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Member Profile: James Bromberger


James Bromberger, head in the clouds

Since Malcolm Gladwell made famous the ‘10,000 hours’ principle (Outliers, 2009) it has been revealed that the author’s interpretation of the original study was overly simplistic and missed a vital point: that only ‘deliberate’ practice – constantly raising the standard expected – not simply repetition, will ever result in mastering your subject of choice.

With more than 20 years experience as a developer in the Linux and Open Source space James Bromberger is the perfect example* of someone who has deliberately and continually challenged himself to dive deeper into his chosen career.
*(By our rudimentary calculations, James should be close to cracking 100,000 hours by now!- Ed.)

An expert in Cloud technologies, with a special interest in Security, James has flourished in an industry built on expectations that are constantly growing and evolving. At a time when standing still is simply not an option, his drive and adaptive nature are a crucial part of his success.

“It’s clear we’re constantly in the middle of technology transitions – IT Services are not simply done; they are either in-use and actively well-maintained, or they should be archived or removed. Anything else demonstrates cost cutting and under-valuation of the digital capability that allows an organisation to operate,” James explains.

Currently Consulting Director at Modis, James also runs an Amazon Web Services (AWS) training consultancy, bridging identified skills gaps through Nephology, along with keeping an almost 20 year commitment as Developer at Debian.

Clients and colleagues alike consistently describe James as an enthusiastic, highly skilled industry expert, highly regarded in the Open Source community; a practitioner whose vision and commitment distinguish him from the crowd.

James’ interest in IT began at a young age, but it’s not just good fortune that landed James in the right career – he had the foresight to recognise the potential of these early technologies-

“While still in high school I started doing all the IT work for a family business, and saw there was so much work in the space and thought it must have some future,” he says.

It was at the University of WA, while studying computing and mathematics that James first learned of the Internet, Open Source and Linux, which led to becoming one of the Debian Linux developers.

Although not everything about the course was cutting edge, James recalls-

“Pascal? No one has ever asked me if I can do Pascal”.

But he credits his interest in what was happening in the larger landscape of technology as the one thing that really gave him an advantage, most importantly, in what Tim Berners-Lee was doing with text markup languages and simple request response protocols – the work that was to become The Web.

Over his career, his interest in security has become a well-developed passion and a professional specialisation, one which he writes about regularly and in detail on his blog-

“Driven by a desire to not change things that appear to be working (or indeed, being either lazy, overworked, under resourced/funded, or unaware), organisations are not bringing up their drawbridge of security on their most vulnerable interfaces: those services that are facing the Internet, such as their web site or web services. This issue, when it breaks, will help highlight that some organisations and individuals should probably not be in charge of the services they currently operate.”

In 2003 James ran the Australian national Linux conference, then moved to London where he worked for Canon Europe running the largest online photo archive in Europe, later joining Vibrant Media to manage a team of engineers across Hamburg, Paris, London, New York and San Francisco.

In 2012 James opened the Perth office of AWS ahead of its Australian launch, serving as their Solution Architect for APAC with a ‘depth in security’.

Building on this knowledge with 8 AWS certifications, in 2017 James was invited to join the AWS Partner Cloud Warrior Program and also the AWS Ambassador programme.

We ask James Bromberger the IAA Q&A…

Did you plan a career in IT/telecommunications? Is this the career you saw yourself having?

From primary school I was fascinated with IT, but didn’t have a computer until I was in late high school (a 286 DX-33 with a hard drive and MS DOS 3.0 was where I started). Microsoft Quick BASIC was my first programming language, making X-Y plots of mathematical functions during high school. On leaving high school I through IT may have some future, so I did a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematics at UWA.

If you could give your past self some advice, what would it be?
Don’t by Telstra shares! Dive deep on details, and simplify wherever possible (things are complicated enough as they are).

iOS or Android?

Android. Walled gardens are nice, but explorers sometimes want to see how the wall is built.

What is your favourite technology news source and why?

Twitter: Reasonably real time, raw, often direct from the developer or organisations I am interested in, and interactive.  My other favourite news sources is my friends in industry; sharing concrete examples of what we’ve discovered and done is always nice.

What are you most excited about when you think about technology innovations and the future?
Well, since the paperless office and telecommuting have not been as ubiquitous as promised (Simon Reeve and the Beyond 2000 TV show of the late 90’s has a lot to answer for), I don’t see any major revolutions, just continual incremental improvements. We’ve digitised so much of our lives; TV (broadcast -> streaming/Netflix), Music (tape -> CD -> MP3 -> AAC), business systems, etc, but that’s just made consumption of digital services faster, not necessarily cheaper (it’s been cheaper for the vendor to supply. Where once innovation could stand for innovation’s sake, there’s so much commerce riding on this that innovation has to mean business case.

What is the first games console you owned, and favourite game on it?
Playstation 2, but after it had been out for about 10 years. There was this Die Hard game that my wife loved.

What would you like to see happen in the industry over the next 10 years?
I think our education system has become adept at creating digital consumers, people who can use a word processor, send an email, and have a social media presence, but we’re not seeing enough people tinkering at the lower levels or technologies, to become the next wave of curators of the fundamental infrastructure that society has come to rely on.

What is your favourite way to unwind from technology?

Spending time with my family, going camping,  playing games. I’ve just introduced my 8 year old to my Choose Your Own Adventure books, and seeing him  take to the concept of “this is not a normal book”.

You can follow James on his blog:

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