Episode 95

PacketFabric: Network-as-a-Service helping manage networks of the future

  • Tony Safoian

    CEO, SADA

  • Dave Ward

    CEO, PacketFabric

Transparency, speed, flexibility, and ease are not typical terms you would use to explain networks made up of bare-metal and Software Defined Networks (SDN). PacketFabric aims to change that by offering Network as a Service, built on Google Cloud. PacketFabric, a SADA partner, connects colocation, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud on flexible terms in minutes. In this Cloud N Clear, we hear from PacketFabric CEO, Dave Ward. Dave has a history of innovation, engineering networks at organizations like Cisco and Juniper. However, in Dave’s new role he is leading, not engineering. Dave shares his journey and transition from engineer to CEO with host, Tony Safoian, CEO, SADA. As well as discussing Network as a Service and how it will help architect the networks of the future.

Host: Tony Safoian, CEO, SADA
Guest: Dave Ward, CEO, PacketFabric

Connect on Twitter:

Connect on LinkedIn:

Transcript

Ton Safoian [00:00:13] All right, welcome to Cloud N Clear, one of our newer customers, partners, I can say that, and someone that’s building something extremely unique using Google Cloud to help do that. And, you know, we love talking about these stories on Cloud N Clear. So please, ever. To Dave Ward, he’s the CEO of PacketFabric

 

David Ward [00:00:41] Hey, thanks, Tony, really happy to be here and love me some clout and love to talk about it and plus how to get there with the network. So I’m really excited for this conversation. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:00:51] You’ve been in a space for a long time, and I always like to talk about when I have a guest, so their story, their history, how they kind of got to the role that the company that they’re currently in. And, you know, doing my research a little bit, I see that, you know, you have a deep-rooted history in networking with Cisco and Juniper and Cisco again. And, you know, I’d love to talk about that journey because I think in the era that you were in those places, that was some of the most groundbreaking work being done in all of tech…you without that ground breaking work, there would be no cloud, so I’m just really curious about that journey over the last decade-plus in those two super exciting companies and how that shaped your career. 

 

David Ward [00:01:44] You know, that sounds great, because you can’t get to cloud without a network. And I’m one of those true dyed-purple networking geeks. I love me some network. So. So let me tell you a bit about it. So I actually, even before Cisco, worked at a startup that was acquired by Ascend Communications, if folks remember that and then I decided to leave Ascend, I went to a startup consulting group called the Internet Engineering Group that built routing protocol software, system design, and kernel work and forwarding work for basically all the networking startups in the late 90s and on December 17th, 1999 at three fifty, three fifteen p.m…although, who’s counting. We were acquired by Cisco and that was a Friday afternoon. And we had worked in the past on designing a number of these big systems. And on December 20th, on Monday I drove up to Building 10, which is Cisco’s executive building, and there was a blond-haired guy with a Southern drawl out front with his hands stuck out. That was John Chambers. And he said, hey, you know, welcome to Cisco and come on in. Let me introduce you to the gang. Well, the gang was all the was the CTO, the chief science officer, all the distinguished engineers and fellows that basically were my idols. I mean, I was in my late 20s at the time and they had built all this equipment and he handed me a dry erase marker and said, draw the design of our next core router, turned to the crowd and said, let’s see what we paid for and walked out of the room. And so I like to tell that story because look, that’s the way technology actually gets built, people who are given a chance and people who have had experience and ideas in this area. And at Cisco in that first round, I was a designer of IOS XR, which is their service provider operating system, the CRS 1, 3, 10, the ASR 9000, worked on the ASR 1000, basically all the optical and big iron kit. And, you know, actually, this sounds strange to me, but I just kind of got bored of building routers to a certain degree after building 24 or so in a row and throughout my career. So I decided to go over to Juniper, where I’ve got a lot of life friends and a great company and worked with, you know, the beginning of the next generation of Junos and help build the PTX and a number of ASX. And they’re working with Pradeep Sindhu, who’s one of the founders of Juniper, was kind of the really beginning the discussion of software-defined networking, at Stanford with Nick McKewon and Martin Casado. And coming out of Gates 104, that’s the famous building in the room that the SDN Group would meet weekly on Stanford campus. And although we have built a number of programable interfaces into IOS XR at Cisco and into Junos, it was not really the way that that networking devices and networking was done at that time. It was still was very much a traditional IT stack. And so now I’m going to move through the second stage of Cisco. When John asked me to come back to the Cisco, he said, hey, Dave, look, there’s this sudden threat out there and what are we going to do about it? What’s your strategy? As that was kind of one of his interview questions if you want to think of it that way, although we’re long-time friends. And I said, look, John, I really think you’re thinking about SDN incorrectly. It’s not a threat that’s going to really make networking less important. If your customers can program the network faster and get more bandwidth and more traffic on that to solve the problems they want to, you’re selling more ports. And so in my, and so the light bulb went off and flip, there goes Cisco’s strategy over to let’s make it programable. So in the second stance worked on the operating systems to open up programable interfaces, but look, let’s face it, when you’re talking about the, with the emergence of cloud at the same time, the ability to easily dial up CPU and RAM and storage. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:05:46] Oh yeah. 

