Rubrik, the fast-growing cloud data management company, has hired Cisco Systems veteran Wendy Bahr as chief commercial officer. Bahr is responsible for Rubrik's MSP, Global System Integrator and Channel Partners, Hardware and Software Alliances, Inside Sales and Professional Services teams, the company disclosed this morning.

Rubrik has seen exponential growth since launching in 2014. As of late 2018 or so, the company had more than 1,200 employees and was nearing a $300 million bookings run rate, the company said at the time. Key investors in the company, which is gearing up for an IPO, include former Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers.

Rubrik launched a channel program in late 2018 but the company has more work to do in terms of educating and building mindshare across multiple ecosystems. Plus, the company faces potential competition from a range of entrenched rivals and upstarts -- including such names as CohesityDattoDruva, and Veeam.

Bahr gives Rubrik instant global credibility in the IT channel. She previously led Cisco's worldwide partner initiatives, and also spent multiple years researching and leading new routes to market for the networking giant.

Bahr exited Cisco in 2018, took some time off, and now digs in at Rubrik. In an email interview with ChannelE2E, Bahr offered these perspectives on her career move and key priorities at Rubrik.

Q&A: Rubrik's Wendy Bahr

ChannelE2E: When did you first hear about the Rubrik opportunity, and what inspired you to join the company?

Bahr: As I was considering life after Cisco, I was very interested in potentially consulting or working for a start-up.  In doing my research and talking with partners it was clear that one of the biggest opportunities in Enterprise was in disrupting the $48B data management market.

Cloud adoption has accelerated and companies are moving  toward a hybrid cloud mindset, it’s become really clear that legacy solutions in the marketplace cannot provide enterprises with the agility and flexibility they need to be successful. Rubrik’s cloud data management platform is serving a massive unmet need in the enterprise; it’s offering customers a simple solution to manage and protect data and applications across on premise and hybrid cloud environments and this is driving its incredible growth.

Experience has taught me that successful organizations put their customers and partners first, and it’s clear to me that Rubrik has done just that over the past five years. This mentality is part of the company’s DNA. The co-founders built Rubrik’s platform based on customer feedback and it has gone to market 100% through the channel since day one.

So the more I learned the more excited I became.  Few companies have innovated and executed better than Rubrik over the past five years and I joined to help continue that success at global scale so we become the next B2B technology powerhouse.

ChannelE2E: Although cloud storage, data protection, business continuity and related markets are growing very rapidly, they are also crowded markets. What do you think makes Rubrik unique in the sector?

Bahr: There’s certainly a great deal of interest in this space and with good reason. There’s been a drought of innovation when it comes to how data is backed up and managed over the past decade, while the actual amount of data is exploding exponentially.

Rubrik disrupted a legacy environment and has simplified the entire data cloud management model. Basically, Rubrik and our partners help our customers in four key areas: simplification of data protection, providing significant reductions in cost, providing agility in a hybrid cloud environment and finally an API-first architecture to orchestrate and automate self-recovery.  This is a key opportunity for our partners to provide significant services to integrate Rubrik and drive automation and orchestration projects.

Rubrik’s entire global organization is designed to continuously collect, measure and evolve based on our customers and partners feedback.

ChannelE2E: What are your first priorities for the first 30 to 90 days or so?

Bahr: At Cisco my priority was listening to Partners, Customers and Employees to understand their view of the landscape and how we should continue to innovate and evolve.  That will remain constant in this role.

In my first quarter with Rubrik, much of my time will be spent understanding our Ecosystems experience with Rubrik, what do they love, what can we improve and how can we accelerate growth together.

I am also going to take time to focus on internal alignment among our GTM functions from Sales to Alliances to Channel and Services to ensure that we are properly aligned to continue our explosive growth.