Rubrik strengthens abilities in larger multi-PB deployments with Igneous acquisition

Rubrik picks up the assets from Igneous, which imploded in late 2020, but whose technology is first-rate and will significantly upgrade Rubrik’s ability to manage huge amounts of unstructured data.

Vasu Murthy, Rubrik’s VP of Products

Rubrik picked up an early Christmas present just before the holidays with the announcement that they have acquired the assets of Igneous, a 2013 startup that specialized in managing unstructured data at great scale. While Igneous is not a well-known name in the industry, Rubrik thinks the acquisition is a very significant one for them, because while Rubrik did play in the market for large scale unstructured data management before, the new technology greatly improves their capabilities in the space.

Igneous sold their unstructured data management as-a-service solution through a 100% channel model. Their business model focused on being able to manage the flow of large NAS data volumes agnostically to all public clouds, providing backup, recovery and archive as-a-service, and extending the management of API-driven automated data protection workflows to any operation requiring intelligent data movement at scale. That all sounds quite similar to what Rubrik does, but they didn’t see Igneous as a competitor.

“We didn’t consider them a competitor because they weren’t in the same deals as us,” said Vasu Murthy, Rubrik’s VP of Products.

“Igneous’ focus was on petabyte-scale NAS, and they do that PB-scale data management very well,” said Tony Zhou, Senior Product Manager at Rubrik. “ Rubrik already has a NAS product but we saw benefits in acquiring this, because of that proven benefit in managing tens of PB. They complement our NAS data protection technology, let us scale out much further, and makes us stronger in that space. So we see it as very complementary to what we do. We could win those deals before. We already had PB-scale customers, and our technology would have scaled further, but this gives us a proven technology for that purpose.”

Zhou emphasized that the growing volumes of data to be managed and protected makes this kind of management at scale a much more difficult exercise than what the industry has been doing until now.

“As NAS and unstructured data are expanding explosively, going from PB to tens of PB, the original problems with managing data become a lot harder,” he noted. “Doing it isn’t just a minor tweak to what we had been doing. It’s a different space. The problems become much harder at this scale.”

Murthy indicated that Igneous had always been on their radar because they had worked with them before.

“We always keep a watch on what’s going on in the industry, and we were impressed with their technology,” he said. “We talked with their customers and they were very happy with the product.”

The opportunity to acquire Igneous – likely on the cheap, although the purchase price was not disclosed – came about because Igneous effectively collapsed in November.  It was publicly reported that the company had made major layoffs because of poor economic conditions. Exactly how many employees left was not disclosed then, and Rubrik remains cryptic about how many remained. Murthy did indicate while he does not know how many employees were still employed there, the key ones of those who survived the cuts will be joining Rubrik.

While the public phrasing is that Rubrik acquired ‘key technology and IP assets from Igneous,’ making it sound like not all assets were acquired, Murthy acknowledged that was a legalism

“We have acquired all the product, IP, customers and employees,” he said.

The plan is to integrate the Igneous technology into the broader Rubrik data management suite, encompassing structured and unstructured data across on-prem and cloud, and enhancing Rubrik’s current NAS protection capability to provide cloud archival capability for multi-PB NAS sources.

“Our goal is to have a data management platform that encompasses all data, and this makes it possible to manage large unstructured data in a shorter time,” he stated.

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