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Patents & Possibilities w/ Khalid Raza





Karen Mangia

Today on Success from Anywhere, we'll meet a tech visionary with multiple patents and a passion for changing how networks work. Khalid Raza is the founder and CEO of Graphiant and the engineering genius architecting the future while addressing a $58B market opportunity.

Khalid Raza

Thank you, Karen.

Karen Mangia

I like to ask every guest, what was your first paid job? And how did that job inform or inspire your career trajectory?

Khalid Raza

So I'm going to date myself. My first job was a telemarketing job at Sears. Remember that people used to order via the phone and get that merchandise catalog during Christmas. That was my first job. Telemarketing was my first job.

Karen Mangia

Wow. And has cold calling has served you well in your career as an entrepreneur?

Khalid Raza

Absolutely. It gives you confidence. It teaches you two things. You learn how to deal with customers and deal with irate customers. That's so critical. If you want to build a business, you have irritated customers, so you must know how to manage them. It taught me a lot.

Karen Mangia

What catalyst sparked your interest in technology where you've spent most of your career?

Khalid Raza

I was looking for a job during the 1992 recession. My background was in databases. But somebody connected me to a small company named Cisco Systems in 1993. I still have that T-shirt, which says “Our first billion.” I joined Cisco in 1993. So the internet was literally in its infancy. And once you connect and start using the internet, you are just fascinated and thrilled by the growth of this new world we are a part of. Everybody can communicate with anybody. So Cisco was my first opportunity. And I loved every moment of working there.

Karen Mangia

And you and I share that background. You spent 17 years there. I was fascinated to discover you were the first Cisco Certified Architect (CCAR) in the world. What was that like? And how many are there now approximately?

Khalid Raza

In five years, there were seven or eight CCAR’s. It was a difficult test; you had to go through a written exam, take a case study, and solve problems. And then, you had to present to a board, which included a technical board and an executive board. So you have to justify on both ends. It was difficult, and only a few people could do it. Cisco stopped that certification in 2016-17 because only a few people were getting certified.

Karen Mangia

Some people would look at your timing of entering Cisco and then being there for 17 years as you must have had the opportunity to cash out and retire if you wanted to. And you decided to step away from the enterprise into entrepreneurship. What inspired that move?

Khalid Raza

I was so fascinated by the healthcare systems that I was working with a hospital in Pakistan. I'm originally from Pakistan. So I worked in a cancer hospital run by a legendary cricket player, who later became the Prime Minister. I was so fascinated by the healthcare system in that country. It is the only cancer hospital. Pakistani women have the second-highest breast cancer rate in the world at this point. And it goes undetected. I asked myself, “Why is this such a big issue? Why can’t we include a lot of physicians to become part of this partner program around this cancer hospital?”


To answer this question, I started to study the healthcare system of Pakistan. Then I began to study the healthcare system of the United States. And I said, “Oh, this is the least IT-savvy system in the world, not just in a third-world country like Pakistan, but in the United States.”


I became very fascinated by the healthcare system. And I kept on studying it, and then I realized that we needed to create a well-connected, integrated healthcare system, even in this country. COVID exposed many of these problems in our healthcare system, including the continuum of care and research, connectivity between hospitals and different primary care, ambulatory care, and even pharmaceuticals. I was so fascinated by it. There had to be a focus on making the internet secure, private, and reliable, just like the Enterprise Connection’s private connectivity. The question was, “How do we get there?” So that was my path. And I started to look into more on Enterprise connectivity; it was becoming costly because of the data growth. There came a time when I said, “I need to take this jump, a leap of faith, and see how we transform this fixed, rigid network into a much more flexible network.”

Karen Mangia

What I like about what you're saying is that you're outlining a thought process, methodology, or approach to becoming an entrepreneur. First, find a problem that you have an insatiable curiosity about, then get more interested and discover if anybody else believes this is a problem or a possibility. And then think about how to solve this from an ecosystem approach. And I love what you said at the end, thinking about things we believe to be fixed as flexible. Say more about that, because that's core to you as an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a leader challenging this belief that we can be flexible within a framework.

Khalid Raza

If you look at the original idea of the internet, I'm now returning to 1993, it was a global address, and everybody believed that every device could talk to every device. Fast forward to the 2000s, the likes of Google, Facebook, and Netflix converted the internet from several server locations to now millions of clients can connect to those servers. So it became a client-server. Look what is happening now. Workloads are not fixed, nor are your users set. The Cloud changed the dynamics. We've moved away from an enterprise data center to centers of data. And those centers of data are not fixed. Now, how do you evolve those technologies if you want to connect anything to anything, your user to your workload, which is in a very unpredictable environment?


