geo topologies. 

Storage back-end is fully agnostic for you, right? So what kind of interfaces you need to support a back-end storage device?
We have the built-in capability to archive into and search on AWS, Azure, S3 compatible storage, NAS, object storage (Cloudian, Cleversafe, etc.).

What are the interfaces exposed by your product? Any plan to add others?
We have a fully-functional RESTful API framework which many customers and partners are using. We see no value in exposing Rubrik appliances as storage target, if that’s what you are asking. That is a low value-add, commodity use case.

What is the typical minimal configuration?
A single appliance has four nodes. While this is the minimal configuration, our typical customer purchases two or more appliances for a fully replicated solution. 

What kind of patents do you have?
We have numerous patents pending on everything from core architecture to data management, search and UI design.

What about competition?
We have a lot of respect for companies like Dell EMC, Veritas and Commvault. They are the big incumbents with plenty of resources and customers. However, we offer an extremely attractive alternative to the solutions the incumbents have been marketing for the better part of a decade. With Rubrik, our customers spend less time managing backup and recovery, achieve better performance, and get better ROI. Because we were designed natively for cloud, we are inherently better suited to address the requirements for a cloud future. 

What is your link with open source?
We believe in purpose-built technologies that solve a particular problem in a unique way. For example we built Atlas, out infinitely scalable file system, grounds up to provide the best in class storage efficiency and resiliency. With an engineering heritage from Facebook and Google, we are supporters of the open dource community and plan to contribute to it.

What makes Rubrik unique?
Our people and culture make Rubrik unique. From the beginning, this team has been able to achieve great things at an unprecedented velocity. We’ve had seven major product releases and have bookings approaching $100 million, all in the span of three years. 

What allows us to do these things is hiring and retaining the high quality people, who embody our company values - RIVET. Relentless, Integrity, Velocity, Excellence, and Transparency. With the right culture and people, you can do almost anything.

What is your distribution model?
We are focused on addressing the enterprise customer. We're a 100% reseller business model, and we work with channel partners across the world in our sales efforts. To date, everything we have sold has been initiated or fulfilled through channel partners. This model has worked very well and our average sales cycle is just around 90 days.

For post sales, we have also built a highly rated customer support team distributed across regions, with proactive and reactive capabilities that ensure our customers are successful.

How do you sell? Direct, channel, OEM? What are the partnerships you develop?
We sell 100% through the channel. We do not sell direct. We develop partnerships with other OEMs in our customers’ ecosystems, with whom we do joint sales, marketing and technical development.

How many customers do you have?
As a private company, we don't release specific figures on customers, but our customer count is in the 'triple digits' and we grew that number by 7X in 2016. Some publicly reference-able customers include: JLL, The Tampa Bay Rays, Worldvision, and Willis Towers Watson.

What is the total capacity you operate? How many sites?
Our customers have deployed three digits petabytes across hundreds of sites.

Your revenue range?
As of the end of FY2017 (ending January 31, 2017), we had bookings approaching $100 million in annualized run rate.

How is the product priced and licensed?
Our core products are sold in an integrated software-appliance form factor, as well as a software-only form factor for a ROBO or cloud instantiation. The core Rubrik software is licensed on a perpetual basis, with annual maintenance. 

What about the international presence?
We have sales teams in over 25 countries spanning North America, EMEA and APJ. We also have a follow-the-sun support capability with staff located in the US and abroad. 

What are the priorities for 2017?
For 2017, our goal is to build upon the momentum we had in 2016 penetrating the enterprise market, and fulfilling our vision of cloud data management. To that end, we'll be expanding our go-to-market teams worldwide, as well as continuing to deliver new product releases to address the growing enterprise opportunity.

Read also:
Start-Up Profile: Rubrik
With first scale-out storage platform for backup
by Jean-Jacques Maleval | 2015.04.08 | News | [with our comments]

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