Name: Sukan Makmuri
Place of Birth: Island of Java, Indonesia
Position: Vice President, Enterprise Architecture and Standards, Bank of America, Concord, CA
Family: Married, with children aged 3 and 5
Car He Drives: 1994 Chrysler Town & Country
Nonwork Activities: Golf, skiing, reading books on business strategy and technology
On the Future of Open Systems: "Microsoft is perceived as a very big threat in the Unix community. It will be interesting for the user community if Microsoft can ever provide performance comparable to Unix-based systems and still maintain its pricing structure."
On UniForum: "In the late '80s, UniForum was concentrating on Unix only, and you can't blame them because not everyone knew what Unix was. But now, how do we integrate our solutions based on the available technology? How do we ensure that we move in the right direction so that we don't get locked into the wrong solution? How do we ensure that the solution we build will actually be expandable and that we can integrate it with the new technologies, paradigms and tools that don't exist now? The challenge is in providing that vision to the members and providing them with knowledge, understanding and options for their solutions."
Sukan Makmuri took an unconventional approach to his college career. For two years and one quarter of the third year, he labored under superhuman academic loads of 22 to 28 units per quarter, earning nearly all the credits he needed for his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. By the end of the first year, he had discovered that UC Berkeley would have been more to his liking, academically speaking, but it was too late to transfer. So, having picked up on the notion of UCSB as a party school, he partied for two quarters, immersing himself in courses like golf, volleyball, skiing, scuba diving, sailing, tennis and gymnastics. Then, suitably refreshed, he went on to higher academic and professional goals.
Actually, Makmuri's naivete on the subject of American campus culture is understandable. He was born and grew up on the island of Java in Indonesia. "I have 19 years of Java experience," Makmuri deadpans, tongue firmly in cheek. Today, as a vice president of Bank of America and a member of the UniForum Technical Steering Committee, with 12 years of open systems experience behind him, he can look back on those days and smile.
Adversity and Perseverance
However, Makmuri has always been serious about his goals. He was steered away from his boyhood thoughts of a medical career and since then has been focused on technology. His parents had saved enough to send him to college in the United States, but it wasn't easy for them. For one thing, his father's income from an export-import business and two underwear factories had dwindled, so the family was getting by on savings. For another, the monthly tuition at a U.S. school equals the annual income of a lower-middle-income family in Indonesia. "My parents had some substantial savings, but they had to sell off some of their properties to pay my tuition. My father had managed to save up for the family, but he had to go out of his way in order to support me."
"Unstable politics also played a part in his decision to leave Java."
Unstable politics also played a part in his decision to leave Java. In the early 1960s, the Communist party had been active in Indonesia and some high-ranking Indonesian officials were killed. Holders of joint Chinese and Indonesian citizenship were forced to drop one or the other. Some, including Sukan's family, had to change their names. "There were things that were unsettling and--although a low probability--we were worried that the Indonesian government would be toppled if the Communist regime started moving to the south to occupy Indonesia," Makmuri recalls. "The first thing is to send the kids out for education abroad rather than stay and risk being overrun."
So, coming from a family where no English was spoken and with a small bit of high-school English instruction, he headed for U.S. shores. As he progressed toward his engineering degree, he stumbled onto computers. "I had wholeheartedly gone for mechanical engineering, but when I took a computer class in the second quarter, I got hooked on it," he says. "I thought 'This is kind of fun.' I was struggling with English at that time and that was a different kind of language. I took more languages like C and Pascal. I also decided I wanted to motivate people and get the most out of them. One way to do that is to get a formal education in engineering management."
So after completing his degree at UCSB in 1982, Makmuri decided on Stanford University for graduate work. He completed a master's in engineering management in nine months, then went on to Rice University in Houston, where he was a Ph.D. candidate in computer science. With money running low, Makmuri was surviving with stipends from the university when he got bad news: the death of his father. "I had to change my plan," he says. "I had to change directions so that I could become the supporter of the family."
After forgoing the Ph.D. and getting his MS in computer science from Rice in 1984, he went to work for USWest Advanced Technologies. As a technical staff member for the regional Bell operating company following the breakup of AT&T, he worked first in Nebraska and later in Colorado. "I had acquired pretty good skills in Unix, so I thought I would like to focus on that," he says. "I wanted to focus on the application of technology, to see how to leverage that for fulfilling business needs." One of his several projects was to co-architect a new software platform, resulting in more consistent distributed object-oriented applications within the company. He also proposed the creation and funding of an artificial intelligence group, then led that team in business process reengineering using expert system and voice technology. "One of the things we did was to look at how the best sales person from a particular business unit sold services and products. We formulated all the questions and answers that the top salesperson gave to customers and ran it on a PC so that all the reps could emulate it." The group also pioneered a way for customers to get account information by dialing in.