If I look at the 30 years of innovations we've done in networking, we build networks, assuming that network connectivity is fixed. And that assumption is now falling apart, that the network connectivity is not fixed. And let's look at three, four years down the road. Look at edge computing; more data will be generated at the network's edge than in the cloud and the data centers. So the network is getting so fast disaggregated that the data will be exchanged between entities, which would be machine to machine, not user to device. So we can't delay the transfer of data. We cannot assume that the data-generating point will remain fixed. It has to be so flexible and changing all the time. So we need to evolve our networking mindset. It must be flexible and changeable. And it needs to evolve from a technological point of view.

Karen Mangia

And you're looking in the direction that we are all content creators now. So there are even more places where people are creating data, thinking about how to store data, and move data from place to place. I want to connect to something you said about the healthcare system. During the pandemic, when people started working from home, it highlighted a gap: how do we secure networks and data and information when anyone can connect to anything anywhere at any time? And this is a topic you spend a lot of time thinking about.

Khalid Raza

Yes. What is happening in the medical industry fascinates me, and it's continuing to evolve. COVID highlighted a few things. What will happen to older adults and geriatrics? In the next five years, it's going to go home. People stay healthier when they're elderly, especially when they're in their existing home environment. Many medical IOT devices will be connected because suddenly, a 100-bed hospital or an elderly home with 100 people per location can get converted into thousands of locations. Healthcare units just moved to somebody's home. Now, the data generated at somebody's house is more compliance data than me watching Netflix. So the data generated at the edge is more regulatory compliant than private data. And it requires guaranteed delivery. And we thought about the fact that the internet is not a reliable medium. We did not know the internet would get converted into this type of connectivity where we couldn't afford data traffic loss because there were transit issues on the internet. We need to fix this problem, which drives me today. On a factory floor, you can lose thousands of dollars an hour if there is a failure on a factory floor, which requires data transportation. In healthcare, these two most fascinating industries require edge computing locations to be more reliable and private. And we must find a way to avoid these transit failures that continue to happen on the internet. So that's why this whole idea of network as a service is critical for edge computing to grow. And that is something that I'm very passionate about and extremely fascinated with.

Karen Mangia

And regardless of what industry you're in, whether it's technology or manufacturing or healthcare, we can all relate to feeling a sense of urgency of what happens if the data that affects the quality of our life, or potentially the end of our life, does not get to where it needs to go when it needs to get there. And some listeners might be shocked to discover that the internet is unstable. In addition to losing thousands of dollars, you could lose thousands of lives. How do we think about that differently? What are the new guiding principles we all need to consider when we think about getting our data securely, where and when it needs to go somewhere?

Khalid Raza

We have a lot of lessons learned. Look what happened to the content creation guys. They realize that the content needs to get closer and closer to the user. Now, the distribution of this content in so many locations, most of these guys, Facebook, Google, did that. We need to start building wherever the data is being created, get it as close as possible, and bring it to the network as early as possible. And this is what I've been talking to service providers about: you have a tremendous opportunity to start monetizing and servicing this data for an enterprise done very well by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others. The opportunity is now pivoting towards service providers, who are the closest to where the data is generated. Our Telco central office is closest to my home. Google is not, Facebook is not, but a Telco central office is. They will provide that reliability. And their central offices will become data exchange points, where two entities can exchange data directly. A healthcare provider can come and get that data from a service provider's central office and then take it back to their location. One of the things IDC highlighted, which is fascinating, is that the growth of data is outpacing the growth of bandwidth. For every one byte of bandwidth, we have 1 million bytes of data. So we cannot continue to backhaul data to these big data centers. So I believe that service providers have an opportunity to transform this data economy. For two reasons, they are at the lowest latency point. They can preserve many more data uploading bandwidth savings that the enterprises seek. And again, I'll go back to healthcare and manufacturing; they will generate a lot of data. So I think that’s the earliest we can do the data exchanges directly between machines, privately and securely. If you look at a service provider's central office, it is not internet connected. So how do we prepare this new next-generation network for this critical data economy? It's not me watching Netflix or not me on Facebook. My health data needs to be transported urgently, without latency and without performance and losses.

Karen Mangia

My first job in the technology industry was at AT&T, a huge service provider, and I have toured many of the centers you are talking about. What I like about what you're saying, and going back to, what is fixed is flexible, is service providers are an afterthought for a lot of people on a day-to-day basis unless you pick up your mobile phone to call someone and it doesn't work. And then you are conscious that you have a service provider, and you're unhappy with them that your service isn't working. And when you think about the opportunity for refreshing and re-energizing a vital part of our network infrastructure, what I'm hearing you say is perhaps this is our most significant innovation opportunity in some of our long-standing service providers that we're not conscious of on a day to day basis and don't think about inviting into our design sessions or prioritizing our interactions.

