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Blog It Forward – Frank Köhntopp

Tom Van Doorslaer was kind enough to Blog It Forward to me (you could read Moshe’s blog that kicked it off, but if you got to this one I’m pretty sure you already read some of the other BIF blogs…)



My name is Frank Köhntopp – I work in SAP’s Security Validation Team (we try to break our own software), I’m a SAP Mentor, a geek and an amateur photographer (which is the reason there are next to no pictures of me – I’m always on the wrong side of the camera 😉 ).

My love affair with IT started around 1980 with my first home computer that had 1 KiloByte of RAM (yes, you read that right…). Back then you’d learn the assembler code in the ROM by heart, and you’d understand how to move each dot in the screen. I don’t necessarily miss that, but it makes me sad that our kids will never be able to learn the basics like we did.

2005-08-20-14-43-45 (1).jpg

I’m sharing Thorsten’s passion for Single Malt, which is something we need to take up as a team – maybe a Mentor Tasting is in order… 😉

I have worked in security related jobs since 1991 and have spent 6 years with customers as a consultant for SAP security matters. I have a passion for quality (may have been exposed to Apple products for too long) and enjoy being able to bring the customer perspective into our internal processes.

When I joined SAP in 2005 engaging in SCN (then-SDN) was a no-brainer for me. I quickly got to know people like Craig and Gali and consequently started working as a moderator in the GRC and Security forums.


One of the highlights of my community experience was riding the Cluetrain in 2009 which gave me some quality time with a group of awesome people (here are some pictures). An event that’s worth repeating, unfortunately taking the train to Madrid is probably not an option…


I live in a (very) small town called ‘Wendelsheim‘ with my wife, two girls and a cat, in the middle of germany’s beautiful wine county ‘Rheinhessen‘. Unfortunately I can’t tell you a lot about the town as we only moved there last October. It’s a bit of ‘back to the roots’ for me as it’s an even smaller town than the one I grew up in (which I thought wasn’t possible); in between starting work life in 1991 and this we lived in 9 other places before settling here. It’s a 100km commute to Starship Enterprisey, but I actually enjoy the drive, which is the only time I get to listen to podcasts. I actually am on the road more than during my Consulting days… <sigh>

OK, let me try to answer Tom’s questions:

What’s your favourite food?


That’s a bit of a difficult one, as I’m not really a foodie at all. Eating is a neccessity for me, which is probably why I’m still eating too much crap. The consulting years really didn’t help (fast food chains and gas stations being the major source of food), which is why I hope I can follow Thorsten’s example (but not too that extreme…).

Which 5 things do you absolutely want to achieve in life?

5? That’s quite a lot…

Again, for most of the cool stuff – like being a rock star – the time has already passed. One of my dreams always was to retire in a small cottage in Ireland with its own lake, that probably still has a tiny bit of a chance of happening.

I’m usually more of a ‘carpe diem’ guy, i.e. trying to enjoy the current day instead of planning for a distant future. I hope I manage to grow into being a good father to my kids and helping them find their own way through this complicated thing called life. It feels like the older you get the faster time passes, so I hope there’ll be enough of it to make that happen – it’s amazing how fast kids grow up.

Sorry, have to draw a blank on this question as well, I’m afraid…

Can youtell us something about your hobby?


Finally an easy one!

I really enjoy taking pictures, I bought my first SLR with the money I received as a confirmation gift when I was 14. I’m still a bloody amateur more than 30 years into it, but it’s the closest thing to creating art that I’m capable of doing.

In recent years I have given into the temptation of buying more and more different gear as technology improved, my goal for the immediate future is to learn and focus on the craft instead. I have already taken part in a workshop with a decent photographer this year which has given me so much inspiration; I’ll try to do that more often in the future.

Next questions, please!

Now it’s up to me to come up with 3 questions. I’m lazy, it’s late, so I’ll make it easy: tell us 3 things we don’t know about you. One of them should be at least a bit embarrassing 😉 (idea shamelessly pulled from my blog).

I’ll blog it forward to

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  • Great pictures! I can relate to the Single Malt part, my favourites are the Islay Whiskeys, peaty, smoky and all...

    I bet the 1K machine was a Sinclair ZX81? I had it borrowed from my cousin at the time, luckily with the 16K extension attached to the back, so I could spend even more hours typing in tic tac toe programs from magazines.



    • You were obviously a spoiled kid - I had the ZX80 which turned of the screen whenever it did something, obviously not suited for video games 😉

  • Great pictures as always Frank

    I started programming learning BASIC, Pascal, Fortran; in a college class long time ago an instructor said "you'll never need more than 64K in memory"...hmmm

    We can count on you for great photos; I thought you were a professional photographer by all the great pictures I've seen.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • We started with BASIC at home, but learned UCSD Pascal on Apple II in school - which were way to expensive to own personally. We even used 5.25" Floppies on both sides 😉

  • I love it Frank!  The part where you went into the way-back machine, and wrote about having 1 KB RAM.  My first real programming job was for a *different* German company, Nixdorf, and we had to learn to write code that could be over-written by later code without the 'program' breaking.  A dot on a display?  Hah, we had a 32 character one line display!

    We will have to set up a shoot-off between you and Martin Gillet, huh?

  • Nice blog post Frank! Love the widescreen black/white photos - go nicely with the page layout!

    I can relate to what you wrote about your first computer and that the coming generations may never be as fascinated about these machines and how they work as we are. Guess that's how our grandfathers must feel in regards to cars...

    Take my youngest daughter (4yo) for example - she sure likes to play with the iPad, yet she grew up with it and just takes it for granted, while her dad is still amazed on a daily basis about the way the web and now mobile devices changed our lives fundamentally! (Maybe it's a sign of growing old 😯 )

    • Thanks Matthias!

      I don't think it's just about growing old - it's just that current generations move away from the building blocks of everything much too fast.

      Even though my understanding of 6502 assembler has no practical relevance anymore, having gone through that lets me 'see' why things are the way they are, which is something younger people can't ("the printer's not printing!"). Understanding TCP/IP lets me see why when a page doesn't load switching it on and off again may not help. I enjoy that privilege, but I find it hard to communicate with people that are just soooo far away from that. In order to explain your kid why a game doesn't work would require you to re-trace all that ("Look, it's trying to log you in, but the WiFi Icon is off, which means you have lost connection to the router, and you need to reconnect"). Difficult...

      On the other hand, what opportunity! Kids grow up with the complete knowledge of the universe at their hands, anything they want to know is just one Google search away. It will be interesting to watch if that makes them smarter than we were 😉

      The challenge will be to tickle their curiosity when everything can just easily be found... where do researchers and explorers come from nowadays...?

  • Hi Frank,

    Don't you think you would be cold in Ireland? Don't you prefer a warmer climate?:)

    I also recently strated taking my first steps in Photography. Here is an album of some cool (I hope:)) pictures I took.

    Thanks for joining BIF!

  • Hi Frank,

    I think you like photograph! I see most of the pics are in black and white. Nice pics and wonderful presentation. Keep up the good work! Keep sharing good things like this. 🙂


    Hari Suseelan