Ep. 533 w/ David Ngo CTO, Metallic at Commvault

Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show.

Today we have David.

No, he's the Ct o Metallic at Comal.

David, welcome to the.

David Ngo: Thank you
so much for having me.

I really appreciate it.

Yeah, I'm

Kevin Horek: excited to
have you on the show.

I think what you guys are doing at
Metallic and Kobalt are actually

really innovative and cool.

But maybe before we get into all that,
let's get to know you a little bit better

and start off with where you grew up.

David Ngo: Sure.

I am born and raised in New Jersey.

Oh, very cool.


Yeah, ironically enough just a few
miles from Kabul worldwide headquarters.



Kevin Horek: cool.

So walk us through, you went to
university, what did you take

David Ngo: and why?

Oh, yeah, great question.

Went to Rutgers University many years ago.

Way more than I liked to think about.

But I was an electrical engineer.

They didn't have computer
engineering at the time.


, but originally I wanted to go into
wireless communications of all things,

and so I was doing electrical engineering.


What got you

Kevin Horek: passionate
about that at an early age?

David Ngo: It's funny, I like to
sometimes like to say that engineers

are fundamentally lazy , right?

Because a, as an engineer,
what are you trying to do?

You're trying to make something
that is done repetitively or that

is boring or that is imperfect.

And sure you end up working super hard on
something to make things more convenient.

That's always something I always,
enjoyed figuring things out and

understanding how things worked and
fundamentally how to solve problems

in creative ways and in kind of new
ways that people hadn't considered.

And engineering always appealed
to me from that perspective.

Electrical engineering was always
something that was I thought was

really cool, especially with computers.

I've played with them
since I was a little kid.

And yeah, so it seemed
like a great way to go.

Kevin Horek: Very cool.

So you get outta university.

Walk us through your career in
getting to con because you've

worked your way up through the
ranks for a number of years There.

David Ngo: That's right.

So I've been in Convult
for, well over 24 years now.

And yeah, Kaul actually found me.


So at the time, yeah, funny story at the
time was the tech industry was crazy.

I was interviewing with all sorts of
companies and then this company, this

little company gives me a call and
says, Hey, we'd like to interview.

I'm like, oh, you're really close to
my, my, my home, right with my parents.

And so sure, I'll come home and go
interview with you also interview

I thought went really well.

Gave me a call back and I decided
to take a chance on this company

that did backup of all things, which
I had never really thought about.

I figured I'd be at Comal for a couple of
years, then move on to another company.

, we all can see how well
that plan worked out.

But happy to, I've spent
my career at Comal so far.



Kevin Horek: walk us through your
journey at Comal as well as how Combolt

is adapted over the last, 25 years
into what it is today and your role.

David Ngo: That's it's a
very interesting question.

I started at Convult as a developer
brought on at a time when we were just

re-architecting our core products.

We were building on some of our backup
experience to, to come out with a

new platform that would be able to
handle scale at, a thousand times

what we thought was viable at that.

, and as a brand new engineer, as a
brand new developer I was asked to

help design some of the subsystems
with assistance from a mentor.

About two months in, that mentor
left and I said okay, I'll keep

working on this stuff if I'm assuming
you're gonna get me another mentor.

And the VP of engineering said,
of course that never happened.

, the opportunities that were afforded
to me to really make a difference.

In terms of the type of work I was
doing was very significant, right?

It was very meaningful to me,
and I think that's been the

case throughout Kabul's history.

You asked about the evolution and
adaptation of Kaul over the years, and

I think Kabul has certainly evolved
from its roots as a spinoff of at

and t Bell Labs doing backup of just
a few things based on Unix at the.

To a global company today that really
focuses on what customers really need.

And I think that's really fueled our
transformation over the years, is we've

always focused on what customers need.

And as that's changed, so have we,
and we've been able to adapt to that.

And the latest kind of
incarnation of that is, is metal.

Kevin Horek: Okay.

Be before we dive into Metallica you have
some of the biggest brands on the planet

using your platform, but how Bec and.

Some of them, are very much on
the cutting edge of technology

and willing to adopt that.