 

David Ward [00:05:46] And this model of you’re only paying for what you use, that still didn’t exist in networking and traditional, whether they’re telcos or cable companies or otherwise, they had legacy stacks of software that were almost incompatible with real-time on-demand and with this new business model. So, look, I pushed and I pushed and working with a system integrator and a great vendor like Cisco, you have to work with your customers for them to believe to get into the business that you’re talking about, for them to then use your equipment to be in that business. And that takes a very, very long time. And you can probably tell by the pace that I speak, I’m a pretty impatient guy and the industry wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted to or where I wanted it to go, which really is where I am now, a PacketFabric, which is a cloud-native Network-as-a-Service platform, abstracting away the network where you can real-time on-demand, dial-up connectivity into the cloud. Its API driven so solution delivery partners can integrate your API and build a better productivity-as-a-service solution. And not only is it that technology disruption, it’s that business disruption of pay for what you use, short term, even pay for only the volume that you send across it. So in some, I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is and all the work that I’ve tried to do by building up the kit and building up the operating systems and then the tools. But now now I decided to build a company and work and join a company that that’s building this technology specifically. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:07:21] Isn’t that interesting that no one sort of immune from being disrupted after a certain amount of time, like some of the success of whoever arguably creates a market? Becomes exactly what holds them back and, you know. Maybe even exposed to the impending disruption they may or may not see, and even if they see, they may not be able to execute fast enough to get ahead. Isn’t that just fascinating about our industry? 

 

David Ward [00:07:52] Everything every aspect of the different facets of innovator’s dilemma are are just outstanding issues because they become the stalling points of of a bit of a company, then potentially of a business, but then of the industry. And all of a sudden you need a disruption by an entrepreneur or just a different vector coming in to be able to fundamentally move the industry forward. I, I like to think that Network-as-a-Service is here for the, for to…really enable a programable Internet. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:08:25] Right. 

 

David Ward [00:08:25] That’s really what we’re talking about. The Internet is a beautiful thing. You know, I poured my soul into building the equipment underneath it and trying to build out this great communications network that we have. But it’s not programable you can’t get from the Internet what you want from it. That’s why you need Network-as-a-Service, and that’s why you need APIs on top of more than just a device. But actually across the end-to-end, between data centers, between clouds, between SaaS providers, you know, onto Google cloud storage providers, et cetera, security providers. Those all become, you know, really that modern way of doing enterprise IT, which frequently is just reduced down to “digital transformation.”. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:09:12] Right, broad term, generic. Yeah.

