Throughout his 15 years of experience, Shreyas Sadalgi has proven he has a passion for fostering strategic partnerships and driving product strategy at cloud and enterprise software companies.
He’s worn many hats: He’s held product and engineering leadership roles at Packeteer and Tacit Networks (both now Symantec). He’s overseen business and corporate development at Blue Coat (acquired by Symantec). And he’s helped Centrify become an industry leader in several markets by inking strategic partnerships with several mobile, SaaS, and big data vendors.
But through it all, his #1 priority remains consistent: a laser focus on solving customer pain points and IT challenges.
He sat down to discuss the emerging challenges in the enterprise IT world, his vision and product strategy for BetterCloud, and why companies should want to partner with a unified SaaS management platform like BetterCloud.
Shreyas has a BE degree in computer science from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK), and a MS degree in computer science from Rutgers University.
Check out the Q&A video below to hear from Shreyas.
To learn more, read on.
Where are you from?
I am originally from India. I grew up in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. I moved to New Jersey and spent eight years there earning my graduate degree and then wearing many hats as a founding member of a technology startup. After our company was acquired, I also then “acquired” my wife on the West Coast, and ultimately relocated to the real Silicon Valley. I’ve been a San Francisco resident for nine years and counting.
Tell us about your background.
I come from 15 years of experience in the software industry with eight years in executive business, and I’ve been focused on customer and strategic partner development. Prior to that, I spent seven years in engineering and product roles when I was involved in creating market disruptive products. I was solving latency and functioning issues across long distance networks at my first company, Tacit Networks and Packeteer.
Later, I moved on to the security side of the spectrum, where I was focused on solving the security challenges when accessing any external applications from the web. That’s what I did at Blue Coat for 4 and a half years as director of business development.
Then I switched to the cloud IT space–specifically, cloud identity management–at my most recent company, Centrify. I was the senior vice president of business development and spent four and a half years there. We were solving a lot of the IT challenges around just purely accessing SaaS applications. For example, take Office 365 or G Suite. How do you safely and securely access them? That’s what I did at Centrify, and that’s what brought me to BetterCloud, which is in the realm of solving IT challenges and managing all these SaaS applications.
So this new role at BetterCloud seems like a natural next step for you.
Yes, that’s the way I see it. In fact, I think the last five to seven years in the industry have been about organizations trying to migrate and adopt their first few SaaS applications. It was a completely different era back then. Every organization was very wary, very cautious. They had a lot of fear around just adopting and getting onto the cloud. The first hurdle was, “Well, how do we securely ensure this transition and make sure that every employee is safely accessing those SaaS applications?” They had to deal with control and security concerns, and a lot of vendors helped make that transition smoother. That happens to be the cloud identity or the cloud security world.
Now I think, to your point, there’s hundreds of thousands of organizations who have already done that, and now all employees have been provisioned with the SaaS applications and they’re fully deployed. Now there’s a new set of challenges coming to the surface, which is: “What are the ongoing management challenges as it relates to these fully sanctioned and ubiquitously deployed SaaS applications?”
As we’re entering this age of a digitized and SaaS-Powered Workplace, we’re seeing the average number of SaaS applications really shoot up. We’re seeing a rapid rise in the average number of applications being adopted–anywhere from eight to ten on average for large organizations. That is now giving rise to the next set of challenges, which is: “For the IT administrators who are managing these applications on a day-to-day basis, what issues are they facing?”
On that note, in your experience, what are the biggest challenges administrators are facing in the enterprise IT world now? How do they fit into the SaaS-Powered Workplace, and how does BetterCloud fit into it?
We’re seeing there’s actually three categories of challenges if you look at the trends. The first challenge is SaaS data centralization or visibility. If you’re using multiple applications, how do you get a unified view across those applications, so that you don’t have to switch between multiple admin consoles or tabs? Just getting a unified view of all the things that the users are doing across those eight to ten applications is a big challenge.
The second challenge is that once your employees start using and living in these SaaS applications, that automatically starts generating a ton of user and data activity events for IT. Most of them turn out to be benign but some could be critical IT alerts and insights. The IT administrator is now flooded with, and overburdened by, all these events and alerts coming from these eight applications. As IT admins, how do they keep up with that? How do they make sure they just look at the top, and yet find the needles in the haystack? That’s the operational intelligence challenge for SaaS apps–which BetterCloud can nail down.
Finally the third challenge is that the IT administrator is now spending a lot of hours doing repetitive tasks to follow processes, manage users, and configure settings in these SaaS applications. Again, they’re fairly repetitive in one application, and it needs to be similarly done across multiple app settings. Admins also need correlation between two or three applications. This is another challenge, which is: “How can I automate and streamline SaaS admin tasks? How can I make that more simplified by creating a nice automated tool that can just do that for me?” And that’s where BetterCloud comes in with its SaaS action orchestration platform.
