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Rubrik returns to data backups at Forward 2024

After going public in April, Rubrik is returning to its roots, saying additions to its Rubrik Security Cloud platform are all in service of backup technology.

Don't let the name fool you: The Rubrik Security Cloud is a backup and recovery product at heart.

"Rubrik is still firmly grounded in backup and recovery," said Bipul Sinha, Rubrik co-founder and CEO, on Tuesday during the opening keynote for the North American portion of its virtual Rubrik Forward 2024.

Sinha made the declaration months after the company wrapped its IPO in April and set the tone for updates coming to the platform throughout the year. Highlighted backup capabilities include Azure data protection services, archival tier cloud storage automation options and 15-minute recovery point objectives for Rubrik Cloud Clusters.

These more incremental updates took center stage at Forward over the vendor's more cutting-edge ventures such as Ruby, Rubrik's generative AI (GenAI) assistant that debuted last year.

The focus on data backup and recovery is also a departure for the company. Rubrik heavily positioned itself as a cybersecurity company in the past year, according to Krista Macomber, an analyst at Futurum Group. In 2023, Rubrik acquired Laminar Security after labeling itself as cybersecurity specialists at its last Rubrik Forward. But a shift in messaging is not new for the company, having first started in data management services in 2014, she added.

"They are likely getting some feedback that customers are getting confused by the messaging [after] they pivoted so hard into security," Macomber said.

Safeties on

Still, Rubrik isn't backing away from adding security features to its platform. On Tuesday, it focused attention on two new cyber-resilience capabilities: Sensitive Data Monitoring and Anomaly Detection.

Sensitive Data Monitoring, coming later this year, provides an agentless dashboard that views all data under Rubrik's management to pinpoint what data is exposed across the network and internet, how it is at risk, and who has access to it. At launch, Sensitive Data Monitoring will support Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon S3, Amazon Relational Database Service, SQL database, Azure Blob and Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2.

Rubrik is still firmly grounded in backup and recovery.
Bipul SinhaCo-founder and CEO, Rubrik

Anomaly Detection is being expanded to support Amazon S3, Azure Blob and Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. It generates alerts about file deletion or modifications using machine learning to flag what resources were affected during a cyberattack and what files should be recovered. The capability was released last year with support for Azure VMs, Azure managed disks and Amazon EC2.

These features can help complement security platforms such as Zscaler and CrowdStrike, both Rubrik partners, to minimize the damage from a cyberattack when one inevitably occurs, according to Sinha. The company also integrated Laminar's security posture tools into its Rubrik Enterprise Proactive Edition earlier this year.

"Almost all of us overestimate our ability to beat the odds," Sinha said. "Purely relying on prevention is a failure to plan. Companies must protect data itself."

Such a perspective is vital for both security and infrastructure teams to maintain, according to Jerome Wendt, founder and president of Data Center Intelligence Group. Attacks cannot be stopped by even the most diligent teams with a variety of software platforms, he said, as attackers only need to break the defenses one time to do damage.

"Thankfully, everyone is saying that now," Wendt said.

Tools for anomaly detection and finding vulnerable data are useful, but need to come with user-controlled automation and policies, he said. Backup admins want to take much of the guesswork out of both preventing data loss and recovering from it, but overzealous automation could further complicate the job, according to Wendt.

"Most people are trying to make it to 5 o'clock and not get a call at 2 in the morning," he said. "You need to automate your security infrastructure as much as possible, but you don't want a lot of false positives."

Additional automation features will soon be added to the Rubrik Security Cloud, including automated remediation and reports on file changes for the Ruby generative AI assistant, according to Rubrik spokespeople.

A slide showing new features for Rubrik Cloud Platform in the next six months.
Rubrik outlines its next six months of features and updates on a slide during the virtual Rubrik Forward 2024.

Same storage, different duties

Rubrik's messaging about its platform's backup and security capabilities might have muddied its specific niche in the stack, but customers of the Rubrik Security Cloud said that messaging reflects their own shifting roles.

Infrastructure engineers and security engineers are cross-pollinating in duties, according to Kevin Mortimer, head of operations at the University of Reading in the U.K.

Security teams might understand implemented policies in the abstract, he said, but infrastructure engineers understand how the policy affects daily business. The Rubrik platform has enabled his team to maintain uptime for the virtual environment students connect to.

"It's always been my belief that the best security engineers are infrastructure engineers, because they understand how it should work, rather than just some theory around the security parts of it," Mortimer said during a conference panel.

Generative AI has the potential to further complicate the role of backup administrators, according to Frederic Lhoest, senior technology architect at telecom service provider PCCW Global and a conference panelist.

Despite the promises of automation, security and isolation should remain a priority for any vendor offering such a service, he said.

"I would like to have a strong commitment from a partner using GenAI that our data remain used in our own tenant and is not used to feed another customer's GenAI engine," Lhoest said. "Otherwise, our security posture is at risk."

Lhoest's demands aren't without merit, Macomber said, and customers should demand transparency from backup vendors as they push generative AI services without clear use cases.

"Everything is being AI-washed these days," Macomber said. "Customers are going to be adopting it incrementally."

Tim McCarthy is a news writer for TechTarget Editorial covering cloud and data storage.

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