Backup Systems and Services

Bipul Sinha wants Rubrik to be the iPhone of enterprise backup

Sea Containers House is a dirty-beige, rather prominent building perched on the artsy South Bank of London’s Thames, next to Blackfriars Bridge. Back when I worked here – in an office on the seventh floor – it had an unloved, slightly abandoned 1970s feel. Now it has been re-vamped into the glossy five star Mondrian Hotel with a swish bar plonked in what was once the dank communal lobby.

I’m here to meet Bipul Sinha, CEO and co-founder of Rubrik – a company which he claims is “defining what next generation data management should be”.

“Our goal is to simplify and scale backup and recovery,” he explains. “We want to give an Apple like experience to the backwater of the enterprise ecosystem.”

It is a good pitch and Sinha has been doing the rounds, but it’s impossible not to see some tiny parallels between the backup and recovery space and the venue itself.

Backup and recovery is worth around $48bn – and teeming with players from the old and established to the very new – yet despite an immense strategic importance to businesses it always has a slightly dusty air. This is through no fault of its own, it’s just very technical, expensive, and hard to tell if it’s working properly at all until it fails. 

Launched in January 2014, Rubrik – which has raised $51 million in VC funding – is shiny, new and wants to change things. It has cash to spend, vaulting ambition and has hired its staff from the biggest companies. At present it is in hyper-growth mode and boasts (in its press pack) that in just nine months of selling has acquired 50+ customers, signed 100+ resellers and deployed 250+ solutions.

The majority of this has been in North America, although Sinha stresses, the company intended to be global from day one. Its second customer was Australian, he says. And now the team is over in London to cement its commitment to growth in EMEA and announce the appointment of Karl Driesen (former VP EMEA of Palo Alto Networks) as the new Head of Sales.

Rubrik’s big promise is that it offers a new approach to an old problem. It achieves this by converging functions, like backup, replication, storage and catalogues, at the software layer [technical PDF]. And it has been built by engineers from Facebook, Google, VMWare and Data Domain who have “blended their consumer and enterprise expertise to create a simple, searchable, scalable and secure solution”.

Sinha himself also has long Silicon Valley pedigree. This began with Oracle databases and has progressed into venture capitalism. He is currently a capital partner at Lightspeed – which part-funded Rubrik – and is chair of and investor in Nutanix.

Rubrik is likely to be a public company in four years, says Sinha. Although his overarching message appears to be that he takes the long view. In the history of innovation there has always been “a winning company” who see things differently, he explains. “A crowded market [like this one] is a good thing if you have something different.”

In fact, on previous occasions Sinha has been quite scathing about established companies in the space – specifically Commvault and Veem – which worse than dinosaurs, have been described as ’92 and ’95 in feel. To us, he lists his closest disruptive competitors as, cloud infrastructure company Igneous Systems (which launched in May 2014) and storage hyperconvergence solution Cohesity (founded June 2013).

However, he’s keen to add: “We believe we are a year ahead of the rest.”

Either way the market can never remain stagnant as data is growing at an exponential rate. “The competition is going to keep innovating which is good for us and good for the market,” says Sinha.

“Thirty years ahead… I’ll leave it to your imagination,” he concludes.


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