Last week, Rubrik hosted its 5th Annual Hackathon. In the past, this meant that the entire Engineering Org would all get together off site so we could easily share ideas and collaborate. This year, like everything else, the hackathon was transformed to be fully-virtual in order to fit the new normal of the socially distanced world we’re now living in. Hackathons are intended to spur innovation, and this year the event itself innovated and adapted to the challenges du jour, generating outstanding participation, ideation, and creativity.

What Is the Rubrik Hackathon?

Before going into details around this year’s event, I’d like to share what the hackathon means to us at Rubrik. I think this message from my good friend and Rubrik’s first-ever Sales Engineer Eric Chang sums it up pretty well:

Hackathon day is my favorite day of the year. Even though we were stuck at home, I really enjoyed this. Thank you all!

Our hackathon serves many purposes. For starters, it has been an innovation lab for products and infrastructure improvements that have translated into real-world revenue for the company and productivity gains for us engineers. To name a few, the seeds of Polaris GPSRansomware Recovery, and Cloud Native Protection were all planted at Rubrik hackathons. Introducing Bazel to Rubrik and adopting it as our build system was also kick started during a hackathon.

Each year, the hackathon is a chance for engineers to hit pause on the startup grind and take some time to reflect, explore, and experiment. We deliberately encourage employees to work on areas outside their expertise to both bring fresh perspective and grow as engineers. Whether the project is an off-the-wall moon shot or a practical item from their backlog that could boost the efficiency of the entire org, everyone is empowered to work on whatever they think they will enjoy.

Finally, the hackathon is a time when we come together and have fun. It’s a great opportunity to work with folks outside our normal teams and build relationships with those we otherwise might not have. While it’s usually in-person on bean bags or bonding over arcade games, we still found ways to get creative and stay connected. This year, we hosted a virtual escape room and a fireside chat with Enrique Salem, Partner at Bain Capital and former CEO of Symantec, as well as one of our board members.

Hackathon 2020

Although entirely virtual, we maintained the 24-hour format of years past, and hosted a large, persistent “main Zoom room.”  We used the main room to make announcements, host guest speakers, and hold other communal events like the virtual escape room and group yoga. Smaller breakout rooms were created so that teams could meet and work together privately.

This year, 250 participants across 61 teams submitted 45 hacks. Note that not each idea turns into a submission; that’s okay. A lot of the value is created on the journey and not completely in the destination. Each team is given 5 minutes to explain their project to a panel of judges. Participating as a judge is open to anyone at Rubrik, and we randomly assign panels to projects to ensure every project gets the same number of views and is free from bias.  

Based on judging, we select the top 10 projects. This year included a wide range of ideas, including:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication leveraging Apple’s biometric technology Touch ID on Macbook/Watch
  • Real-time phishing detection in O365 Mailbox
  • A framework for helping customers and Rubrik support more easily troubleshoot field issues

We crown one overall winning team whose name is emblazoned on the Rubrik Hacker’s Cup, as well as two honorable mentions for Most Innovative and Most Impactful.  

And the Winners Are…

Best In Show: SKYFALL

Congratulations to team SKYFALL!!!

Project: Leveraged the existing Polaris backup data protection infrastructure to provide a comprehensive cloud DR solution.

Team members: Andrew Draper, Damani Norman, and Peter Milanese

Most Innovative: Blueshift

Project: A novel approach to VM restore, which demonstrated latency improvements over 100x.

Team members: Ben Meadowcroft, Disheng Su, Li Ding, Roman Konarev, Samir Chaudhry, Shirong Wu, Tianpei Zhang, and Wendy Wang

Most Impactful: Cloud Cost Advisor

Project: A feature to help customers project and manage their cloud costs based on configured backup policies and historical patterns in their datasets.

Team members: Aman Bansal, Anant Mahajan, Aryan Indraksh, Harshad Parekh, and Nirvan Singhania.

And That’s a Wrap

This year was truly amazing in terms of collaboration and innovation–completely remote, no less!

It always strikes me how impressively the teams are able to, in less than 24 hours, leverage Rubrik in new ways to create such wow moments.  It’s both a testament to the on the spot ingenuity as well as the sustained work we’ve all put in over the years to build up a foundational data management platform.

A big thank you to all the participants and a HUGE thank you to the organizers who made the event a reality this year!

Interested in joining our world-class engineering team? Check out our open positions here.