"It was in Nebraska where Makmuri first became involved with user groups, founding a local Unix organization that was later affiliated with UniForum."
It was in Nebraska where Makmuri first became involved with user groups, founding a local Unix organization that was later affiliated with UniForum. He later founded three other user organizations.
In Colorado, Makmuri was part of a small team of USWest system architects that defined the architecture for a distributed technology platform. One of the objectives was to ensure transaction integrity and data integrity for data that moves from one of several legacy back ends to a front end within a distributed system, so that all data related to a particular customer could be kept continuously updated and accurate. "We had 1,100-plus legacy applications that were handed down from God, meaning AT&T," he remembers. "The RBOCs had the opportunity to develop their own solutions, but like a tame animal suddenly left out in the wild, it took awhile to get adjusted to."
In 1988 Makmuri returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to stay, joining Teknekron Communications as senior software engineer. There he worked on two object-oriented OSI (Open Systems Interconnection)-compliant network management systems-one an element manager and the other a protocol conversion.
Makmuri's next career move was to the San Francisco firm Interactive Development Environment to join IDE and its founder Tony Wasserman in the company's development of computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools. "We wanted to provide a picture-based interface for people to use to design their code before they started coding," Makmuri says. The two product lines he was responsible for contained between 500,000 and 600,000 lines of code each. "I had to learn the common threads between those two. We used a common library, so I had to make a change in one and be sure it didn't affect the other products."
After two years at IDE, Makmuri moved to Renaissance Software, where he led the design and implementation of several objects in Opus, a family of derivative trading systems. The customers included large Japanese banks. "We had a lot of Ph.D.s in applied math working on the algorithms, and an army of engineers (in a startup, 14 engineers is an army) developing the solution itself. Our object-oriented architecture had both a GUI interface and a command-line interface, and they had to be consistent in the way each interfaces with the engine."
Makmuri's next job was as a senior consultant with CSC Consulting, where he gave IT advice to clients in the insurance, pharmacy, manufacturing, financial services and health services industries. "I was a consultant's consultant," he says. "We had consultants that sometimes needed answers and I was able to advise them. In some cases we were moving in a certain direction and I was able to catch that before we went too far. As an IT architect, I defined certain architectures in a few engagements, as well as reviewed the technical architecture and risk management of several large engagements."
"Most corporations waste valuable resources in developing and maintaining duplicate and inconsistent entries of the same piece of information."
Since 1995, Makmuri has been a vice president with Bank of America in Concord, CA. He currently works on part of the strategy architecture and standards for the bank's enterprise architecture, focusing on directory services. Directory services deals, among other things, with the integration of groupware solutions like e-mail and electronic commerce over the Internet. "Certain information about various things--such as individuals' contact information services for distributed applications, equipment in the network, products and services and MIS reporting--need to be stored in such a way that it can be easily accessible. Most corporations waste valuable resources in developing and maintaining duplicate and inconsistent entries of the same piece of information in non-interoperable directories. For example, your name and telephone account information may appear in a few dozen of the telephone company's directories. Some are more reliable than others, and it takes experience to determine which directory contains the accurate data and how to propagate changes to the data. The widespread adoption of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a key enabler in facilitating the integration of these disparate directories. With the explosive growth of intranets and the Internet, directory services performs an additional role of storing digital certificates for secure messaging, including electronic commerce over the Internet and protection of sensitive data (such as HR) in the intranet."
In addition to his contributions to UniForum, Makmuri is a member of the board of directors of the Message Oriented Middleware Association and chair of that organization's user group. He also co-chairs the Software Forum's Unix Special Interest Group and participates in international standards efforts. With his background as a user group founder, he maintains an active interest in the needs of users. Commenting on the UniForum/Open Group operational merger, he says, "It's almost like mixing oil and water. UniForum has always been geared to the end users and The Open Group has been oriented more toward the vendors, so the interests of these two groups may sometimes conflict. The challenge here is that we have to be sensitive to the end users' needs as well as fulfilling the vendors' interest in telling the users what technology is here now vs. what is in the future. I don't envy the people who are putting this together, because it's going to be a challenging task to satisfy both sides."
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