Others are not in that space.

So how have you balanced giving
them what they need with also maybe

pushing their boundaries a little bit?

Staying current and making sure you
could, stay around for 25 years.

Because a lot of companies
can't say that these

David Ngo: days.

Yeah, that's true.

I think.

. Yeah.

That balance is always the trick,
which is what customers are asking

for and then what they really need.

Those are two different things, and
so looking at it's up to us, right?

That's our responsibility to be
able to shoot ahead of the target

and then anticipate what's coming.

Being able to understand
the trends in the industry.

Take those kind of to their natural
conclusion or the next step in evolution

and introduce that in a way that, not
only brings value to our customers now,

but also in the future and enables them
ultimately, we're an enabler, right?

From a data protection standpoint,
we're there to ensure that, they're

covered in case something happens no
matter what technology they adopt.

and the growth of data and the
different types of technology that

are out there require us to be on
the cutting edge of innovation.

Otherwise we can't serve our customers.

Kevin Horek: Nope.

Makes a lot of sense.

So how does metallic play
into everything here?

What exactly is it for our

David Ngo: listener?

A few years ago we looked at the state
of the market as we always do, and

it was evident to us that, cloud
adoption was accelerating, the adoption

of SaaS services was accelerating.

There was a crunch of of resources and
that customers were coming more and more

aware of things like external attack, like
attacks on their infrastructure and data.

We could not have
predicted the pandemic for.

Which really, accelerated that,
that was a massive push for

companies to adopt distributed
working technologies overnight.

The adoption of sas, the
adoption of cloud, that's

only been supercharged, right?

And so Conval has many years of
technology and best practices.

And what we did was we took.

And build and combine that
with the best of what customers

are looking at from SaaS.

Easy to try, easy to buy, easy to deploy,
and use scalable performance, secure.

And really with those two kind of
pillars of technology, we create creative

metallic metallic is our SaaS portfolio.

Of products at Conval, that's
part of our broader portfolio of

offerings, which include our software
of course as well as appliances.

And we like customers consume our
technology in any way that suits

them along their cloud journey.

And it all works together.

And as customers adopt SaaS technologies
in cloud they can choose to use metallic.

Along that transformative.

Kevin Horek: Okay and you don't have
to give cu a customer name, but can you

actually give us an example of maybe
like a typical kind of maybe type of

client and what services they would get
from Koal, whether it includes metallic

David Ngo: or not?

Yeah, absolutely.

And it's, I think this is common, right?

It's an extremely common scenario is that
You may have a customer or a company that

has been running its own data centers
and its own operations for a long time.

And with the adoption of or the
acceleration of cloud and SaaS

adoption that was demonstrated not
only to be viable, but also necessary

by the pandemic that they're looking
to take advantage of more and more.

Cloud-based resources that's also
driven by security concerns, right?

Today the prospect of breach by
either ransomware or a malicious

insider is on top of everyone's minds.


And so how do customers adapt to that?

In conjunction or also looking at
the fact that they may have te.

that they can't move away from.

How do they manage a callup
from one place, and how do

they get their arms around it?

And so managing that data wherever
it lives is one of, the core

capabilities of comvalt and metallic.

Whether it's on premises and it's, or in
the cloud it doesn't really matter and

you can take advantage of our technology.

Either self deployed software
appliance or SaaS as you see fit.

And so companies that are, somewhere along
that phase of their cloud journey, not

all on premises, but not all in the cloud.

And that hybrid scenario is of
course something that most companies

will probably be in forever.

That's where this breadth of
technology, not only from a deployment

standpoint, but what things we.

Really make a difference for them.

Most of our customers employ some kind
of mix of conval and metallic technology.

They may use metallic for for
instance for Microsoft 365 or

their Azure workloads, or their AWS
workloads or their OCI workloads.

While they may use our
software and our appliances to.

, they're on-premises data centers.

And as that makes changes, they may
choose to leverage metallic to manage

their entire estate, for instance
and move to that SaaS first model

with their overall cloud strategy.


No, that makes sense.

Kevin Horek: So obvi like maybe.

