UniForum Board Candidates Name Priorities

June election will determine who will fill four seats

Ten candidates, including four incumbents, are running for four seats on the UniForum Association Board of Directors. UniNews asked each the 10 nominees to answer four questions. Presented here are the replies from five candidates; the answers of the remaining five will appear in the next issue. The nominees answering below are:

1. Describe your own work and how you use or are affected by open systems on the job.

Arfman: Everything I am doing revolves around open systems. My title is Program Manager for Open Systems. For the last six years, I have had some of the most exciting assignments in my career:

From a user point of view, I would like to see the benefits of open systems arrive sooner at my desk, particularly since so many of my work relationships are outside of my own company.

Fowler: I am responsible for the overall architecture of computer systems, capacity and performance, and the provision of systems hardware, software and data communications networks to the Toronto Stock Exchange. The exchange began its investment in open systems under my direction in 1989 with the acquisition of Data General Aviion and Pyramid systems as development platforms for our trading and information distribution applications, the selection of TCP/IP as our network standard and the selection of Oracle as our database standard. Since then, we have expanded that investment to over 30 UNIX servers from six suppliers and 250 desktop systems from four suppliers. My job absolutely depends on both the features and operation of open systems as well as the ongoing success of the open systems marketplace. Without open systems, we could not operate our business.

Lachman: I am chairman and founder of Lachman Technology, an organization that developed and sold more than a million copies of Lachman Streamware TCP and System V NFS, as part of SCO UNIX, UNIXWare and dozens of other vendors' workstations, servers and embedded systems. My company is expanding into network storage management with our Open Storage Management family of software. I have been a strong industry advocate of open systems, including the UNIX operating system. I have also been active in UniForum since its inception and have also been involved in OSF and the UNIX International Executive Committee and in commercial support of a number of standards efforts, including DMIG, IEEE groups, IETF, X/Open, USENIX and others. I have also been part of dozens of UNIX ports and hundreds of open systems consulting engagements through Lachman Associates, Interactive Systems, Praxsys (creators of Wabi) and other companies.

Pieper: In the world of communications, ATM has created a wealth of opportunity, but it has also created a convergence issue between the local-area and wide-area environments. Ungermann-Bass sees tremendous potential for user communications if we can create a fully-integrated and interoperable LAN/WAN computing and networking environment. Therefore, I am placing an emphasis on partnerships that will produce and end-to-end networking solution, and I am trying to urge the ATM Forum to take an open systems approach to defining ATM.

Siembieda: My responsibilities involve the planning and development of applications that support the investment processes at Scudder, Stevens & Clark, a large asset management firm which manages money for non-profit organizations, foundations, universities, corporations and private individuals, as well as publicly listed mutual funds. Open systems have been the key for unlocking access to internal and external data and providing better interoperability for systems that share data among traders, portfolio managers, client service personnel and administrators.

2. Over the course of the next two years (the full term of office) what areas of the association's activities would occupy your attention the most, and why?

Arfman: As board member, I would help drive UniForum's growth and unifying role in several important areas:

Fowler: To successfully allow my company to move to our stated direction of only open systems in the operation of our business, the open systems market must supply management tools that both meet requirements at least equivalent to those being met in current legacy systems as well as use the extensive features and facilities already available in open systems. It is essential that we avoid a simple duplication of products and tools that operate well in a mainframe environment but that do not meet the needs of or exploit open systems client-server technologies. I believe the UniForum can act as a catalyst in both the generation of clearly stated, meaningful requirements for open systems management and the fostering of vendor cooperation in the production of management tools that meet those requirements. I anticipate that I will spend my time on the Board of UniForum helping to generate an industry-wide understanding of customer system management requirements and helping vendors move to a common framework or architecture for providing products to meet those requirements.

How I would accomplish these goals would be through processes like experience sharing through the various UniForum publications and conferences, encouraging UniForum to act as a focal point for the various groups concerned with systems management and working with the many current and potential vendors of products.

Lachman: One of my roles as part of the UniForum board over the past two years has been as a strategic planning facilitator. I hope to continue this, and the output from these processes will drive my attention and efforts.