 

David Ward [00:09:16] It’s a nice tagline. But in effect, every aspect of enterprise IT architecture is being disrupted. We know that this notion of a campus, really, you know, we’ve just gone through 2020, and we know that employees aren’t going to campus. So the existing architecture of drag-up, assumes all the employees are there or drag all the traffic to an enterprise campus, build a moat around it or security services, and that becomes an enterprise’s entree onto Internet-based services. That model’s done, right?. We know that all the applications are driven out of different clouds and we know that workloads are going multi-cloud. And so, therefore, that “digital disruption” also moves itself towards can, can the industry deliver IT as a service or I’m going to take it one step forward, productivity as a service, which is access to all the tools you need to run your business, of which Network-as-a-Service is a foundational piece of that and perhaps the last bit of infrastructure to join that party. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:10:15] Yeah, so fascinating. So so in that journey, I mean, what’s interesting about your role now is that you’re truly an engineer, like an engineer’s engineer who evolved through a series of experiences at startups and the largest enterprises on the planet. And now you’re an engineer turned CEO. Not everyone takes that kind of transition, right?. 

 

David Ward [00:10:43] It it is been a fascinating experience, full of sleepless nights and a massive amount of anxiety, I have to tell you the truth. But let me explain it this way, Tony, and you know this. In your role as a CEO, you’re out of excuses. There’s no there’s nobody else who made a decision that that you were stuck with. You are you’re at the top. It’s for me, thankfully, in the company that I’m in, it’s actually not a lonely job. I have the founders Anna Claiboune and Jezzibell Gilmore are are just outstanding and supportive. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:11:17] Oh, amazing. Rock star female founders, by the way. 

 

David Ward [00:11:20] Oh, they’re unbelievable. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:11:22] And they were just the intern with Google Cloud. I think it was Carolee Gearhart who posted about something they were doing with Google Cloud around this, you know, Women’s International Women’s Month and Day. And I was like, wow, these are rock stars over here that founded this company. And I want to talk to David. I was excited. 

 

David Ward [00:11:45] Well, the look Anna and Jezzibell are more than just rock stars. They are superior at their positions. They are just fantastic. And if any time I ever build a team in the future, I want those two women on it because they are they’re just fantastic. But additionally, look, the way the company was found in the technology because it was a technology-first company, which as an engineer naturally made me even more than normal, gravitate towards my target zone of the technology. But because Anna is so strong as a leader leading our product in engineering and because the company was founded technology first, I actually didn’t have to go in and start mucking around or needing to to to to mess with the technology whatsoever. The team had a great handle on it. What I wanted to do was pivot towards a channel and partner relationship, something I learned from Cisco and something that just straight, straight business that, look a startup can never build the direct sales force and direct sales, go to market motion alone and actually make the impact and growth that they need to. And so I pivoted us to a channel partner reseller type model. And that’s how that’s what we got to know each other and brought in really as a CEO, realizing I don’t have a ton of a long-standing sales experience brought in the talent that did. And so, as you know, Tony, the way you measure a leader is really, are they good enough to bring in talent for their own weaknesses and support, support the areas that they aren’t strong in? 

 

Tony Safoian [00:13:24] For sure. 

 

David Ward [00:13:24] That’s what I’ve been focusing on now. We’re all blind to a lot of our weaknesses. But if you can admit to some, you know, you can make some progress. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:13:33] You know, I admire that. You know, this set of founders started this company six years ago and at some point they brought in a CEO. I think that’s admirable. I think it portrays a strong level of self-awareness. And I think from what I can tell, it’s actually sort of a match made in heaven based on your experience. And the company seems to be doing really, really well. And I want to understand at the stage sort of the investment on the Google Cloud side and the GCP partnership, both from the technology standpoint but also obviously from partnership, go to market, et cetera. But, oh, what sort of drove PacketFabric to invest on, you know, building on top of GCP?