Forget about the hardware
side of things for a second.

How long?

And it's probably depends
on what needs are.

Like is there a rough range of how
long if I sign up as a customer

today, like how long until I can
actually start using the product?

David Ngo: That's one of the advantages
of of SaaS is that time to value, time

to be all actually be able to use what
you've purchased can be very short.

So for something like they're
protecting a SaaS based application

like Microsoft 365 Yeah.

Can be up and running in
as little as 15 minutes.


So yeah.

Kevin Horek: Instant basically.


And then hardware, it probably depends
on what I need and how quick you can

David Ngo: get it.

For Microsoft 365 and others, you
don't need infrastructure at all.


We provide, or even metallic.

And depending on, of course, on
premises considerations or, the volume

of data you have, if you want to back
up or keep a copy of your backup data

on prem we can provide that for you.

But, it may, you can reuse what
you have or you can purchase

new hardware that's up.


Kevin Horek: you.


No, that ma, that makes sense.

I think with a lot of startups,
the challenge is you go after one

specific vertical and you try to
dominate that vertical, but you

guys have so many different clients
in so many different verticals.

, is that like really a challenge to
manage or the fact that they're using,

office 360, you don't really necessarily
care what vertical they're playing in?

Does that matter or not matter, the
vertical they're in, I guess is the

David Ngo: best way to
phrase the question, maybe.

Got it.

I, great question.

By the way.

I think it matters less because at the
end of the day data is the crown jewels

of editing company and so protecting it.

Is very much core to business
continuity and how they can be

resilient to anything that might
happen externally to the business

and make sure that they can continue.

Of course each industry has some
different regulations, which can be

which present different challenges
right data residency, retention periods.

How often data needs to be protected,
I would say in that regard.

It's pretty straightforward, right?

Because c needs to protect their
data, they need to protect their data,

whether it's a law firm or a hospital
or a manufacturing organization.

It's a secondary concern
after that, right?


What is it they have to do to make sure
they comply with their own regulations?

No, that makes a

Kevin Horek: lot of sense.

So I'm curious.

And we touched on this a little
bit earlier, but now that people I

think, understand what you and the
team do, how have you managed that?

Obviously like client request and actually
feature implementation because sometimes

when you land these, big whale of a
client that everybody's heard of and

they're willing to say, we'll give you,
I don't know, like a million dollars or

something to implement this feature, but
it really changes the product direct.

like sometimes that's, can live, make
or break your software going forward.

. David Ngo: Yeah, it's, it,
that's a really good question.

I think in that regard, those
requests, like when we have a request

from big customer, they're generally
applicable to most other big customers.


I think it's rare that we get something
that so bespoke to a given customer that

it could have such a large impact on.

. And if that really were the case,
of course, because we're customer

obsessed and customer driven, that
we would do everything in our power

to be able to handle that situation.

But the trick is to be able to
solve those problems in such a

way that the solution is generally
applicable to, to many customers.

And that's part of the challenge
of innovation is to be able to.

Kevin Horek: No I actually think
that's really good advice because so

many people say okay, we need to build
this one feature for, this company.

But it's like you need to
really step back and say no.

I'm sure we can solve this
for, majority of our customers.

I'm sure some of our customers might
not use that feature cuz they don't

need it, but it's there if they
ever do need it, instead of just

like trying to build it specifically
for one client or just a small.

David Ngo: Yeah, often it comes
down to not building the solution

the customer wants, but solving
the problem the customer wants.


No, I think that's really good advice.

Kevin Horek: I'm curious, obviously
and people probably are wondering

this security's gotta be one of
your top focuses then, correct?

David Ngo: Yeah, absolutely.


Go ahead.


Kevin Horek: No, I was
just gonna say and how.

Stay on top of that because you
mentioned earlier, obviously there's,

you read all the time that somebody
got hacked and like big companies

are getting hacked these days,

David Ngo: right?

Yeah, unfortunately that's
the reality of our times.

And I think there are two, two kind of
perspectives to take on that question.

One is, from a security perspective,
we are the custodians of our customers.

, right?