Khalid Raza

You're absolutely right. Look what happened to the service in the last 10 or 15 years with Cloud. Everybody just wants to treat them as dumb pipes. Well, they are the closest to the data sources now. They should become part of this ecosystem. And edge computing is flipping the data generation and data consumption points. And whoever is the closest to the data will be the biggest beneficiary. But again, the technologies we've been using for the past 30 years were built for very fixed infrastructure. It is a highly dynamic infrastructure where a medical entity will exchange data at a service provider's central office, and they will be done. Then that computing could be utilized by somebody else in the same location. So it's very ephemeral connections that will create this whole data exchange economy of the future. And the service providers should rethink what they've been building their networks about. Highly flexible, scalable infrastructure that can change in seconds should be a consumption-based, flexible environment, not provisioning-based.

Karen Mangia

And when I think about what you're describing in simple, practical, accessible terms that my soon-to-be 100-year-old grandfather can understand, I think about it this way. Imagine going to a restaurant where every customer could also be cooking the food and serving the food at the same time UberEats and DoorDash are coming. The entire consumption model and who's playing what role are constantly changing.

Khalid Raza

Yes.

Karen Mangia

What does your go-to-market model look like? How do we get ready for this? How will jobs on a day-to-day basis change because of what you're saying?

Khalid Raza

The whole ecosystem is changing so fast that the Internet of consumers will connect a change to the Internet of machines. It's machine-to-machine communication. That's the future. How do I become part of this data-sharing economy? I hold rights to some data. How we pay for the internet will change in the next five years. And the data that I own, I should have rights to that data. And from my perspective, if we are flipping the internet, if you're flipping this whole business model, there's tremendous opportunity from a consumer point of view. The future of enterprise is significantly different than what it is today. The enterprises tomorrow will be more data-oriented. Their line of businesses wants to offer service to that customer, not to sell products; the Internet of Things will be driven by the likes of Honeywell, Maytronics, Thermal Fisher’s, and others who provide the services. So I am fascinated by the future of the internet, which is machine and service-oriented rather than consumer-oriented. So whoever understands how this internet monetization will happen will be the biggest winner. I think the future of the internet belongs more to the enterprise which creates the Internet of Things rather than just the consumer-based internet. And that's an opportunity which line of business, and I'm sure in big companies, are exploring how to convert from product to service.

Karen Mangia

Yes, and you and I get excited about the possibility of being able to create the future. When we think about phrases like machine-to-machine, AI, or chatbots, we may start to get nervous about a world where machines run our lives, particularly in the healthcare world you were talking about. What worries us is context. How context-rich can these networks and machine-to-machine models become? Is there a way to still have human-centered design and context in a world largely becoming ruled by machines and machine-to-machine communication and data?

Khalid Raza

The data that is being generated needs to be processed much faster by machines, but the human interface of the EQ piece machines can never provide. But the data piece that I can look at a particular disease, look at all the customer information, patient information, and then come back and say this is the information, which was noticed by somebody remotely in Australia three years ago, and these were the results. Those results and analysis would be much faster by machine. But how do I interpret it and translate it into the human effect of people that humans would still do? I haven't figured out how healthcare will transform. In the future of healthcare, many doctors will become more data scientists than they do in primary care today. That's my assessment. The way I look at it, they will be handling a lot more data and data coming to them rather than a traditional memory understanding of how diseases work. So we're living in one of the most fascinating times ever.

Karen Mangia

Doctors will become data scientists. I love that because I struggled with a major medical misdiagnosis where I went for three and a half years with mysterious symptoms, and no one could figure out what was wrong. What would happen if technology were even where it is right now to get to a correct diagnosis more quickly? And I firmly believe and agree with what you're saying: essentially that the future belongs to those who create it.

Khalid Yes, yes.

Karen Mangia

And you hold multiple patents. So you are creating and patenting the future. How do you go about inventing something that's patent worthy? And how do you get a patent?

Khalid Raza

From a patent perspective, my most interesting patent was software design when nobody believed in it in 2009-2010. And it's an $8B market now. So it's very critical. I tell people when you have an idea, the number one thing you need to have the courage to say is, “I believe in my idea, and I'm going to go and execute it.” It's okay to fail; it's totally okay to fail. But that courage to go and fail is very critical. And from a patenting perspective, if you are working somewhere and you get an idea to patent, to make a patent individually, you have to jump ship because otherwise, all your ideas belong to the enterprise of the company you're working for. So take a leap of faith. Believe in yourself. And then, once you're out there on your own, file patents. Your ideas belong to you and treat them as such. Otherwise, a patent is always owned by the company you work for.

Karen Mangia

You mentioned your multi-billion-dollar-producing patented idea. Let's get into Graphiant, what you do, the challenge you're trying to solve, and what you see as an opportunity.

