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A Q&A with Rubrik CEO and venture capitalist Bipul Sinha

Bipul Sinha did not become a successful entrepreneur, engineer and venture capitalist by following staid career moves and adhering to traditional business strategies or pursuing cool ideas. Instead, taking the opposite approach has allowed him to profitably carve out a career that combines all three vocations.

His assortment of skill sets no doubt played a role in Microsoft’s announcement in August 2021 that it had signed a strategic agreement with the data security firm that Sinha helped fund, co-founded and now runs as its chief executive officer (CEO), Palo Alto, Calif.-based Rubrik.

The agreement, which included an undisclosed equity investment in the company by Microsoft, saw the two organizations pledge to address what a release stated as “the rising customer needs to protect against surging ransomware attacks, which are growing 150 per cent annually.”

“Rubrik takes a Zero Trust approach to data management which follows the NIST principles of Zero Trust for everyone interacting with data,” it went on to explain. “This means operating with the assumption that no person, application, or device is trustworthy. To meet this standard, data must be natively immutable so that it is not modified, encrypted, or deleted by ransomware.

“Together, Rubrik and Microsoft will help enterprises manage hybrid and multi-cloud data security and defend against escalating ransomware threats.”

During a visit to Toronto last week, Sinha sat down with IT World Canada at Microsoft Canada’s downtown head office to discuss issues ranging from the importance of the Canadian market to the impact the generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) movement is and will have when it comes to combating the myriad of cybersecurity issues and challenges that exist.

“We have a special relationship with Microsoft, but we work with other hyperscalers, and we have partnerships with them as well,” he said. “But with Microsoft, we have really aligned our engineering teams, our product teams to doing joint product development and driving this vision of secure computation, secure applications.”

Below is an edited version of the rest of the conversation

ITWC:  First, what is the purpose of your trip?

Sinha: I am here to meet with our customers and partners and understand what is driving their priorities and how do we align our vision of cyber recovery and cyber resilience with them. As you know, prevention strategy around cyber is not working. You cannot prevent the unpreventable. Businesses have to have a strategy around how do they recover when the inevitable cyber attack happened and how do they continue to operate the business in the presence of cyberattacks and breaches?

ITWC: How important is the Canadian market to the company?

Sinha: In terms of the Canadian market, it is a developed economy with deep digital transformation that has happened. But with digital transformation, you have security issues. Security is like a tax to your digital economy. Whether it is nation-state actors, whether it is a bored teenager sitting in the basement and swinging the middle finger to large corporation, you could have many different scenarios. Businesses have to be ready for all scenarios to ensure that their services are up all up and running.

At the end of the day, digital economies’ success depends upon digital trust. Digital trust means that whenever I go to a business to access services, those services are up and running, otherwise I lose trust. Having data integrity, cyber recovery and cyber resilience helps businesses enhance and enforce their cyber trust and service their customers better.

ITWC: How big of a game changer is the AI juggernaut in your mind?

Sinha: Computing is all about productivity gains, and GenAI is the next generation of a platform that is evolving around productivity gains. And we see a clear cut productivity gain for an IT operations team to do the cyber work without being an expert on cyber. As you know, in North America, there are  over a million cybersecurity jobs open and there are not enough trained people on cybersecurity to fill those jobs.

So how do you increase the productivity of the operations team so that they can do cyber work? That was our vision of bringing the IT operations team and security operations teams together on a common platform.

We built Ruby, which is the generative AI companion for our Rubrik security cloud. And it helps the IT operations team identify a malware or a threat, is able to do threat hunting, quarantining, and do a successful cyber recovery, using a natural language interface where you do not have to know the nitty gritty of cybersecurity.

ITWC: The company history is an interesting one. How did it come about?

Sinha: As a venture capitalist, I always believed in going after a market that the cool kids were not paying attention to, which essentially means that you want to bet on a non-consensus market. If everybody knows that this market is going to be lucrative, there will be a lot of companies getting started, which means that the value creation will get diluted.

The cool kids were not thinking about backup and recovery. And there was an opportunity to reframe, re-platform backup and recovery into a data security platform to deliver cyber resilience.

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