From a metallic perspective as a SAS-based
provider we have their data, right?

And how do we protect our
service from being attacked?

And so we have very sophisticated
multi-layer system of security

that depends on any number of
controls that are documented in.

SOC two type two reports are
ISO seven 20 or ISO 27,001.


And certifications were also the
only data management is a service

offering to have fed burn high.

And so the vast majority of those
421 controls is implemented in

our commercial offerings as well.

So we have a lot of considerations
for security in our service.

. The second part of that is how can we help
enhance our customer security postures?

Complete that end-to-end view.

Not only from a prevention
standpoint, which is the realm of

anti antivirus software package.

All the way through early detection
mitigation and recovery, right?

That's really the full
spectrum of security.

. And so we have a number of features
that are really going that way.

I think in the past three years the
lines between security and backup

have blurred data protection, right?


Data protection has expanded in terms of
what threats you're protecting against.

It's not fire, flood, earthquake,
it's a hacker as you mentioned, or

some, a disgruntled employee, right?



Yeah that's where a lot of our strategy
is going right now and how we're working

with customers in terms of things like
our threat wise release our AI and ml

enabled anomaly detection capabilities,
and the fact that metallic as a SAS-based

service is air gaped and secure and the
data's immutable from attack even should

our customers environments be compromised.

Kevin Horek: Yeah.

And then obviously, Yeah, no.



And then obviously, like if somebody's,
I don't know, like on premise thing,

like one of your customers d gets
attacked on premise or whatever.

Doesn't affect any of your other

David Ngo: customers, obviously.

It does.

Not Every customer is
separated in the service.

And those controls are all
documented and regularly tested.


Makes sense.

Kevin Horek: Obviously you, you're
the CTO and you're a busy guy.

How do you stay current
with trends and fads?

Because it's gotta be challenging

David Ngo: It is absolutely challenging.

And the trick is to
distinguish a fad from a trend.

I think that's I think
you put it very well.

It's really it's really interesting
to see something that might.

Top of mind for everyone right now,
but you're determining if it has real

value or staying power is the trick.

That one's tough.

You really have to read a lot and talk
to a lot of people and talk to customers

and, walk a mile in their shoes.

Really like he is to remember
who all of this is for.

Who is this for?

This is for our customers.

And what are they trying to.

. And if you take that lens and you look
at what's happening in the industry,

the different technologies that
come up, or the different marketing

campaigns that pop up here and there it
allows you to cut to the truth, right?

What is it that really
will benefit our customers?

Or, are we looking at this just
because we wanna be a me too,

or have a check the box feature?

, and I think if you have a clear sense
of that, then customers can tell, right?

That, that you really have a strong
vision on where things are going.

Kevin Horek: No, it makes a lot of sense.

So I'm curious then obviously blockchain,
NFTs and a bunch of other kind of

things that are just related to that
or getting, a lot of good and bad

publicity over the last, couple years.


How do you manage that with some of
your big kind of enterprise clients?

Because you must get the question,
something as simple as, , do we need

to move everything to blockchain or
do we need to offer NFTs or, you know

what I, you know what I'm getting at.

, do you get questions like that and how
do you handle that and decide whether you

adopt that or not adopt things like that?

David Ngo: Sure.

Again, we go back to really
understanding what our customers'

motivations are, what their concerns
are, what they're worried about.

I think that is the key, right?


Blockchain is super popular and
people are like, , can we incorporate

blockchain into our software services?

Somehow you look at it and we're like
okay what benefit can we derive from that?

Is there a problem that,
that blockchain addresses?

And that answer I would say
is, still being debated.

And we can go all the way
back, over time to things like

serverless data movers, right?

Being able to.

Move data from disk to some other media.

At the time it was taped without
having a server read the data.

It was an interesting idea, but at the
end of the day, what we were trying

to do was to make sure that production
servers were not impacted by backup and

that could be solved in different ways.

And understanding that,
really helps you focus.

Trying to adopt technology for
technology's sake is not the way.

Kevin Horek: No I a hundred percent agree.

I always curious about enterprise and,
some of the, like blockchain for example,

everybody's gotta move to blockchain.