Here are some of the thrusts we have been discussing that will be occupying my attention:

Value proposition for members and open systems users; more and better services for open systems users; outreach to affiliate groups and programs of value for them; continued advocacy of open systems; continued and enhanced leadership of the UniForum conference and trade show; expanding the role of open systems advocacy beyond UNIX, particularly to support users of the Internet and increase the Internet's value; a continued thrust in publications; investigation of new conferences, trade shows and educational services; coordination, cooperation and synchronization of value provided by UniForum compared to other open systems organizations, possibly including further outreach to organizations such as USENIX, X/Open, the Internet Society, IETF, IEEE, OSF, UNIX-oriented vendor groups such as UNIXWare Technology Group, Solaris users, Interex, Decus and others.

Pieper: I would concentrate on broadening the association's activities to fully encompass the networking arena. Because of the imminent convergence of the information industries into ATM - or a similar technology - it is critical to bring the open systems philosophy into that melting pot so that we can turn technological innovation into real value.

Siembieda: If elected, I would like the opportunity to work with the Board in seeking to improve communications to the management of user organizations. I believe the ideals of open systems and open systems management should be communicated to decision makers with an emphasis on the facts and a non-technical explanation of just exactly what to expect - in short, explaining what's in it for them. I believe the modern executive expects to leverage technology, but he or she does not know exactly how or when. Feedback can be critical, since it is usually market forces that ultimately drive technical development. Better communication can also educate the user community and service management regarding the components of open systems and the skills that are required to advance along an open systems path. Organizations should understand how and why roles and responsibilities will undoubtedly continue changing in the field of technology management and development, with users driving and managing the change process.

3. There are many areas where UniForum can be active and play a role as an information resource, from education to publishing to standardization work. Where should UniForum concentrate its efforts and why?

Arfman: I don't think that anyone in the industry could bear creation of another standardization organization or effort! Where UniForum can provide the greatest good to its members and the industry is by being the unifier, and source of information. I therefore see education and publishing as very important, along with the programs provided through the yearly meeting. However, we should start to think about programs not necessarily tied to the yearly meetings. And above all, adapt quickly to change and think in non-traditional ways!

Fowler: I believe that UniForum must be the recognized spokesperson or group for open systems to the information systems as a whole. We must foster the image of vendors and customers cooperating within the framework of an open systems architecture while preserving the underlying competitive environment that has resulted in the extraordinary level of innovation in the open systems world. UniForum represents the largest single resource of open systems experience in the industry with a unique blend of people with both vendor and customer perspectives.

That resource must be effectively used to ensure that the open systems market remains successful. As such, I believe that UniForum should concentrate on fostering cooperation on and convergence of standards within open systems. I also believe that we must share our positive experiences with those who are considering open systems and collect and prioritize our needs and requirements, based on that experience, in areas such as systems management, common applications programming interfaces and the ongoing COSE efforts.

UniForum should also monitor and report on these efforts to the industry as a whole so that we do not lose sight of promises made or broken and progress toward our common goals.

Lachman: It's a hard choice but I would rank education first. Education, as I see it, includes publishing, not only to learn about the topics related to open systems but also changes, news and trends. The primary role of UniForum as an organization is to get more of the world in touch with and informed about open systems.

My second-ranked concentration area is advocacy for open systems and standards. Although UniForum has passed the torch of defining the operating systems interface to X/Open and IEEE, there are new areas that need standardization that UniForum should consider funding. Open systems application interfaces need to dovetail better with object management, intelligent network agents, telephony and multimedia. Within the Internet or other "information highway" vehicles, we need standard ways to find information. Information access is vital: the ability to get to information you want in the form and the way you need it, cheaply, quickly, globally and designed with the potential for universal access - scalable for use by everyone.

Historically, UniForum and other organizations have viewed standards and APIs from the vendor perspective: "What system should we (the vendor) provide?" Over the next two years I plan to work to reorient UniForum to the user perspective: "What applications do we (the users) need or want?"

