Rubrik acquisition enhances vendor's artificial intelligence

Rubrik, which uses artificial intelligence in ransomware detection and governance offerings, bought additional AI technology for more proactive data management assistance.

With the acquisition of a company specializing in artificial intelligence, Rubrik has boosted its technology in an area that is fast becoming a key piece of data protection and management.

Opas AI's concentration is in AI for root cause analysis. Rubrik claims the technology will help its data protection and data management customers respond quicker to problems and potential issues in IT.

The Opas AI technology will help users take advantage of their data and "make them much more efficient, and be able to respond to anomalies in the operational environment, in a much more timely manner," said Vinod Marur, senior vice president of engineering at Rubrik.

With the sheer amount of data in use by organizations, it's important to get as much intelligence on it as possible.

"And the best form of that is slightly more proactive than reactive," Marur said. "It's always easier if you're able to ... proactively alert the user, so that they can take remedial action in a nonemergency situation."

The Rubrik acquisition of an AI company "looks like a first [for a backup vendor], and it's certainly an interesting and timely move," said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

"This is definitely the way things are going," Bertrand said. "Rubrik is very smart in beefing up their capabilities with this acquisition."

Increased interest in artificial intelligence

Opas AI, which was headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., developed an AI-based causation engine that can understand the behavioral parameters of applications and their underlying infrastructure. With the new technology, Rubrik hopes to provide users with more proactive alerting, shorter problem resolution cycles and increased availability.

Headshot of Rubrik's Vinod MarurVinod Marur

"[Opas AI staff] spent a lot of time thinking about this problem space and started having some very good breakthroughs," Marur said.

The Rubrik acquisition comes at a time when artificial intelligence is a major trend in IT. More organizations will increase spending on artificial intelligence this year than any other area of technology, according to this month's ESG research report, "2020 Technology Spending Intentions Survey."

Sixty-four percent of organizations in the survey said they will increase investments in AI this year compared to 2019 spending. It's the first time in ESG's research that AI has surpassed such areas as cybersecurity and public cloud services as the top technology for spending increases.

This is definitely the way things are going. Rubrik is very smart in beefing up their capabilities with this acquisition.
Christophe BertrandSenior analyst, ESG

AI in backup can help remediate abnormal situations before they happen, ESG's Bertrand said. It can help users understand what's happening with their infrastructure and predict trends. And with backup and recovery vendors striving to gain more intelligence and use from data beyond protection, such as compliance and analytics, AI can help.

"There's just too much data and not enough people to deal with it," Bertrand said.

Still, Bertrand said organizations should be cautious about deploying AI and machine learning. It's important to strike a balance between machine and human work.

"AI/ML is great but remember who is in charge," Bertrand said.

The fine print on Rubrik acquisition

Rubrik already uses AI in its Polaris Radar and Sonar products. Radar ransomware detection and remediation uses AI to identify security weaknesses and attacks. Sonar alerts customers to potential governance and compliance issues.

The Rubrik acquisition of Opas AI will provide a more across-the-board technology improvement, rather than a focus on one offering.

"That architecture just wouldn't make sense," Marur said.

Bertrand said he expects Rubrik to bring smarter features to market and enhance capabilities across its platform following the acquisition. He said he wouldn't be surprised if more backup vendors follow suit.

Marur said Rubrik will be "very opportunistic" with any potential future acquisitions. In 2018, Rubrik acquired Datos IO, a provider of backup and recovery for NoSQL databases and big data file systems. In 2019, Rubrik secured $261 million in funding, with AI and ML as potential spending targets.

Opas AI will be folded into Rubrik and will not retain its name. Marur did not say how many employees Rubrik gained as a result of the acquisition. Rubrik did not disclose terms of the acquisition, which closed a couple of months ago.

Opas AI was founded in 2017 by Mohit Gupta and Gurashish Brar.

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