It's yeah, but do you like what?


Like here point, like what
benefit are you getting from it?

You might not.

Does it really matter?

It really depends on what
you're trying to do, right?

David Ngo: That's right.

It I'm sure we will come up with some
there, there's constant innovation, right?


Across all types of technology and that
kind of technology or any other kind.

We could come up with a fantastic use
for it this afternoon, but you know

that, that's problem then solution.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

That makes sense.

So I'm curious just based on some
research I was doing before the

show you, you basically have ran
metallic almost like a startup.

How have you done that in, a
company with lots of clients?

That can be really challenging in itself,
where you're trying to be agile and, grow

this thing and get actual users onto it.

David Ngo: It was a great story.

We started this, you're right.

As a startup within the
company, the question is always

how do you disrupt yourself?

It's the innovator's dilemma.

And what we did was we we built a small.

Of people with experience with Koal
and people without experience at koal.

And gave, and we gave our team a,
a clean sheet of paper and said,

do what you need to do to build a
modern SaaS data protection solution.

Do it with whatever you need at Koal.

And if you need to invent a
new process, go do that, right?

Because then what we can do
is, take that and bring it back

to the rest of the business.

And being given that that degree
of freedom along with the guidance,

the air cover from from Sanjay
our C E o was very empowering.

We were able to, go from concept
to release, initial release of

the service in just record time.

It was like seven or eight months.


That's, And, the, of course,
the technology basis formed

a huge part of it, right?

That, that, that foundation was
fundamentally sound and we could

build on it and really concentrate on
what we needed to offer to customers.

And because we were built on
Kamala technology, then, we didn't

have that initial trust issue.

Customers were like,
will this really work?

They're like, yes it will work, right?

We've been the leaders in the
enterprise space for many.

And we're leveraging that
technology in this SAS offering.

So I it was the best of both worlds.

It was a startup where we could be
innovative and we had freedom, but at

the same time, we could fall back on
the power of this mothership, right?

All the experience, all the support
all of the the technology there.

And just use that as a
launching pad for the service.

Kevin Horek: Very cool.

No I think that's really good advice.

And I think just having buy-in from
obviously the c e o and the other C-Suite

members, including yourself is a huge

David Ngo: thing.

A absolutely it's impossible
to do something on this scale

or have the success without the
full buy-in of the organization.

Without all of us rowing
in the same direction.

Understanding the strategy,
understanding the vision and.

understand what we were trying to
do in such a short period of time.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

So there, there will be a bunch of kind
of young CTOs listening to the episode.

What advice would you give them
that you've maybe learned along

the way through kind of trial and
error and what advice would you give

David Ngo: to them?

I think the first thing when people
ask me, what would I say to, to

anyone else , don't be afraid of being
uncomfortable with what you're doing.

That's good advice.


I think people shy away from being
uncomfortable that there's a imposter

syndrome is held as a negative.

It's something to be avoided.

I think it's something to be embraced.

As a C T O, you need to have a broad.

Sense and expertise in all
aspects of the business.

Not only from a technology
perspective, but how that technology

is purchased and consumed and used.

Understanding ev what everyone has
in it from, from the developers, to

the people in marketing, to people
in legal and sales and hr, right?

All aspects of the company,
what that means, all the way to

the customers and the partners.


It's quite important to
always keep that in mind.

Being uncomfortable means that you're
learning means that you're growing.

Being too comfortable is a recipe
for being stagnant in your career.

I think.

Kevin Horek: I a hundred percent
agree, and I wish I would've overcome

that a lot earlier than I did, but
how or what advice do you give to

people to actually get over that?

Because, it's easy for you and
I to say you should do this,

but I was, to me it was really
challenging to actually get over

David Ngo: that.

It, it really is for me, the key was
to just tell myself, that, what if

failure is not something to be afraid.


I think it's something that you look
at as an opportunity and understanding

that you do the best that you can
with the information you have at that

time, and you need to make decisions.

You can't be paralyzed by
indecision and just own it, right?

It's okay if you make the wrong
decisions and if you're wrong, and if

there is a failure, learn, move on.


