Two weeks ago I transitioned from a “Field Engineer” role at Rubrik to that of a “Sales Engineer” (sometimes called “Systems Engineer”). I had been double-dipping in the positions for a while, but finally made the cut once we hired two dedicated sales professionals here in the Dallas area. It’s been pleasantly delightful devoting my time now to this sales-centric realm, for two reasons.
It’s been far too long since I’ve posted content of significant substance, but it isn’t for lack of experiences. At a week out from 6 months on the vendor side and start-up life, in particular, I’ve discovered that there’s much more behind the veil than the email correspondence and meetings I saw from the customer side.
Before I started at Rubrik, I naively thought to myself, “How will a bunch of emails and customer meetings & installs fill up 40 hours each week?” Ha! Those are the easy parts, the toppings of a cake that requires a flurry of internal baking and development of all sorts.
Part of what I enjoyed as a customer was being able to influence products and hopefully encourage them to deepen in value and utility. Since customers are “unbiased” and control the revenue flow of vendors, their voice tends to carry farther than industry, competition or internals. I joined Rubrik because I believed in and had proven out the product, and I truly hoped I wouldn’t lose my impact by taking a paycheck.
Six months in, I think a few of my colleagues might secretly wish I was back on the “outside”, at a distance with my customer voice again :). We have a very open communication culture at Rubrik and I’ve had fun poking my fingers in a lot of pies, speaking into more areas of the product than I knew existed pre-January, and doing everything I can to fan the fire of excellence that first drew me in.
Every couple weeks I get an opportunity to put on my User Experience (UX) hat that I first wore as a SolarWinds customer, which is great. Everything makes sense to creators, but a second, third, and fourth set of eyes help reveal assumed mental leaps that result in customer frustration if not caught. This is a big indication to me of a quality company–humble invitations of customer (and staff) input to tell them what is and isn’t intuitive in a planned (or existing) design. It’s why I keep mentioning SolarWinds–Kellie Meachem and team model it to a ‘T’.
As Pure//Accelerate approaches, one of my favorite aspects of winning solutions comes to mind. It’s a virtue that transforms products into MVPs, rather than the drama generators so common on the court and in the field. What is it?
Businesses have enough knobs and pain points with tier-1 Oracle/SAP deployments and SQL, SharePoint and Exchange farms. The last thing they need is for storage and data protection to jump on the pile. That’s why enterprises need Pure Storage and Rubrik.
From the ground up, Pure and Rubrik have simplicity in their DNA. If you have a FlashArray on the floor, then you already know the freedom and ease it brings to storage infrastructure. Gone are the days of tweaking with RAID sets or tuning LUNs to squeeze out a few performance points. With a few cables and a vSphere plugin, Pure serves up datastores and gets out of the way.
Rubrik brings the same unobtrusive value to data protection and is the perfect pairing to Pure. From rack & go to policy-driven automation to instant recovery, Rubrik drives straight to the point and with beautiful simplicity.
Rack & Go
The first thing that stands out with Rubrik is its lean footprint–it doesn’t eat up precious data center space. When we deployed Rubrik at ExponentHR, we shrunk our backup layout from 14RU at each data center to just 4RU, with an even greater reduction in power consumption and cabling complexity.
With the previous product, the physical installation wasn’t easy, but it paled in comparison to the configuration and learning curve challenges. In contrast, the entire Rubrik deployment took 90 minutes to install and configure at both sites, including drive time. Starting the engine was as easy as a set of vCenter credentials.
After nearly 10 years of pushing the bleeding edge of infrastructure at ExponentHR, I am turning a new page in the career playbook. On January 18th, I begin my new journey through the vendor landscape as a Field Engineer at Rubrik.
It’s a bittersweet change, as I transition from a decade of great memories and an amazing team at Exponent. Misha Vyazmensky, CTO, manager, and friend, led our group through an incredible era of technological changes, always open to new ideas and ready to push the limits of “why not?” Over the years, we explored so many products and ideas “for sports interest,” and through his leadership, created the sleek platform that runs ExponentHR today.
Rubrik makes instant recovery easy everywhere. As I wrote four months ago, it only takes a few clicks to bring a previous version of any protected VM into production. In 2.0, the great folks at Rubrik enhanced this capability with replication.
