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Data protection vendor Rubrik selects its first president

Rubrik appointed Dan Rogers, former CMO of ServiceNow and Symantec, as its first president. Rogers wants to push Rubrik towards data reuse, which he says is the future of backup.

Rubrik hit a growth milestone last week as it appointed Dan Rogers as the company's first-ever president.

Rogers, former CMO at ServiceNow and Symantec, said he saw many similarities between Rubrik and ServiceNow. Both are fast-growing companies that are riding what he described as a "wave of digitization" -- more and more businesses are becoming reliant on data and the software around it. He said when Rubrik sought him for the president position, he saw it as an opportunity to build an enduring company.

Rubrik had no president before Rogers. Four of its founders remain in executive roles, including CEO Bipul Sinha. Rogers said Rubrik's customer base and the size of the company had grown to a scale where opening such a leadership position made sense.

Dan RogersDan Rogers

Rogers said the backup industry is going through a transformation. Businesses are looking for legacy backup to be consolidated on modern platforms. After data is centralized and manageable from one point, the next step is to use that backup data for other business purposes instead of letting it sit idle. Rogers said this gives a clear direction to take Rubrik in.

Secondary data reuse requires data management capabilities that can account for an organization's entire data estate, Rogers said. The big opportunity he sees for Rubrik -- and the backup industry as a whole -- is gathering and consolidating that metadata. From there, it's possible to fulfill any data governance requirement.

"We're still at stage one," Rogers said, which he described as a hurdle for companies still using legacy backup systems.

Rubrik launched in 2014 with backup and recovery geared toward hybrid cloud environments, forcing established legacy backup vendors such as Commvault and Veritas to accommodate cloud as well. It acquired cloud database backup vendor Datos IO in February 2018 and bought Opas AI last month. Rogers could not comment on how exactly Opas AI's technology will be used in Rubrik's products, but said Rubrik is investing heavily in AI and machine learning.

Rubrik completed a $261 million Series E funding round in January 2019. At the time, Rubrik CEO Sinha said he specifically wanted to use AI and machine learning to extract value from backup data, and would acquire companies to gain that technology if it was faster than developing it internally.

AI and machine learning will play a major role in next-generation storage, according to Steven Hill, senior analyst at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. The technology is already being used in an operational capacity, providing capabilities such as automated resource allocation and predicting hardware failures. IBM and HPE have storage management tools that demonstrate this.

Hill said that recently, the technology is being used in a more investigative capacity. It can identify and classify the data itself and then build automation around data lifecycle management based on that information. More importantly, it can flag data that requires special handling.

"The massive growth of unstructured data is making this the new priority in enterprise data management," Hill said, adding that data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA have pushed data management to the forefront.

Hill said this is not the endgame of AI and machine learning when it comes to data management. He believes AI and machine learning -based data analytics will be used to help businesses reduce costs, keep data growth in check and derive value from stored data.

Rubrik claims more than 2,500 enterprises and governments use its Cloud Data Management platform. It issued a press release last month claiming annual gross bookings run rate of $600 million, an unusually large number for a startup. 

But Rubrik is not immune from challenges that all businesses face in 2020. It had been considered a candidate to go public in this year, but the current economic situation fueled by the new coronavirus may impact that. The coronavirus also forced Rubrik to change its first planned Rubrik Forward user conference to a virtual summit. The conference was originally set for May 11, 2020 in Chicago, Ill. Rogers said the COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate impact on both Rubrik and its customers by forcing more employees to work from home, but it was still too early to determine any long-term effects.

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