You’re joining BetterCloud as its new chief business strategy officer. What duties and responsibilities does that role entail, and what’s your vision for the company?
I organize my responsibilities into two buckets. The first is to create new strategic partnerships to grow the business. What that means is looking across the landscape and thinking about how we partner with the right organizations to grow customer and user adoption of our platform. This goes all the way from our technology partners–SaaS apps that we integrate with, like G Suite, Zendesk, Slack, and Dropbox–to systems integrators, distributors, or reseller partners, who’d be involved in bundling, selling, integrating and servicing our platform along with the best-in-class SaaS stack of applications. This is where we help partners create more customer value and be more strategic with their customers’ SaaS deployments by the use of our platform. It’s a win-win for all of us.
It also means looking at innovative ways to embed our robust platform into existing IT operations management and automation platforms, like BMC, CA, HP, IBM, ServiceNow, etc. These are all vendors who are already leaders in their space of operations and management in the IT category, but how do we help them advance to make that leap for a cloud IT operations and management (ITOM) to manage SaaS applications as IT assets? So that’s the first bucket, which is to create a range of steady partnerships to grow the business.
The second bucket is to really advance the corporate and product strategies for BetterCloud. We’re creating a new market category around ITOM for SaaS apps, so how do we clearly articulate our vision and strategy to all audiences, like customers, partners, and industry analysts? What we’re doing as a platform does not really overlap with any of the adjacent markets, like the identity brokers or the security brokers for SaaS applications. Given that we’re creating a new market category, how do we tell that story? How do we advance the platform with new products to execute on our cloud ITOM vision?
Once we do that, it lays a great foundation to attract the right partners to come work with us, and it creates a nice 1+1=5 value proposition to really help build our business. It gives us a nice platform that we can continually evolve and enhance with new features and functionality. That could mean taking a look at other acquisitions, as well as possibly stepping into a new market to manage another category of cloud services or resources, like IoT, IaaS, etc. We could be stepping into adjacent markets under the same umbrella of unified operations and management for all things in the cloud.
Essentially, how do we make sure that we can continually grow and become a billion dollar company down the road? That’s corporate strategy. That’s product strategy. And that’s the second bucket of my duty and responsibility.
Speaking of partners, what’s the number one reason someone should want to partner with BetterCloud?
I’d articulate this for two categories of partners:
SaaS Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)—When the time comes for your subscription renewals, we make you shine in front of your customers. With BetterCloud, we make your applications really “sticky” across all users in the organization. How? Our platform builds automated IT administrative workflows for your app tied into a variety of other SaaS apps that are used in the workplace for everyday use cases around onboarding, ongoing lifecycle, and offboarding of employees. We simplify and automate all the manual and repetitive day-to-day tasks that your customers’ IT teams would otherwise be spending hours doing. We help them take actions on a lot of critical events that they otherwise wouldn’t know what to do with.
We make your application fully adopted across the organization by having it be rolled out without administrative complexity. There’s no operational or management burden. Your customer success teams are not going to hear about issues around applications being hard to manage, deploy, or operate. In other words, we give your customers’ IT teams a lot of time back so they can focus on the strategic business needs of their organization.
Systems integrators, resellers, and distributors—We will create new revenue generation opportunities for you with the BetterCloud platform. As an SI, you can confidently create a net-new services practice around helping IT operationalize and manage core SaaS apps that every employee uses, like G Suite, Slack, Office 365, Box, Salesforce, etc. As a reseller, you can lucratively bundle BetterCloud as an add-on product around every SaaS app category.
BetterCloud offers a really nicely monetizable yearly recurring subscription product, in addition to your core SaaS portfolio apps. As an MSP, if you’re looking for platforms to manage the full lifecycle of any SaaS app, you don’t need to build per-app tools or look for management platform vendors in each app category. BetterCloud works deeply and tightly with every major SaaS app vendor to build out app integrations for a best-in-class SaaS stack, so you don’t need to reinvent that wheel.
What does it say to you when a young startup like BetterCloud makes the decision to hire a Chief Business Strategy Officer?
To me, bringing someone into this role really signifies that BetterCloud is ready to take the next quantum leap into growing the business and transforming itself from an IT tool to a platform company.
It’s pretty telling that the company is really ready to take it to the next stage–not only from a platform and technology perspective, but also from a business perspective. What this means is that they have a clear line of sight to get to that market leader position, to that market-maker position. BetterCloud is ready to do that.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I practice yoga and attempt to follow the path of spirituality as much as time permits. My personal mission statement is, “Outwardly an executive Occidental, inwardly a spiritual Oriental.” I belong to a drinking club with a runner’s problem–The Hash House Harriers of San Francisco–so I also fully let my hair (and body) down every week. We meet Monday evenings to work off the weekday blues. I thoroughly enjoy playing squash and that’s how I like to wrap up any stressful work week!