Since they came out of stealth in 2015, Rubrik has significantly expanded the features and capabilities of their core product. They have had 13 major releases and added features for cloud providers, multi-tenant environments, Polaris, a software-as-a-service platform that provides enhanced cloud features and global management, and Radar, a service that detects and protects against ransomware attacks.
Today, Rubrik is announcing their 14th major release – Andes 5.0. The Andes release builds on top of Rubrik’s feature rich platform to further expand the capabilities of the product. It expands support for both on-premises mission critical applications as well as cloud native applications, and it extends or enhances existing product features.
Key features of this release are:
Enhanced Oracle Protection
Oracle database backup support was introduced in the Rubrik 4.0 Alta release, and it was basically a scripted RMAN backup to a Rubrik managed volume. The Rubrik team has been hard at work enhnacing this feature.
Rubrik is introducing a connector agent that can be installed on Oracle hosts or RAC nodes. This connector will be able to discover instances and databases automatically, allowing SLAs to be applied directly to the hosts or the databases directly.
Simplified administration of Oracle backups isn’t the only Oracle enhancement in the Andes release. The popular Live Mount feature has now been extended to Oracle environments. If you’re not familiar with Live Mount, it is the ability to run a virtual machine or database directly from the backup. This is useful for test and development environments or retrieving a single table or row that was accidentally dropped from a database.
Point-in-time recovery of Oracle environments is another new Oracle enhancement. This feature allows Oracle administrators to restore their database to a specific point in time. Rubrik will orchestrate the recovery of the database and replay log files to reach the specified point in time.
SAP HANA Protection
SAP HANA is the in-memory database that drives many SAP implementations. In Andes 5.0, Rubrik offers an SAP-certified HANA backup solution that utilizes SAP’s BackInt APIs for HANA data protection. This solution integrates with HANA Studio and SAP Cockpit. The SAP HANA protection feature also supports point-in-time recovery and log management features.
HANA protection relies on another new feature of Andes called Elastic App Service. Elastic App Service is a managed volume mounted on the Rubrik CDM and provide the same SLA driven policies that other Rubrik objects get.
Microsoft SQL Server Enhancements
Rubrik has supported Microsoft SQL Server backups since the 3.0 release, and there has been a steady stream of enhancements to this feature. The Andes release is no different, and it adds two major SQL Server backup features.
The first is the introduction of Changed Block Tracking for SQL Server databases. This feature will act similarly to the CBT function provided in VMware vSphere. The benefit of this feature is that the Rubrik backup service can now look at the database change file to determine what blocks need to be backed up rather than scanning the database for changes, allowing for a shorter backup window and reduced overhead on the SQL Server host.
Another SQL Server enhancement is group Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots. Rubrik utilizes Microsoft’s VSS SQL Writer Service to provide a point-in-time copy of the database. The SQL Writer Service does this by freezing all operations on, or quiescing, the database to take a VSS snapshot. Once the snapshot is completed, the database resumes operations while Rubrik performs any backup operations against the snapshot. This process needs to be repeated on each individual database that Rubrik backs up, and this can lead to lengthy backup windows when there are multiple databases on each SQL Server.
Group VSS snapshots allow Rubrik to protect multiple databases on the same server in with one VSS snapshot action. Databases that are part of the same SLA group will have their VSS snapshots taken and processed at the same time. This essentially parallelizes backup operations for that SLA group. The benefits of this are a reduction in SQL Server backup times and the ability to perform backups more frequently.
Windows Bare-Metal Recovery
Rubrik started off as a virtualization backup product. However, there are still large workloads that haven’t been virtualized. While Rubrik supported some phyiscal backups, such as SQL Server database backups, it never supported full backup and recovery of physical Windows Servers. This meant that it couldn’t fully support all workloads in the database.
The Andes 5.0 release introduces the ability to protect workloads and data that reside on physical Windows Servers. This is done with the same level of simplicity as all other virtualized and physical database workloads.
Physical Windows backup is done through the existing Rubrik Backup Service that is used for database workloads. The initial backup is a full system backup that is saved to a VHDX file, and all subsequent backups utilize changed block tracking to only backup the changes to the volumes.
Restoring to bare metal isn’t fully automated, but it seems fairly straightforward. The host server boots to a WinPE environment, mounts a Live Mount of the Windows Volume snapshots, and then runs a PowerShell script to restore the volumes. Once the restore is complete, the server can be rebooted to the normal boot drive.
This option is not only good for backing up and protecting physical workloads, but it can also be used for P2V and P2C (or physical-to-cloud) migrations.
The Windows BMR feature only supports Windows Server 2008 R2, Server 2012 R2, and Server 2016. It does not support Windows 7 or Windows 10.
SLA Policy Enhancements
Setting up backup policies inside of Rubrik is fairly simple. You create an SLA domain, you set the frequency and retention period of backup points, and you apply that policy to virtual machines, databases, or other objects.
But what if you need more control over when certain backups are taken? There may be policies in place that determine when certain kinds of backups need to occur.
Andes 5.0 introduces Advanced SLA Policy Configuration. This is an optional feature that enables administrators to not only specify the frequency and retention period of a backup point, but is also allows that administrator to specify when those backups take place.
For example, my policy may dictate that I need to take my monthly backup on the last day of each month. Under Rubrik’s normal scheduling engine, I can only specify a monthly backup. I can’t create a schedule that is only applied on the last day of the month.
Office365 is quickly replacing on-premises Exchange and Sharepoint servers as organizations move to the Software-as-a-Service model. While Micorsoft provides tools to help retain data, it is possible to permanently delete data. There are also scenarios where it is not easy to move data – such as migrating to a new Office365 tenant.
Starting with the Andes 5.0 release, Rubrik will support backup and recovery of Office365 email and calendar objects through the Polaris platform. Polaris will act as the control plane for Office365 backup operations, and it will utilize the customer’s own Azure cloud storage to host the backup data and the search index.
SLAs can be applied to individual users or to all users in a tenant. When it is applied to all users, new users and mailboxes will automatically inherit the SLA so they are protected as soon as they are created.
The Office365 protection feature allows for individual items, folders, or entire mailboxes to be recovered. These items can be restored to the original mailbox location or exported to another user’s mailbox.
The Andes 5.0 release is a very large release, and I’m scratching the surface of what’s being included. Some other key highlights of this release are:
- NAS Direct Archive – Direct backup of NAS filesets into the Cloud
- Live Mount VMDKs from Snapshots
- Improved vCenter Recovery – Can recover directly to ESXi host
- EPIC EHR Database Backup on Pure Storage
- Snapshot Retention Enhancements
- Support for RSA Multi-factor Authentication
- API Tokens for Authentication
- Cloud Archive Consolidation
This is another impressive release from Rubrik. There are a number of long-awaited feature enhancements in this release, and they continue to add new features at a rapid pace.