Khalid Raza

I love a quote from Bill Gates. He says, “An automation done to an efficient system increases the efficiency. An automation done to an inefficient system increases inefficiency.” And I think we're reaching that point. I believe in the internet environment, we're getting to a point where we're trying to automate legacy technologies that are, in some cases, 30-40 years old. We must evolve, making this network more flexible, reliable, and programmable. What Graphiant is saying is, let's clarify the internet. Let's make it as simple and consumable as possible for enterprise-class internet, which I'm calling business internet. You can connect to our Graphiant in what we call a stateless network. You can program our network how you want to, for your customers and business partners, and connect. So for the next wave of the internet, the data exchange has to be more reliable and programmable. And it should be very dynamic, which it's not today because it's heavily provisioning-based. It has to be programmable. New protocols must evolve from what we've been building for 30-35 years. And that's what I'm very passionate about. And this is what I want to drive: how we transform this precisely. How we change computing for the Cloud is exactly how we need to change the internet for programmability.

Karen Mangia

And you have quite a board behind you on this concept, and you're out evangelizing what it is that's possible. Many people create boards because they're entrepreneurs or already somewhat accountable to them. You must have some strategies for effective board engagement and being strategic, even if it's your board of directors for the people who advise you personally. How do you think through who you surround yourself with when you're a creator, inventor, and visionary?

Khalid Raza

So let me break it into two types. The number one type of board member you look for is always your investors. So the people who invest in you are so important. They are also visionary. And they are aligned with your vision. So my board has someone who truly is one of the greatest investors, Bill Coughran, the VP of engineering at Google. He's one of the most brilliant guys. He's an engineer's engineer. Whenever you talk to Bill, it's always a learning experience. So having somebody like him is phenomenal from a board perspective. My other board member, the first guy to fund an SD-WAN company, is Mike Goguen. Mike was not investing in technology companies. He started his own fund. He left Sequoia Capital and started his own fund, Two Bear Capital. I chased Mike down and said, “Mike, I want you to invest in my company.” Because when he was at Sequoia, we were still waiting for someone to fund our previous company Viptela. Mike and Bill were the two guys who understood this market. So they gave me a lot of insight. From that perspective, investors have to believe, and investors have to understand the industry. And those two gentlemen definitely understand the industry. My third investor board member is Brian. Brian comes from the Semiconductor side. So he brings that European mindset and understanding of how to go global. The second type is your independent board members.


I got very lucky that I was able to get Dave Reilly. Dave Reilly was the CIO of Bank of America. Dave has been phenomenal in giving me insight as a user of technology. When you build these big networks and protect one of the largest banks in the world, your view of the world is very different. Then the other one is Mike Elmore. So if you look at it, my investment board has the technology and the business understanding. My independent board members both have strong business and user understanding. So you must surround yourself with people who have experience, teach you, and challenge you. And these people challenge you because they give you a point of view that you, at times, have not looked at and have not thought about. So every board member who challenges you is one of the most significant assets because it will go back and make you think. I love working with the gentlemen on my board.

Karen Mangia

Challengers are your biggest assets. That's a great takeaway. And with everything you've done and everything you will go on to do, what do you want your legacy from this work to be?

Khalid Raza

I want to leave my mark on the internet. The most significant legacy that people will remember is that you had something to do with the next generation of the internet, the internet of machines, the internet of data. That's the legacy I want to leave with.

Karen Mangia

Amazing. Now comes the part of the interview called Virtual Water Cooler where I ask you five quick questions, and you say what comes to mind. It helps us get to know you better, and then we can pretend we bumped into each other at the Graphiant water cooler. Are you ready?

Khalid Raza

Yes.

Karen Mangia

What time of day do you do your best creative work?

Khalid Raza

Early mornings.

Karen Mangia

Speaking of time, imagine every day has 25 hours instead of 24. How will you spend your extra hour?

Khalid Raza

With my family.

Karen Mangia

If you had to eat one meal daily for the rest of your life? What would it be?

Khalid Raza

Avocado toast.

Karen Mangia

You're embodying Silicon Valley with your answer. The zombie apocalypse is coming. Who are the three people you want on your team?

Khalid Raza

Ali Shaikh, Venu Hemige, and Woody Sessoms.

Karen Mangia

Oh, and I know Woody. Great choice. How can listeners learn more about you and stay connected with your thought leadership and what's happening at Graphiant?

Khalid Raza

Connect with me on LinkedIn because you'll find out regularly what we're doing at Graphiant or go to Graphiant.com.

Karen Mangia

Thank you for sharing with me for Success from Anywhere. Khalid Raza is the founder and CEO of Graphiant and a serial entrepreneur. This is an important interview.


Because success is not a destination.

Success is not a location.

Success is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.


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