, and that's the point
of being agile, right?

Is learning from failure.

It's not aiming at different
things in the market.

It's understanding, take a position
and adjust as needed along the way.

Kevin Horek: No I think that's
actually really good advice.

And I also think too, it's and.

It's just, you don't have to just
like pit, like we're so used to this

agile, as a developer and then as a C
T O, we're so used to like this agile

process where we iterate and do like
little changes over a period of time.

But when it comes to actually like
pushing ourselves out of our comfort

zone, we seem to not want to do it
in that part of our life, right?


But we do it in our every
other part of our day

David Ngo: job, . That's right.

And really the key to this is
you have to understand why you.

. Totally.

If you were put in a position
where you do something and you

don't know why you failed, then
that's the real failure, right?


In instrument, everything,
understand everything.

That way when if you do fail, you
have a plan to move forward, and

that kind of, that in of itself,
that's your safety net, right?


If you're certain that you can
learn from a bad thing that happens,

then the bad thing is not so bad.


Kevin Horek: a hundred percent.

And a lot of it too is it really
gonna matter in one week, two weeks,

three months, six months, a year?

Most of the time, no.


David Ngo: most of the time, no.

If you understand what's happening
and you can, because your

instrumentation, you can tell when
a decision is wrong quickly enough.


It's okay.

Obviously some big decisions will have
repercussions months into the future.

So you have.

Do again, but do the best you can
and have the confidence that you can

make the adjustment if necessary.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

Any other advice you'd maybe
give to your younger self or CTOs

listening or entrepreneurs listening?

David Ngo: Yeah, I think the other
thing that was really evident

to us in this process is be open
for, to ideas from anywhere.

, right?

A, a cross-functional approach is so
important, not just to make sure that

everyone understands the direction
and can be, can work independently.

It actually makes you
involving more people.

May seem like it's slowing
things down, but it's really not.

Because if everyone knows actually
what's going on, then you can know go

off and do your own thing and then all
come back together again very rapidly.

And great ideas can come from
anywhere in that process.

We've had some of our best ideas
come from marketing or legal

when we're doing a demo, right?

And those ideas are valid.

Don't just discount them because
they're not from engineering

or product management.

Everyone you have is smart.

Make sure that, we consider all.

. No,

Kevin Horek: I, I think
that's really good advice.

The other thing that I'm curious
to get your thoughts on that seem

to work really well for me over
the years is so many so many not

thinking about the customer first.

It's just because it doesn't make as I'm
like a UX designer, guy, and it's so

easy to be like, , it doesn't make sense
to me, but it doesn't really matter.

If I'm not the target market and
it makes sense to the actual target

user based on what we're building
it, then that's all that matters.

If the target user understands it, it
doesn't matter if somebody that will

never touch the piece of software
likes it or understands it, I think

sometimes, like we forget that in

David Ngo: our younger career.

Yeah it's one of those things.

That, that outside interview, who
are you building the solution for?

What is their experience going to be?

And I think, one of the things to be
that, that was really helpful was that

as customers are looking for simpler
and simpler solutions they're not

looking for, if you look at the old.

Super complex enterprise applications
that you needed a degree and

that created a job opportunity or
description in of itself, right?



Design is king.

Ease of use is king.

And so if you if you can make sure that
everyone understands why you're doing

what you're doing, and if that requires
education of your UX team, that's fine, or

user interviews or what have you, that's.

. But it should all make sense to everybody.

And so you, you know what I was
mentioning before, one of the, we've

had big changes from people in demos
going, Hey, why did we put this here?

That I don't understand that question.

We're like, ah, you're right , and
just shifting things around a little.

You made a significant.

Kevin Horek: but how have you fostered
that culture where you're willing

to take that kind of feedback?

Because it sounds like sometimes,
oh, why do we put this here

when we should be over here?

Sometimes that's a, few minute change.

Sometimes you have to
rework a bunch of stuff.

But how have you fo fostered that
culture where you know someone.

That's, not in the C-Suite, feels
comfortable enough to literally say to you

as a cto this doesn't make sense to me.

