When discussing his role as CTO of MuleSoft, which is now a part of Salesforce, Sarid explained that reading and understanding the market that you’re in, especially in terms of what’s hot at the present time, is vital for success.
“I think one of the most important things is to really invest deeply into understanding the market, the customers, the pinpoints, the things that are coming up in the future,” he said.
“Obviously, you have to come from a base of understanding what’s there today and for our customers, really for the whole market.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of layers of legacy and things that were put in at various times, so you have to come from that basis.”
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“You cannot assume that the world is greenfield. Almost by definition, most of it is not.”
MuleSoft’s CTO did, however, go on to describe the importance of planning for the future and understanding trends.
“For example, containerisation is now pretty hot. Three years ago, it was an upcoming trend, and it wasn’t completely clear where it would go.
“But being able to start the investment in containerisation early on means that by now when containerisation is on the roadmap of effectively everybody in the market, that it’s clear that we can help our customers get there.
“So I think that’s one of the most important things, to make sure that we’re not in an ivory tower, but rather live in and be of the market and of our customers.”
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Sarid cited two main aspects of his role that he focuses on.
“One is the general direction of our platform and, to some extent, of our industry view as well, trying to provide thought leadership and understand the trends going on and how that will affect our customers and our market and so on,” he explained.
“The other aspect really is the overall architecture of our platform to make sure that we are building it in such a way that it actually meets the vision that Mark, our Chief Product Officer, and I have put together for us.”
As for the challenges that Sarid has encountered as a CTO, one particular aspect that was cited was that of “staying grounded”, and making sure that he examines every layer of the business and “understand what’s real and what’s some kind of idealisation.
“You can come up with abstractions, you can come up with points of view, but they’re not necessarily informed by the way things really work,” he added.
“I think that’s one of the concerns that you get sometimes in a role like CTO or a Chief Architect and so on; you get a little bit removed from reality.”
CTO vs CIO
Sarid also took the time to explain the difference between a CTO and a CIO, while explaining that MuleSoft does not have a CIO.
“Now that we are part of Salesforce, that would not have made sense anyway because the internal IT and the IT function is run in general by Salesforce,” he explained. “But even when we were independent, we had a head of IT; we didn’t actually have a CIO.”
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“I think it’s very typical to have the CTO be more focused on the product side and the CIO be focused on the internal side. However, that really varies by industry.”
“So we have a lot of customers where there is no such distinguishing. For example in many of the banks, the CIO is responsible for all of the internal technology, whether it’s woven into product offerings or whether it’s used for internal systems.”
The future of the CTO
In terms of the future of the role of the CTO, Sarid stated that the pace of the role is set to get faster as the market evolves.
“When the market goes faster we too will have to go faster and that’s a very real prediction that you have to get ready for,” he said.
“We also have to become intent-based. We have to lean into that and say ‘Okay, I’m going to create a roadmap for how we declare intents, so that as more and more people participate in this kind of intent-based architecture, we already have a way to encompass them without knowing in advance the ways that they will be doing it.
“So you end up with building a more intent-based platform, and that’s certainly where we’re going. It’s in that way that we can keep up with the explosion of opportunities.”