My name is Markus Schumacher, born in 1973, and I live in the Bergstraße district (Hesse). In this blog, I exchange ideas on topics that have literally "occupied" me for many years: Technology, Entrepreneurship and "Toys". This post outlines how I got into it.
Computers have fascinated me since I was a child. The conscious starting shot of my nerd career was in 1985, when my parents gave me a Commodore C64. Besides playing games, I quickly became fascinated with designing with a computer and still do today. By the way, I still have the C64 (see picture).
This hobby led me to study electrical engineering at the TU Darmstadt. When I couldn't find a reasonable job during the semester break in 1996, I decided to participate in a programming internship to learn the then new language Java . After Assembler and C in my studies, this was a completely new experience and set the course for the future. Equipped with this knowledge, I quickly got a job at an advertising agency in Frankfurt to design the first applets for websites of financial companies.
Thus infected, I decided to stay at the university and do my doctorate. I started this in 1998 at the IT Transfer Office (ITO) , an organization of the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt that kept itself alive exclusively through externally funded projects, initially sponsored by the Digital Equipment Corporation. This awakened the entrepreneurial streak in me. The creative freedom, but also the entrepreneurial risk (no project, no job, no PhD) of this time had a great impact on me. It also made me aware early on that technology alone is not enough to sell products or services on the market.
Without teaching duties, however, I lacked contact with the students. Therefore, building on my childhood experiences with computers, I created the Hacker Contest . The goal was to investigate current technologies (new at the time: WLAN, Bluetooth, etc.). In teams the participants took the role of attacker and defender. This initiative was continued for many years, even after I left the university.
In May 2003 I successfully completed my doctorate "with distinction". The topic was Security Patterns, a topic I have been dealing with for many years. Patterns originally come from architecture. The idea is that no architect can learn how to build beautiful houses. You need experience to do that - and that's what is captured in a pattern. The idea was transferred to software (sgt. Design Patterns) and I then adapted and described it for security.
Equipped with this know-how, I decided to go "out" after my doctorate. I had been offered a junior professorship, but that was still quite new at the time and not very attractive to me. I therefore used my ITO contacts and quickly found a job at SAP as a product manager for security. At that time, SAP was another project partner of the ITO and had taken over the Lab in Karlsruhe with which we had cooperated. During this time, the "old" SAP base in NetWeaver (Release 640+) and I was able to learn a lot about the different SAP technologies during this time, most recently during the conversion from an idea to the generally available product SAP Business ByDesign.
The topic of security was and is a matter of the heart for me for many years. However, I have not understood it in the sense of a function for protection, like logging something in with a name and password. Rather, it has always been more exciting for me to understand what gaps a system has, how to exploit them, and what you have to do to be "bulletproof". Since I also noticed that SAP customers do a lot of their own development, the next step was bound to happen. When programming and when systems are complex, gaps are almost bound to occur. So it was clear that I would leave SAP in 2006 and, together with a business partner I met at SAP, I founded the Virtual Forge GmbH together with a business partner I met at SAP. Incidentally, I recruited many of the first employees who then carried out SAP-focused penetration tests from the cohorts of participants in the Hacker Contest.
I had some ideas in my luggage about what can be done in the SAP environment that is not offered by the SAP standard. This resulted in another pioneering topic: scanning SAP ABAP code for security vulnerabilities. The resulting solution CodeProfiler for ABAP (version 1.0 presented at the SAP TechEd in Berlin in 2009) is still a market-leading solution today. During this time our book "Secure ABAP Programming" was published. It has not lost much of its topicality, because although there are some new programming constructs in the SAP environment, "old-school" ABAP is far from being at an end.
Virtual Forge was the practical introduction to business management for me. Exclusively self-financed, we have managed to reinvent the company over the years to stay ahead in the market and survive. As CEO and Managing Director, I spent many years looking after sales (how do I sell the value of technology), marketing (which customers do I target and how do they find me) and administration. All the while, tough decisions had to be made and my own compass readjusted: this included the company strategy and its implementation. With about 120 employees, we decided in 2018 to go in search of growth capital so we could be strategic (vs. reactive). This eventually ended with the sale of the company(mid-2019) to market competitor Onapsis, where I was an employee for the first time in many years as General Manager Europe.
Since the beginning of 2021, I am now self-employed again with the idea of sharing experiences I have gained on the path to entrepreneurship outlined here. It goes as written at the beginning all facets of entrepreneurship and technical topics. I will always describe "toys" besides the job. By that I mean things that you can afford to do as an adult and that are one thing above all: fun.