 

David Ward [00:14:27] So really, we have. We built our Network-as-a-Service platform because that’s the intellectual property the company, is really a SaaS platform and we needed, of course, what GCP offers: regional redundancy, full scale-out as large as we need to go. We have a platform now that, you know, although we’re only in 186 pops or so. And yes, we’ve created partnerships with other telcos. We can scale out because of our use of GCP to be able to manage and orchestrate the world’s largest telecoms and the world’s largest cable companies. And so it was instantaneous scaling, enabling us to have the performance that we needed, enable us the redundancy we needed. And frankly, GCP has been a great partner for us to build that product on top of because all the services and tools were there for us to use. And so then when we were looking, look, there’s other companies like us that need to build their businesses out of the cloud or need to run their businesses out of the cloud. What does, and I mentioned earlier about the channel partner piece, what does that mean? Who can we work with that can also help other companies follow our path or they can use us as a use case for carrying that forward? And that’s how we got to know each other.

 

Tony Safoian [00:15:44] Yeah, no, I think the timing of our engagement was really fortunate with us finally building, I think the infrastructure around this broad vision we’ve had for a long time, but just not the infrastructure to run alliances in a proper way, like all of our customers who run on GCP that want to partner more closely around things beyond great technology and great support and great account management and all of that. I think the timing was quite, quite perfect. And you’re one of our first handful of alliance partners and we’re really excited about it. And we really like Google’s view on this. And we’re really following their lead, which is they want to be they don’t want to be in everybody’s business. They want to be in your business. They want to enable businesses like yours and be the de facto node like bar none, best choice for every other SaaS company, platform company, enterprise software company, every ISV, whatever ISV server an outdated term. But and I think we’re seeing because of case studies like this, we’re getting proof points now as to why, you know, Google is the best choice for for for companies like PacketFabric. And we have, you know, several in the pipeline. And I think that’s a very interesting angle. It’s not like what business is this cloud vendor really in or are they really going to encroach on my space? It’s very much like, hey, we want to be the scaffolding and the the the tooling, but you build the building like we’re not going to build your building. We’re not going to be in, you know, the CRM space. I mean, like, you know, so it’s really nice that they have this market view. And when Thomas Kurian and Rob Enslin talk about it, it’s really incredible. You,  it it sounds like, yeah!, that’s, I get that strategy. 

 

David Ward [00:17:41] I do. And also one thing that Google also does well as they are focusing on many of the verticals that we are as well. So they have a really best meeting entertainment business. I threw my Cisco career and and brought that also now to PacketFabric. We some folks have ties directly into the rendering aspects and the shoot to cloud and the transcoding and different pieces where, look, these are tools that are needed in their trade for certain verticals. And where when I look to focus on my verticals, I look to see, look, where can I take them, what what know what alliances, what partnerships do I have that I know can solve these problems. And yeah, that’s really the way business works. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:18:24] No, totally, I think the vertical approach is is inevitable, you know, as a product or go to market organization matures, I think at some point to tackle the largest of customers. It’s imperative that we speak to them in their language and understand their business. We started building that kind of capability a couple of years ago as well. And health care, media, entertainment, retail, financial services, just very, very important. And but we also consider PacketFabric as part of the SaaS vertical, digital native vertical, so that’s something that is is an interesting way to look at this class of customers. But your needs are quite unique. And I think we want to continue to be purpose built to to be the best MSP that you guys can have supporting you and your in your Google cloud journey. I want to ask you about the future a little bit, we’ve just gone through a whole year of a bunch of uncertainty. Certainly the beginning, like this time last year was like, holy, what’s going on, what’s going to happen? Right, a lot of panic. And then, you know, you have this historical context, 10, 20 years of just seeing, you know, every other wave, right? of every paradigm shift in recent computing history. And we’ve gone through this period where we did suspect some of us did, and I have myself in a recording when I was speaking to our whole company in March when I said, I believe this will accelerate parts of the digital journey. For our customers, yes, there will be this uncertainty period, but and I think 12 months later, like we’ve seen a bunch of that acceleration, I’m sure you’ve seen of that acceleration. What do you think that’s going to do in terms of carrying forward? And what do you think, from our standpoint, our joint standpoint, what is the new normal going to look like and how is it going to what is it going to demand of us? 

