GreyBeards talk VMware agentless backup with Chris Wahl, Tech Evangelist, Rubrik

In this edition we discuss Rubrik’s converged data backup with Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl), Tech Evangelist for Rubrik.  You may recall Chris as a blogger on a number of Tech, Virtualization and Storage Field Days (VFD2, TFD extra at VMworld2014, SFD4, etc.) which is where  I met him. Chris is one of the bloggers that complains about me pounding on my laptop keyboard so loud at SFDs ;/

Chris had only been with Rubrik about 3 weeks when we  talked with him but both Howard and I thought it was time to find out what Rubrik was up to.

Rubrik provides an agentless, scale-out backup appliance for VMware vSphere clusters. It uses VADP to tap into VM data stores and obtain changed blocks for backup data. Rubrik deduplicates and compresses VM backup data and customers define a SLA  policy at the VM, folder or vSphere cluster level to determine when to backup VMs.

Rubrik supports cloud storage (any S3 or SWIFT provider) for long term archive storage of VM backups. With Rubrik, customers can search the backup catalog (for standard VM, NFS file, and backup metadata) that spans the Rubrik cluster data as well as S3/SWIFT storage backups.  Moreover, Rubrik can generate compliance reports to indicate how well your Rubrik-vSphere backup environment has met requested backup SLAs, over time.

Aside from the standard recovery facilities, Rubrik offers some interesting recovery options such as “instant restore” which pauses a VM and reconfigures its storage to come up on the Rubrik cluster (as a set of NFS VMDKs). Another option is “instant mount”, which runs a completely separate copy of a VM using Rubrik storage as its primary storage. In this case the VM’s NIC is disconnected so that the VM gets an error when it fires up, which has to be resolved to run the VM.

Rubrik hardware comes in a 2U package with 4 nodes. Each node has one flash SSD and 3 4 or 8TB SATA disks for customer data. The SSD is used for ingest caching and metadata. Data is triple mirrored across SATA disks in different nodes.

The latest release of Rubrik supports (compressed/deduped) data replication to other Rubrik clusters located up to asynchronous distances away.

This months edition runs just under 42 minutes and gets somewhat technical in places. We had fun with Chris on our call and hope you enjoy the podcast.


Chris Wahl, Tech Evangelist, Rubrik


Chris Wahl, author of the award winning Wahl Network blog and Technical Evangelist at Rubrik, focuses on creating content that revolves around virtualization, automation, infrastructure, and evangelizing products and services that benefit the technology community.

In addition to co-authoring “Networking for VMware Administrators” for VMware Press, he has published hundreds of articles and was voted the “Favorite Independent Blogger” by vSphere-Land three years in a row (2013 – 2015).

Chris also travels globally to speak at industry events, provide subject matter expertise, and offer perspectives to startups and investors as a technical adviser.

GreyBeards talk data-aware, scale-out file systems with Peter Godman, Co-founder & CEO, Qumulo

In this podcast we discuss Qumulo’s data-aware, scale-out file system storage with Peter Godman, Co-founder & CEO of Qumulo. Peter has been involved in scale-out storage for a while now, coming from (EMC) Isilon before starting Qumulo. Although, this time he’s adding data-awareness to scale-out storage. Presently, Qumulo is vertically focused on the HPC and media/entertainment market spaces.

Qumulo is the first storage vendor we have heard of that implements their software with Agile development techniques. This allows them to release new functionality to the field every two weeks – talk about rapidly turning out software. We believe this is pretty risky and Ray talks more about Agile development for storage in his Storage on Agile blog post.

But Qumulo mostly sees itself as data aware NAS, using Posix metadata and a neat, internally designed/developed database to store, index and retrieve file system metadata. Qumulo’s proprietary database provides much faster response to queries on meta-data, such as what files have changed since last backup, calculate all the  storage space consumed by a specific owner, supply inclusion/exclusion lists to split the file systems into 100 partitions, etc. The database is not a relational or conventional database, but almost old-school, indexed data structures tailored to providing quick answers to the queries of most interest to customers and their application environment. In a scale-out NAS environment like Qumulo’s, with potentially billions of files, you just don’t have time to walk an inode tree to get these sorts of answers, anymore.

Qumulo supplies both hardware and software to its customers but also offers a software-only or software defined storage (SDS) version for those few customers that want it. SDS versions can help potential customers perform  proofs of concept (PoCs) using VMs.

