Milind Borate is the co-founder and CTO of Druva, which provides data protection and management for businesses. Founded in 2008, the California-headquartered firm has grown from a team of seven to more than 700. Its software is built on to Amazon Web Services and is used by more than 4000 companies around the world.
In this Q&A, the first in our weekly CTO Talk series, Borate explains why serverless software development holds “immense promise”, what makes him admire Tesla, AWS and Microsoft, and how breaking open his toys as a kid gave him an early taste for tech.
Rob Scammell: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?
Milind Borate: I have always worked on storage technology, including 7+ years of working on Veritas file system. Somewhere around 2007, Jaspreet, Ramani, and I decided to start Druva. It started with a solution for laptop backup and today, Druva provides data protection and management as a service to 4000+ enterprise customers.
I continue to focus on technology in Druva. I supervised Druva engineering for the first 6-7 years. Presently, I run the CTO office with a dual responsibility of setting the architectural direction for the engineering team and running Druva labs to explore futuristic product concepts and technologies.
What’s the most important thing happening in your field at the moment?
We are observing a great shift towards cloud computing. Enterprises are migrating workloads from on-premise datacenter to SaaS solutions.
Which emerging technology do you think holds the most promise once it matures?
I believe serverless software development is an emerging technology, which holds immense promise. Serverless goes beyond compute. Public cloud providers support serverless storage, databases, email service, API gateway, messaging, ML services, big data ETL, big data query processing, and the list is growing.
One could practically develop an entire application without running a single server.
How do you separate hype from disruptor?
Most disruptors go through a hype cycle. It’s important to understand the real use cases for a disruptor and ignore the hype. Blockchain, AI, and quantum computing are good examples of disruptors with real use cases and also a lot of hype.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given?
I believe in focusing on strengths and not worrying too much about the weak areas. My advice to myself and to others is to work on what you are best at and also work on the things you enjoy doing.
Where did your interest in tech come from?
I was always inclined towards understanding the working of things around me. As a kid, I used to break open my toys, understand the mechanics and put them back together again.
Computer science was just making its entry in India when I finished high school. I was always captivated by the concept of a ‘universal machine that can perform a task with the right software programme.’
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What does a typical day look like for you?
Most of my working day is about understanding and guiding. Understanding the challenges faced by my Druva team members, understanding proposed solutions, and then guiding the team so that they align with Druva’s high-level objectives.
What do you do to relax?
I like to read fiction as well as non-fiction. Listening to Hindustani classical music is a great way to relax for me.
Who is your tech hero?
I would name a few organisations rather than an individual person. Microsoft reinvented themselves in a SaaS world as they successfully adapted its software development – as well as its business model. I admire AWS for its speed of software development. Tesla is another organisation that disrupted automobile business by taking a software focussed approach.
What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?