 

David Ward [00:20:38] So look, what I what I see in front of us is not only, as I alluded to earlier, that full enterprise productivity stack transformation. And, and the reason why I want to focus on that for a second is, look, we need productivity, security, UC, collaboration, storage. We need all sorts of these. And then, of course, we need analytics and development platforms and on and on to move these businesses forward. What? That was the conversation of get to cloud five years ago, and then it was OK, I removed part of my business to cloud. Now, like, those conversations aren’t even in discussion anymore. It’s how can I move and transform my entire business forward? And so the reason why I mention this, to answer your question first, is that notion of owning and managing and operating your own IT stacked your full business stack, I think is all moving to as a service. Look, the, the first wave of this we’ve we kind of went through, let’s say, right before the pandemic a couple of years before and into the pandemic of DIY, where folks were willing to take bits and pieces and move it. DIY is only for folks beyond the, right at the tip of the spear or beyond the tip of the spear. And now that it’s mainstream, there is a massive amount of business and a massive amount of for us and for for others like us or in the market size. But really what’s needed is tying these pieces together in very much a turnkey manner and, and delivering how to how to establish, build, run and transform a business to run fully out of the cloud and fully, remotely. And I say this because who knows how many people will be going back to campus in the near future. But we know it’s fewer than it was, without a doubt. And so we know that any amount of hybrid on campus, off campus or remote working just necessitates the need to have the employee experience and work-life fully established and set up on-demand at all times. And so as we step forward and we talked about a number of verticals that have some specific needs of media & entertainment, healthcare, fintech, retail and on, but in essence IT has been expressed into the cloud. We do realize that things become geographic, regional. There are different services and capabilities that are just required to build these pieces out. And so, as you and I both work with, let’s say, GCP and the discussion of multi-cloud workflows, they’re really just multi geographic data center workflows where you need to either follow the sun or you need a certain amount of compute storage, GPU, et cetera, out of out of a different region or another. That is where the future really is in making this very, very easy to be able to do. Now, and now, because I’m a networking geek, I’m going to talk in networking terms for a second, if I need to move from, you know, an enterprise into the cloud, often you just get a direct Internet access link. And if you need to get to another region, you have another direct Internet access link or if you need to go to a private data center operator because you’re in a hybrid cloud environment, ok, you know, you’ve got another DIA link there. Moving data between these regions in these data centers creates a trombone of traffic, which gets very expensive, is very time consuming. It’s and it’s frankly unnecessary from a networking point of view and moving data directly between these regions, between these between these pieces is something that we do very well because of the fabric nature that we have. And so as enterprises fully express themselves into the cloud and into multi region and multiple geographies, the management then of where the data is located, how to have the replication high availability, how to have the sharding of data such that it’s, you know, you’re OK through disasters, et cetera, becomes a very, very key point of management that tech companies like yours and mine actually can handle. So I’m to go back to that, that age ‘ol that that cliche I gave you a few minutes ago, which was if this is not the intellectual property of your business to the end customer, owning, managing, operating, engineering with these details, come to us. Because that’s what we do. And insert key turn. And we’ve got a really, really simple to use easy solution that basically solves those problems. So you don’t have to, you know, spend the money, find the tech and talent and find the resources and maintain and support your own resources for now and ever more into the future, because that’s the new that’s the new solution. That’s a new way of doing business. Get it all as a service and allow folks who are the super geeks to do what they do really well and enable other people to do the business that they do really well. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:25:39] That now makes, makes complete sense. I mean, I remember that dozens and dozens of customers we had they couldn’t deal with the rapid shift to work from home in March. They just their networks were not built for it. Identity and security strategy would not. Like VPNs and stuff like that. Still, so pervasive endpoint security is like it was built for 10 percent of capacity. Right. And we had public sector customers, large enterprises all sort of falling down. And I think they’ve all kind of learned their lesson and hence the acceleration on some of the other productivity tools. But then, you know, core applications and how all of that is routed to to the people, their employees and the customers, wherever they are, is just going to be. The view and the architecture is going to look different, I think, moving forward probably forever. And I think that’s great for you guys and great for us. And and these are these are things that would have probably evolved to anyway. But I think we just had a five year, 10 year compression. 