In summary, I put education first, then advocacy to enhance the current position of open systems and move forward into future orientations. That might lead to standardization efforts that should involve cooperation with some other organizations.

Pieper: Marketing open systems to the networking world is a major area of opportunity moving forward. While the open systems approach is well understood in the computing world, it is not welcomed in the proprietary networking world. The differences between computer operating systems and network operating systems are blurring, and the glue that is so critical to linking users is going to be even more critical to linking groups of users in the "total area network" (LAN and WAN).

Siembieda: Among the many roles that UniForum can plan, I believe information gatherer is just as important as information transmitter. While it is technically interesting to hear and understand the broad array of product announcements and standards evolution, UniForum can be a powerful ear to the marketplace. UniForum is positioned to be an unbiased marketplace observer seeking a better understanding of what is important to decision makers without being perceived as blindly trying to link needs with products. UniForum should use its members and reach to understand key business driven needs. It should focus resources on this information retrieval process to provide feedback to the users and a meaningful task list to technology industry vendors.

4. How has your own opinion of UniForum changed (or has it?) over time, and what are the three biggest challenges the association must face over the next two years?

Arfman: My experiences with UniForum in the past year have had a dramatic impact on my opinions. As chair of the planning team for the COSE Common Desktop Environment Developers' Conference, I was instrumental in turning over management and sponsorship to UniForum in May of 1993. This was something that UniForum had not done before. The success or failure would affect not only UniForum, but HP, IBM, Novell, SCO and Sun. You can well imagine that there were some nervous executives! To UniForum's credit, the conference was a big success, not just from our point of view, but also as direct input from the attendee survey. More than anything else, this has shaped my opinion that UniForum is a "can-do" organization, with the right vision and ability to execute.

The big challenges that UniForum must face over the next two years are to keep on its revitalized track, and to keep renewing itself. This is a very dynamic industry, and to not only keep up with it but to be a contributor and vital force, UniForum needs dynamic leadership and active membership. The third challenge is to enlarge its role beyond UNIX and outside the U.S. Its motto is "The International Association of Open Systems Professionals." Traditional boundaries are disappearing fast.

Fowler: I have enjoyed watching UniForum and, particularly, the annual conference, become the place where cooperative efforts are announced and where related user groups feel they can meet. I also believe that UniForum is taking a much more proactive role in fostering cooperation and in publicizing open systems.

Over the next two years, UniForum will be challenged by:

Lachman: Challenge #1: The most visible activity of the UniForum Association is undoubtedly its trade show. Our recent efforts on the 1994 show have demonstrated that UniForum is heading out on the "open highway," expanding as a show central to trends involving the Internet. A key challenge is to keep the show vibrant, interesting and in touch with the trends in our industry.

Challenge #2: We have to transition UniForum into a stronger professional and user organization. To do this we need to create programs that foster user involvement, continue to work on our value proposition to members worldwide, and position ourselves as the open systems user organization. We should expand our membership and become known as the voice of users speaking to vendors to direct vendors to fulfill our needs.

Challenge #3: We need to be an advocate to carry the torch of open systems. Although the UNIX flame still burns, I think that it is more important to spread the light of open systems - portability, scalability, manageability, reusability, interoperability - to more users and help them build and use applications that capitalize on the advantages of open systems.

Pieper: The importance of UniForum is only increasing over time and as technology develops. The greatest challenges that will face the organization in the next few years are 1) broadening its scope to encompass the new "global communications environment" of the future; 2) focusing on networking as a key area of influence; and 3) changing the mind set of a predominantly proprietary industry.

Siembieda: My own opinion of UniForum has changed over time. I viewed UniForum as a vendor-driven technology-oriented committee with the aim of better communicating the evolution of UNIX standards. I was wrong! UniForum does have the key involvement of members in organizations around the world who are relying on open systems to achieve their information goals. However, I feel it still has a strong technology focus. The key challenges in the next two years may well be to:

UniForum urges all General Members to vote in the Board of Directors election. Look for ballots with complete biographical information and candidate position statements in the mail in June.