Our transition to Rubrik backups


At my day job a few years ago, I wrote a web app to help with monitoring the backup jobs for our VM environment. We used a tool called VRanger (by Quest Software, previously Dell Software, previously Quest Software) to do all our VMware backups. For those unfamiliar, VRanger is pretty similar in concept to Veeam, as a dedicated vSphere backup solution. It worked pretty well for us, but one of the major shortfalls was that when scheduled backups failed for whatever reason, there wasn’t good record-keeping to let us know.

VM backup jobs would fail fairly frequently, but we only backed up each VM once per day and most of the time the change rate wasn’t very high, so if a VM didn’t get backed up for a day, it wasn’t that big of a deal. If the job failed a couple times in a row though, that was a big deal, and VRanger didn’t have a way to alert on that. So I wrote an application to keep track of it.

VRanger kept all of its data in a MSSQL database, and so it was pretty easy to query the database and get the job data, and from that render a pretty web page with the relevant data and send an alert when a VM had gone for a few cycles without successfully backing up. Piece of cake.

The problem was, VRanger kinda sucks, and we were about to get a much better VM backup solution (that’s a problem?)

    Enter Rubrik

Let’s get this out of the way right now. Rubrik is F@$kin’ sweet.

By this point we were about 85% virtual, so VM backups were really important, and physical backups were less so. We needed a new backup solution, as we had well outgrown our existing VRanger/DataDomain system, and needed something new. We checked out several solutions, including Avamar, which was frankly funny. EMC wanted to sell us their entire software suite and a half rack of DataDomain, some Isilon, and a bunch of other shit.

Then there was this new player called Rubrik. They have an appliance with a stack of disks in it, that talks to vCenter, and just handles backups. We got their SE to bring a POC box in, and within 10 minutes we had it configured, talking to vCenter, and had set up a backup job on a VM. The SE then walked us through doing a live mount of the VM we just backed up in vCenter, which took that backup, registered it as a new VM in vCenter, and powered it on, all with the storage running off of Rubrik box. The Rubrik registers itself with vCenter as an NFS datastore. From start to running VM, maybe 2 minutes tops. And then if I want to restore that new VM permanently, it’s just a storage vMotion from the Rubrik to permanent storage. So slick.

    Sorry EMC

So yea, we bought Rubrik. There’s a bunch of other reasons why we decided on it versus the other choices, but simplicity was the main theme. From creating backup SLAs, to setting up notifications, to restores, to spinning up temporary environments, Rubrik won on ease of use. Of course, migrating to Rubrik sorta broke my VM backup monitoring application, but that’s a different post.

P.S. If you want to annoy a long-time Rubrik employee, ask them about the adhesive on their bezels. Much fun to be had.

Currently drinking: Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop IPA

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