 

David Ward [00:26:47] I do to. The gas pedal was stomped on on this transformation and on and on this move that you and I have been chatting about, you know, today, this move towards this isn’t, this isn’t core to my business, in old core context business language. And, and that is core to our business and what we both do very, very well. And so, again, let us do that. And, you know, you get back to running your business and we’ll set up the model that’s going to be most efficient to make it happen. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:27:15] Pivoting a little bit, so we’re both CEOs, our companies are growing, you know, with regards to culture at PacketFabric. And how, you know, your view of like the contribution that you want to bring in and instill in the organization as you grow and add more employees and headcount, et cetera, things get more complex. People are now distributed. Culture is sorta of more important than ever. What are the elements that you love and admire from the larger environments that you worked in and learn to operate successfully in, like Juniper and Cisco, that you love and you want to instill in a place like PacketFabric? And then what are the things that you want to do completely differently? 

 

David Ward [00:28:04] So it it’s tough to say whether I learned or and this is me rebelling against my big corporate background or me embracing it. So so let me tell a bit story. Look, one thing that I am I absolutely instill into the company is operational excellence. So there’s no doubt I’m a numbers person. And so I want to be very, very efficient in the way we use resources and the way we think about where we’re moving as a company. And what I mean by that is I do want to know what is the cost to build a new product. And I do want to analyze and understand the return. And that might sound like business 101, but in startups and in high tech, there’s very much a build it and they will come attitude. And you know what? You can build it. But unless you plan the sales marketing and you understand who you’re going to you going to work with and who are customers and partners are going to be, they might not show up in Silicon Valley is got heaps of startups that made that mistake of really not running the business efficiently and focusing on operational excellence. OK, so that certainly came out of my big corporate background and also just personal nature. But when I came to PacketFabric, one of the cultural, the biggest cultural value when I walked in the door and something that is very important to me was transparency. I do actually believe that the more the employees know about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, where everybody is going. People are adults. People are professionals. And like you, we only hire the best we can possibly bring into the company. And I have full faith and respect for my employees that I can give them information and talk to them about things where we’re going and projectors were going and they know not to sell the vision if it’s too far out. And so what’s on the truck just from a simple sales point of view, but also that they deserve to know where we’re taking the company, why we’re taking it there, why we’re doing the pivot. And I talk about it weekly with the company. We’ve got a number of and have created a number of cultural companies get together points. And some of them are official and some of them are not official, whether it’s start off Monday morning with the all hands. And we actually talk about how the company is doing a new products coming out, a new builds. We’re going to do, et cetera, and celebrate accomplishments in wins and things like this to getting together and being able to have open conversations about the products we’re building, how they work, what the customers really need from them between the field and our inner engineers. Which is something I wanted to bring that didn’t happen in some of the big companies that I worked at, that in fact bringing that customer view, that outside in view, and having our engineering and products led by our customers and partners absolutely was something I wanted to bring to the company and keep going. And then, of course, we celebrate and get together for four quick, you can call them happy hours or whatever, and we actually have different employees host them. So we’ve had everything from DJ lessons to cooking lessons to farming lessons. And it’s really fun because individuals get to express themselves and win like us when you’re one hundred percent remote and always have been remote. Meaning we don’t have two employees that go to the same physical location for work anywhere on the planet and never. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:31:24] Oh, you’ve always been that. You’ve always been that way. 

 

David Ward [00:31:27] Yeah, ever since day one has been one hundred percent remote. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:31:29] Wow. The only other company I know that talks about that openly is the GiLab folks. Yeah. And quite amazing. 