Maybe we need to change
that, cuz that's challenging.

David Ngo: It is.

And with the scale of the
team, it's one of the most

challenging things to maintain.

It comes down to culture.

Right there, there is this, there
is a saying that says strategy or

culture eats strategy, for breakfast.

And it's true.

I think it's incumbent upon leaders.

to make sure that the culture
of the team, fosters that kind

of communication and openness.

I think as a leader, you have to be,
you have to walk the walk you can't

say, Hey, listen to everyone and
then have a closed door attitude.

. Yes.


And making sure that, I.

Do what I say is really critical
and setting that example will

open up the whole org, right?

It just will.

And making sure that, as a leader,
you want to listen to everyone

as much as possible, right?

And making sure everyone understands
and what a change isn't made.

Why it's, it can't be made that we
looked at it and, could take time or it's

something we'll look at in the future.

It's great.

There there's no such
thing as bad feedback.

It's just feedback.


And so understanding that I,
and making people understand

that is really important.

Kevin Horek: No, I, yeah.

I think that's one of the hardest
things for somebody in the C-Suite

to let go and accept that they're
not gonna get it right every time.

Cuz nobody does.

It doesn't matter if it's day one or
you've been at it a hundred years, right?

Like you're never gonna hit it.

Oh every time.

And Exactly.

But having that culture that allows
that feedback and getting it from

somebody with a different point of
view from, it's never a bad thing.

But I think a lot of CTOs and anyone
in the C-suite or management can really

struggle with that cuz it's like an
ego thing sometimes, with some people.

Not every.

David Ngo: it can be unconscious too.

Even if it's not, it can just be like,
oh, I don't have time to listen to this.

Or, we can't mess with that.

We have more important things to do.

Obviously prioritization and stack ranking
and o of things to do is important because

otherwise you don't go anywhere, right?

You have to be able to make hard
choices, but at the same time, you

know that one discussion can trigger.

, a different way of thinking
about any part of the product.

And so it's a tough balance.

Listen as much as possible,
sometimes it's just not possible.

But listen as much as
you can to, to everybody.


Kevin Horek: I'm curious, is
there anything that you've.

Learned in kind of outside of your
business life because you've been at Conal

for so long that you've been able to maybe
bring back into business or vice versa?

David Ngo: I think one thing that it
can be challenging sometimes to that

That culture of openness is perhaps some
intimidation when people come in from

organizations which are not that way.

Ah, yes.

And a little humor, I think goes
a long way to breaking that down

and to make everyone know that
everyone else is human, right?


Just a touch here and there is
quite important, I think, doesn't

have to be serious all the time.

We often open our meetings
with five minutes of fun.

Kevin Horek: So what does that mean?

David Ngo: Catching up with each other.


Just joking about someone's
background or what have you.

We don't have to start exactly on time.

We it's because so much of
our lives are still remote.

It's something that is missing.

From day-to-day interaction
and that'll help.

But it has to be a limit.

And I don't think it's particularly
formal, but it's understood.

First, first few minutes we can
just joke around with each other and

remember that we're all colleagues
and we all like each other.

Kevin Horek: So I'm curious to maybe,
what other advice do you have for people

that are, doing the remote thing nowadays,
whether they were that way before

the pandemic, or whether the pandemic
kind of forced 'em to be like that?

Because what you just outlined is a
huge challenge, I think for pretty

much every company at this point.

. David Ngo: And it's true because
our team is so distributed anyway.

Even if we were quote unquote
in person, it really wouldn't.

, right?

We have people all over the
country, all over the world.

Establishing that the culture and
understanding the humanness of people

despite the fact that we all are running
a million miles an hour that's just super,

super important people of lives outside of
what on the screen or what you're asking

them to do and keep you down in mind.

That's a key part of working with a team.

I think even more so
in these times, right?

Because the remote work capability or
work from anywhere has really allowed

people to really work from anywhere.

And so unrealistic expectations sometimes
can be put upon people even though we

all try our best, but, ha having that
understanding it's just super critical

in as long as your teams get things.

It's fine, right?

