Rubrik just recently released announcements of their 4.0 product, entitled “Alta” and as the name alludes – Rubrik has set its sights high with this huge product drop! Building upon their high-performing, quick-ingest backup solution, the 3.2 release saw enhancements for Azure and Amazon as cloud cluster backup targets. This new 4.0 release expands to include new integrations with Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV), adopts deeper integration with SQL and Oracle RMAN (say whaaaaat?), and exposes Cloud Instantiation – a new feature to further drive Rubrik’s Amazon integration into the stratosphere. Let’s dive in!
First thing’s first: housekeeping. We all know Rubrik has been rocketing past the competition with their API-first backup platform, able to flash-ingest backup data faster than many traditional backup solutions and assign tiers of protection that meet business SLAs directly within the user interface.
Previous releases have seen the ability to backup VMware vSphere workloads, as well as Amazon and Azure cloud instances. Alta now includes native backup support for Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV workloads, expanding their offering to include all three of the most commonly used hypervisors in the market today. Hyper-V has been around since its release in Windows Server 2008, and has plenty of backup options to date, yet none as sophisticated as Rubrik has to offer. AHV, the “new kid on the block”, has unfortunately seen little love from the data protection ecosystem, making a holistic, production-worthy data protection lifecycle difficult to implement until now. Rubrik’s Alta release delivers their robust solution with multi-cloud, multi-hypervisor support on day 1, enabling best-of-breed solutions in the hybrid environment of today.
In previous releases Rubrik has exposed the Rubrik Connector for Microsoft SQL Server, enabling integration with the database server via a Rubrik Connector agent and providing “Incremental Forever” restore points. Alta now enables instant restores of MSSQL databases, reducing the RTO to near-zero by exposing the necessary database files over SMBv3 back to the Rubrik Connector agent. This same agent that enables backup of the database files, also enables you to “live-mount” those files back to a SQL Server instance from within the Rubrik interface. With native hot-block tiering being the foundation of the data platform, and 10GbE networking being the standard network fabric of today’s data center – you can see how this enhancement can turn a DBA’s frown upside-down. The intention here is for ad-hoc queries / point in time data requests to be serviced, and SQL backup validation can be achieved easily through this mechanism. Also it is possible to live-mount the same database to multiple SQL Servers at once, thus accomplishing a test/dev refresh quickly and effortlessly.
More on the database front: Oracle RMAN backup integration is one of the newest enhancements included with this release. To say this was done in a clever way is an understatement: Rubrik introduces the idea of a “managed volume” that is a Read-Only NFS share, which is presented to the host OS of the Oracle DB Server. This NFS mount is then controlled with tight API integration, so that when RMAN begins a backup the “begin_snapshot” API call will signal that the NFS share be flipped to read/write – providing RMAN write access to backup the Oracle DB. Upon completion, the “end_snapshot” call changes the NFS share back to read-only, thus persisting and preserving data between backup windows. Did I mention that since Rubrik owns the NFS share, the data can be protected under Rubrik’s SLA-driven policies? Yes, we now have the ability to backup, replicate and archive Oracle via RMAN backups with Rubrik for OEL, Exadata, or any platform that supports Oracle DBs. High-Five Rubrik!
Alta also adds integration with Q-star, a Tape front-ending solution that enables the use of a tape backup solution over NFS or SMB network share. Prior to this release, backup to tape mediums was more of a manual process, and lacked the tight integration that Rubrik brings to its other ecosystem partners. With 4.0 we can mount a Q-star Archive Manager share natively within the Rubrik interface and offload full snapshots to tape on a schedule.
Last but not least, Cloud Instantiation is a new hit-single at the top of the Alta-charts: Automated workflows for instantiating an AMI from Rubrik replicated S3 data! This means we have the ability to take our cloud-replicated storage from VMware vSphere, replicate that data to an S3 bucket, and create Amazon Machine Images that match the Virtual Machine configuration. This match-up is done programmatically by comparing the VMware VMX configuration file against Amazon’s “T-Shirt sizes” and finding the best fit. Even better – we have the option of creating this backup-generated AMI on-demand or automatically after the latest backup of an image is fully committed to S3. The automated use case is perfect for data target validation (ensuring your data isn’t corrupt in the cloud) or for instant DR validation.
In summary: this is one huge release. Rubrik had a leap forward with their “incremental” 3.2 update that introduced Cloud Clustering and AWS/Azure backup capabilities. Alta is a whole new ballpark, where Rubrik added wide and deep support for the industry’s best data center and cloud solutions.
I appreciate seeing vendors swing for the fences, and Alta is a bases-loaded grand-slam for Rubrik.