In their system nodes, Qumulo uses SSDs and disks. SSDs provide a sort of NVM that holds recently written data but can also be used for reading data. Behind the SSDs are 8TB disks. Today, Qumulo provides mirrored storage that’s widely spread or dispersed across all the storage in their system. With this wide-striping of data, rebuild times for (an 8TB) disk failure is ~1:20 for a single QC204 (204TB) system node and halves every time you double the number of nodes.

It was refreshing to hear a startup vendor clearly answer what they have and don’t have implemented in their current system. Some startups try to obfuscate or talk around the lack of functionality but Peter’s answers were always clear and (sometimes to) concise on what’s in and not in current Qumulo functionality.

This months edition runs just over 47 minutes and gets pretty technical in places, but mostly stays at a high functional level.  We hope you enjoy the podcast.


Peter Godman, Co-founder & CEO Qumulo

pete_7CPeter brings 20 years of industry systems experience to Qumulo. As VP of Engineering and CEO of Corensic, Peter brought the world’s first thin-hypervisor based product to market. As Director of Software Engineering at Isilon, he led development of several major releases of Isilon’s award-winning OneFS distributed file system and was inventor of 18 patented technologies. Peter studied math and computer science at MIT.

GreyBeards talk Nexgen Storage with John Spiers, CEO and Kelly Long, CTO Nexgen Storage

In this podcast we discuss Nexgen’s hybrid storage with John Spiers, Founder & CEO and Kelly Long, Founder & CTO of Nexgen Storage. Both John and Kelly have had a long and interesting career across multiple companies ranging from startups to major industry organizations, so they bring a unique perspective to what’s happening in the storage industry today.

Nexgen Storage has an unusual history itself, having been acquired by FusionIO, then SanDisk acquired FusionIO and then SanDisk spun out Nexgen Storage as an independent company again. There were good reasons for each of these changes and John goes into some detail in the podcast on these transitions.

Some of Nexgen Storage’s competitive advantages are from a few decisions, made early on in the development of the product. Specically, the use of PCIe Flash storage as a separate storage tier and their vision of the need for highly granular Quality of Service (QoS) functionality.

It turns out that Nexgen Storage was an early adopter of FusionIO’s PCIe flash cards and continues to use SanDisk solutions in their hybrid storage today. John and Kelly discuss some of  their considerations behind using PCIe Flash vs. SSDs in the podcast.

John and Kelly also talk about why QoS is so important to today’s storage systems and and how Nexgen’s QoS differs from the rest of the competition. Some of the data Nexgen gathers about IO and other system activity is pretty impressive and as it turns out, is absolutely essential to providing the level QoS that Nexgen supplies.

Another item discussed on the podcast is Nexgen’s data reduction capabilities which they refer to as “simple dedupe”. It’s not quite dedupe, but it does have some interesting characteristics we haven’t seen in other storage systems.

Finally, at the end of the podcast, there’s some discussion on the hardware innovation coming out around the PCIe bus and what this might mean to future storage systems.

This months editionruns just under 44 minutes and doesn’t get as technical as some of our previous sessions. We even discuss goto market strategies at prior companies and channel changes that transpired during the FusionIO and SanDisk acquisitions.  We hope you enjoy the podcast.


John Spiers, Founder & CEO, and Kelly Long, Founder & CTO, Nexgen StorageJohn Spiers

John is a serial entrepreneur based in Boulder, CO. John has been pioneering breakthrough data storage innovations for over 30 Years. He co-founded venture-backed LeftHand Newtorks, a market leader in virtualized, scale-out data storage, and served as LeftHand’s Chief Technology Officer. In 2010 John co-founded NexGen Storage. John supports local entrepreneurs, serving on the boards of local technology startups and as an advisor for the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. John is a graduate from Colorado State University with a degree in Engineering.

Kelly Long


Kelly has been innovating in the storage industry for over 20 years. An expert in architecting and developing storage software, Kelly has contributed to the advancement of a wide range of technologies such as hard drives, high currency multi-thread/multi-processor/multi-computer computing and clustered storage systems. He holds multiple patents, and has worked at leading companies, including Maxtor, StorageTek, LeftHand Networks, Copan, Dot Hill, Crosswalk, MySQL and Sun. He was a co-founder and chief software architect at LeftHand Networks. Kelly has a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.