Replication is a word that means many things to many people and could quickly get abused in comparisons. In our previous data protection solution, replication of backups was limited to scheduled jobs and practically meant our off-site backups were anywhere from 3 hours (best case) to 48 hours (worst case) old, with no guarantees.
Rubrik takes a refreshingly different tactic. In its policy-based world, backups are driven by SLAs (gold, silver, bronze, etc), which are defined by frequency and retention of snapshots. Replication is married to these policies and is triggered upon the completion of VM backups.
For example, this morning one of our mission-critical SQL servers in our Gold Repl SLA domain started a backup job at 6:35am and completed that job one minute later at 6:36am. Gold Repl takes snapshots every 4 hours, keeps those hourlies for 3 days, and then keeps dailies for a month. As the “Repl” denotes, it also replicates and retains 3 days of those backups at another site. Oh, and as the cherry on top, it additionally archives the oldest backups to Amazon S3. Pretty comprehensive, eh?
Earlier today I was beating my head, trying to get Java Runtime Environment working with both Cisco ASDM and EMC XtremIO. The ASDM was working great, but every time I’d try to launch XtremIO’s client (XMS), Java wouldn’t run it. So I tweaked it. And broke Java.
My wise colleague had suggested a vSphere snapshot before I changed too much, so I rolled back to it. I’d already jacked Java too much and it was broken then, too.
Next up: Rubrik!
With Virtualization Field Day 5 (VFD5) coming up this week, it seems appropriate timing for an update on Rubrik in action. For a refresh on what Rubrik is, check out Mike Preston’s #VFD5 Preview – Rubrik. I’ll be using some of what he shared as launching points for elaboration and on-the-ground validation.
Share Nothing – Do Everything
I believe that this is both the most important and likely the most overlooked characteristic of Rubrik and its architecture. It is crucial because it defines how users manage the solution, build redundancy in and around it, and assess performance needs. I also believe it is overlooked because it is like the foundation of a great building–most of it is under the surface and behind the scenes, enabling prominent edifices like Time Machine-like simplicity.
One way that I can describe it is “multi-master management and operations”, though it falls short because Rubrik has no slaves. Every node is the master. Some data protection solutions have redundant storage nodes which all depend on a single control node. If issues arise with control, the plethora of storage behind it is helpless except to sit and maintain integrity. With Rubrik, all nodes have command authority to manage, support, and execute across the infrastructure.
On March 24th, Duncan Epping posted a new blog entitled “Startup intro: Rubrik. Backup and recovery redefined” and subsequently tweeted said post. On that same day in another part of the world (my office), we had paperwork in hand, waiting to be inked, to refresh aging EMC Avamar Gen4 nodes with an Avamar/DataDomain combo. We had looked at several other options from HP, Dell, and Veeam, but it was all just more of the same with a minor pro or con, but nothing worth writing about (including Avamar/DD). No one had really advanced what VCB (VMware Consolidated Backup) brought to the market in 2007.
Then I saw Duncan’s tweet, and I thought to myself, “Hey! This sounds like what we were trying to get when we bought Avamar in 2011!” So I hopped over to rubrik.com, which pretty much consisted of the Aurora Borealis and a button to click for “Early Access”–simplicity from the start! :) The next day, Mike and the guys at Rubrik walked through a demo that confirmed the revolutionary impression I’d started to gather from Duncan. Sign me up!
On April 29th, it hit the floor in two data centers with Eric and Ray shepherding the process (we’re talking beta here, so it’s only prudent to have some authorities on hand to ensure success). Lunch and driving the 15 minutes between sites took the longest part of the install. Seriously. The installs were complete and protecting VMs before the clock struck noon.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now, and Virgin America is giving me that opportunity with an hour departure delay (silver lining? ;).
So much of the tech talk today centers on specs and numbers, but behind every product are people–engineers, executives, and various support staff. These folks have an amazing power to influence the success of their products and services for good and ill.
I still recall a support situation in 1998 or maybe ’99 and a Compaq laptop that had recurring display issues. On tech specs alone, the product would have earned a scathing review (especially since I wasn’t the only one facing the exact, repeat failure). However, Compaq Support all the way up to the VP engaged, rectified (with a replacement laptop), and topped it with a duffel bag and personal note of apology. Doing it right etches it in people’s memories.
Today I’d like to highlight a few folks and groups that have stood out to me recently and reflect well on their products and organizations. It’s a far-from-exhaustive, unordered list that centers on those I’ve not mentioned in previous posts.