Rubrik is one of the big disruptive forces in the storage world. The company, which has raised squillions of dollars from investors who are super bullish about the existential threat that Rubrik creates for legacy companies such as NetApp and EMC, is never far from the limelight – it seems to have done a great job of hiring the smartest people, creating the strongest narrative and generally being a super-effective thorn in the side of aforementioned legacy vendors.

An operating update to set the scene – less than five years since its inception, Rubrik is now 900 employees strong and adding 50-60 new employees per month. It operates in 29 countries and has a broad channel with 300 different transacting partners. All of that sums up to some impressive numbers and last year Rubrik enjoyed achieving a $300 million run rate. All of which makes it an absolutely prime contender for a public listing. And while Sinha wouldn’t give me any timescale on an IPO, he was very clear, that Rubrik will be a publicly listed company eventually. He did add that:

[An IPO is] not the goal. The goal is a long term sustainable business. We don’t want to time bound the IPO – when we’re ready, when we’re at the right place, then we’ll do it

That isn’t going to diminish any time soon given the news that Rubrik is announcing Polaris, its take on a broad data management ecosystem platform. As Bipul Sinha, Rubrik’s CEO put it to me, Polaris is to data what Force.com is to Salesforce. In the same way that Force allowed Salesforce to create a broad ecosystem upon which third parties could build new applications of a central record, Polaris will allow Rubrik and third parties to build a world of different applications that all play some part in the management of the data that Polaris has access to. Becoming focused on data management seems to be the theme du jour for storage companies and there is a reason for this. The increasing amount of data that every organization needs to manage, alongside the more complex requirements they have around that data (distributed applications, more robust regulatory regimes etc.) mean that storage isn’t as simple as grabbing a big storage space and cramming it full of things – storage in today’s world is more nuanced.

New companies such as Druva and Komprise are talking about this new way of looking at things and even legacy companies such as NetApp are doing so also (although, in the case of NetApp, it seems the data management story has fallen by the wayside in recent months.) For Rubrik, it means ensuring applications are always available, and that means covering the gamut of needs – data protection, search, analytics, copy data management, etc. It also means covering the gamut of storage options – public cloud, private cloud, on-premises, hybrid and everything in between.

So what is Polaris, and why is Rubrik doing it?

Rubrik has a pretty good business, why do they need to introduce something new? I sat down with Bipul Sinha pre-launch to get his take on the rationale and the timing. He explained that:

We need to have second chapter. The first was cloud data management – backup, recovery and the like. What we envisage now is a brand new set of products to take the story to a whole new level. The biggest driver for Polaris was the trend of multi cloud in the enterprise. As enterprises begin to think of multicloud, they see lots of fragmentation and increasingly it is hard to deliver management and governance around that data. We envisage a unified system of record across all applications and data

Polaris is a SaaS platform for data management applications. What this means is that it offers users of these various data management tools a global policy framework that covers the various needs they have. While it is somewhat (actually, very) cliched to talk about single systems of record or a single pane of glass, that is what Polaris aims to be – providing native search, workflow orchestration, and a global content catalog, all as a SaaS product and accessible via an open API.

But Rubrik envisages Polaris as more than a central control and management portal, but rather as the start of a series of different data management applications, that all share some common attributes.

Polaris GPS: Multi-Cloud Control and Policy Management

GPS is the first application that Rubrik is releasing for Polaris. GPS delivers a single control and policy management console across globally distributed business applications, which are locally managed by Rubrik’s Cloud Data Management instances. The key benefits of Polaris GPS include, beyond the central view and dashboard, the ability to set a consistent data management policy that covers all of the various storage assets they have.

Rubrik’s CEO, Bipul Sinha is, unsurprisingly, feeling frothy about Polaris, saying that:

What is so unique about Rubrik Polaris is that it delivers a single system of record across all business information. We are delivering a new class of data management applications that will allow enterprises, for the first time, to address all segments of the business for compliance, governance, and security.

MyPOV

Rubrik is a pretty amazing company to watch – it seems to have been on a perfect course and not taken a misstep. It’s impressive revenue figures are proof of this. It will be fascinating to watch as they attempt to change the model and build out an ecosystem of organizations building their own products on top of the Rubrik platform. That’s a very different challenge from building and selling your own product and one that requires a different skill set.

Sinha is well aware of this, however, and I have every confidence that the impressive team he’s built up around the organization will be able to execute this new and different opportunity as well as its executed its primary opportunity. Watch this space. The final word, in his inimitable way, to Sinha who, in a refreshing departure from marketing speak, confessed that in his view:

The number of possible applications on Polaris will be humongous

Best of luck with the journey, Rubrik!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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