People have to pick up their
kids in the middle of the day or

someone's sick or what have you.

Just do what you need to do.

No I think that's really

Kevin Horek: good advice.

So I'm curious then, because, oh, I
think a lot of companies are dispersed

now across the country or maybe
the world and a lot of people are

working remote, maybe even part-time.

How do you make sure that, people
aren't stuck in meetings day after day?

. And cuz we all know that trying to
build software in 20 minute or hour

incre intervals is not gonna happen.

David Ngo: Yeah, that's true.

Yeah, that's really hard.

It's really difficult.

I think I've heard of some companies
that have no meeting weeks.


Like a whole week, just no meetings
focused on what you're doing.

It is incumbent upon people to, and
I think you have to make it okay to

say, no I can't meet at this time.

And we have to adjust to a different time
because I just need some time to work.

Or focus on yourself, block out
some focus time in the calendar.

So people don't just steal open slots.

I think that, taking control of your
calendar is probably the one of the top

things I would say or advise to people.

Don't let other people
control your calendar.

That's very, yeah, very quickly you'll
find that you have, Meetings booked from

eight in the morning to seven o'clock
at night with nothing in between.

And you're like okay, I have
to eat sometime , whatever.

But yeah it's something that I
constantly pay attention to cuz I'm

always trending towards, Hey let's
get things done, let's do whatever.

But at the same time, I have to
be able to do, get things other

things done during the day.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

No, that, that makes a lot of sense.

So we're coming to the end of the
show, but is there any other advice

or things that you want to mention
to the listener and then we'll

David Ngo: close out the show?

I would say, again, culture
is a huge focus, right?

And culture comes from communication or
is heavily dependent on communication.

Communicate with your, and
it goes both ways, right?

Listen to your people, communicate
with your people, communicate outside

your organization, over communicate,
and if people know what's happening

it doesn't mean that everyone has to
participate in the decisions, right?

Don't let that paralyze
you in decision making.

But it's something that I've personally
learned over the past few years.

I used to trend towards, Hey
let's start without a tiny

group and then bring people in.

And that doesn't always work very.

because then you're it's actually wasting
more time bringing in other people who

should have had input from the beginning.

It's easier to over
communicate from the start.

No, that,

Kevin Horek: that makes a lot of sense.

Follow up question to that then is we
all know that, developers and a lot of

people in tech right now are extremely
hard to find and I think most tech

companies are going through some sort
of challenge at hiring and recruitment.

any advice or thoughts or how you've
managed that or, because I think we're

all going through that right now.

David Ngo: Yeah.


And that's a tough one for sure.

You really want people
to work for you, right?

You want people to want to work for you.


Just paying a, salary is one thing.

You spend so much of your time
interacting with people you work with,

and at work, whether it's virtually
or in person it's gotta bring you some

sort of other meaning or connection.

And being able to establish that or
demonstrate that to people and have

clarity in your vision is important.

And again, back to the overcommunication,
if everyone understands and

believes and can convey the vision.

Then that will attract people.

And if the vision is clear and it
makes sense and it's compelling that

can only help with the recruiting.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

And I, it sounds like if you guys
nail that, you're gonna get your

current employees to recruit,
their friends and acquaintances

David Ngo: to come work at your company.

That's the hope.

Kevin Horek: Yeah, no, very cool.

But we're coming to the end of the
show, so how about we close with

mentioning where people can get more
information about yourself, metallic

David Ngo: and comal ? So for
Metallic you can visit metallic.io.

There's a ton of information
there about our products and our

offerings pricing, everything is.

Kabal is@kabal.com.

And invite myself.

Oh goodness.

I think you know all about me
now from this from this session.

Of course I have my LinkedIn page that you
can look up and you'll reach out to me.

Kevin Horek: Perfect, David.

I really appreciate you taking the time
outta your day to be on the show, and

I look forward to keeping in touch with
you and have a good rest of your day.

David Ngo: Thank you so
much for the opportunity and

thanks everyone for listening.

Really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Ep. 533 w/ David Ngo CTO, Metallic at Commvault
Broadcast by