 

David Ward [00:31:39] And look, I loved Cisco where I went into work every single day and I was at my desk, you know, 6:00 a.m. in the morning. And I was there till till till late in the evening just because look at Cisco the sun never sets on the offices of Cisco. So I’ve got folks from Israel to India. So that was morning to night. And here we have folks all across the planet as well. But I was actually nervous because I’m very I very much need to connect with the people that are at the company. I very much want to like everybody. And look, if it’s not a good cultural fit, then people can can be successful in another company. But we are not going to have this situation where there’s going to be toxicity or there’s drama or a policy or these things because we don’t have time for it. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:32:24] No, no brilliant jerks, that’s for sure. 

 

David Ward [00:32:28] No need to hire jerks. But to accomplish that really is very open purpose and it takes activity and it takes effort to have open communication between groups. And look that also during the pandemic, how can you avoid the Zoom burnout or just the overall burnout of these videoconference meetings? And so we had to very much work out that balance and work out the balance of how to have clear, transparent, open communication, but stepping forward the way that we overcame the burnout fatigue of video conference calls is by actually bringing in both in HR platform where because we’re very OKR driven as well as some of the other support tools that are necessary, including this is pretty straightforward program management tools and project management tools to find the dependencies between the groups of people. And once you’re able to link, because we grew from 40 something people in March of 2020 to now over one 140 people about a year later, you’re creating not only a new culture, you’re creating new dependencies upon people you don’t know. And those ties need to be the strongest ties in the company. And so you can do that with some programmatic activities. As you know very well, as a CEO, which you need to do with communication and trust pathways. And I’m very, very big on enabling responsibility and holding accountability. And so and my number one thing is every team has to be able to predict themselves. We’ve hired professionals. The definition for me of being a professional is being able to predict your own capabilities and the capabilities of your team. If you’re a leader on cost, on resources, on time, on effort, and then of course, on quality. And so with the ability and constantly working because nobody’s perfect on all of those, constantly working towards those different pieces of being able to predict how things are going to turn out, you then can have teams and enable teams to trust each other. And that trust factor in that open communication, trust or trust factor becomes the way that you can avoid gang meetings, decisions by committee, analysis-paralysis, and allow people to, you know, first time for sports metaphor for people to play their position. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:34:48] Yeah, yeah. No, that dedication to operational rigor, super, super important. I do agree that the big companies do it well. Sometimes that’s all they do. And, you know, that’s why you lose the magic. So you need a good combination of qualitative and quantitative, but without the quantitative, you just can’t scale. And I agree. I think there’s Tombstone’s, not the good kind, but the ones that are like all the companies that blew an opportunity, like the one we’re experiencing, I think, in this era of tech, technological sort of quantum leap evolution of…they blew this moment, you know, and it was sort of because of lack of rigor. And I also believe that as I look at our 21-year history now, self-funded, services a little different than sort of SaaS product companies journey. But, I always want to feel like…we don’t want to take ourselves out of the game, you know, we want to do it sort of like it’s really in our own hands in terms of how well we execute in this period of time. And we ourselves are trying to get better about being able to measure things that are very, very important. 

 

David Ward [00:36:02] And for me, look, you, as I mentioned and I’ll say this really clearly, trust is very important to me and enabling people is equally important. But you enable people who you trust and you enable people you know you can trust because what they say they can do, they do when they deliver and they deliver with excellence. And, you know, that doesn’t mean I’m just hiring, you know, people with decades and decades of experience because, look, I need some energy, I need some activity, I need some vigor in the group. So that also means that you need to bring along people and create a mold of the way that interaction, enablement, trust, responsibility is to be held and respected within a company in between groups. And I am absolutely I’m one hundred percent cultural value, really based upon enabling folks to have a great opportunity to be able to hit it out of the park to help them when there are issues that that maybe they need decisions to be made or they need additional support or additional resources and check-ins, but then really let them shine and in particular enable the entire team to have success, that that really becomes nothing, nothing activates a company in an employee base and teams within that company better than success. And as you know, Tony, success breeds success once you get on that train. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:37:23] Oh, yeah. And I think exceptional people attract other exceptional people. And I think once you get the core culture going and understand the fit and you’re able to recruit talent that amazes you even which I’m sure you’re experiencing now is like, oh, my God, these people want to work here. It’s amazing that the way that cascades out is super important. And so we do spend also a lot of time on that and also making sure our managers are good managers. I think a lot of organizations, as they scale, they become weak in the middle. People get promoted to management roles are not prepared for, they don’t even want. And now people like they love the company but don’t like their manager and they leave. And, you know, all of us want people to not you know, some people might leave eventually, but not for those reasons. We want them to leave for the right reasons. 

 

David Ward [00:38:12] Tony, the last thing I wanted to mention that I wanted to separate it from the other topics because it is so important and that actually is a discussion on diversity. So it’s not diversity for me is a diversity of thought and a great company and a great engineering team and a high tech company needs a lot of different viewpoints. And to create a diversity of thought, you need a diversity of people, whether it’s gender, its beliefs, religion, creed or any aspect that brings in differentiation in new ideas is the lifeblood of a tech company and as a lifeblood of… 

 

Tony Safoian [00:38:48] Competitive advantage. Yeah, I completely agree. 

 

David Ward [00:38:52] And so everybody, you know, in PacketFabric does not come from the same mold, you know, do you have a PhD from insert your insert the top university in the US or on the planet in electrical engineering and networking or something. Instead, it’s a very diverse group of different talents because look at that, that is our lifeblood and that is what allows different views of the same problem to come up with a better solution than a gang of people, all with the same experiences looking at that problem. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:39:25] I could not agree more, and I think it’s it’s even new in my mind that I’ve learned just in the last maybe three to five years that it’s important to be intentional about creating an inclusive and diverse organization. It’s not inevitable that that happens. It’s intentional that gets us there. And, you know, I’m proud of the leaps we’ve made as an organization, our maturity and our diversity. And I and I think it’s probably no accident that we’re also performing better than we ever have. And I completely believe that a more diverse team is a better performing team and a better place to work and a more creative environment and all of those things. So I’m glad I’m glad we’re the same mind because tech like our sector needs that. I mean, it helps PacketFabric was founded by amazing women, it helps. But that’s not the case everywhere. And I think we all have a role to play in creating a more diverse environment and inclusive environment in our in our industry. 

 

David Ward [00:40:33] What we’re seeing out of out of academia is that in…..just prove us both out that the more diverse a company is, the more powerful the more growth, the more revenue and and anything with your stock price or otherwise, it proves itself out that [INAUDIBLE]…creates a better business. 

 

Tony Safoian [00:40:55] Yeah, the data is there to support it, which is actually necessary for it to be sustainable because we can’t do it just because the market expects it or because our customers like it has to be something that proves it, proves ourselves out. And I think the data is there. And David has been a pleasure. I think that’s exactly the right type of telling it to to end our time together on. We could probably talk forever. I’m glad that we got to know each other a lot better in this segment. I know that I’m your advocate, friend, executive sponsor here at SADA as well. You can reach out to me any time for anything. And I really greatly value the trust and the partnership. And we’re here to do everything we can to make PacketFabric wildly successful. 

 

David Ward [00:41:38] Hey, thanks a lot, Tony. And together, my goal is to change the way the world does business and fundamentally change the Internet architecture towards the solutions that we provided with partners like you. And it’s been just a great conversation and great to get to know you, Tony. Thanks a ton. 

Tony Safoian [00:41:55] Cheers to that. Thank you for being my guest.

Google Cloud Logo Icon

THE GCP VS AWS DEBATE

We spoke to dozens of customers who shared their experiences with both cloud providers. The overwhelming trends tell a big story. Download the eBook to learn more.

Solve not just for today but for what's next.

We'll help you harness the immense power of Google Cloud to solve your business challenge and transform the way you work.

Scroll to Top