E25 - Ruben Van Den Brink at AMS-IX

James Dean
Ruben Van Den Brink

By James Dean & Ruben Van Den Brink

On today’s episode of The Route to Networking, James Dean was joined by Ruben Van Den Brink, the Chief Technology Officer at AMS-IX. Some of the things they cover during the episode are the transition of jumping into a CTO role, the opportunities it gave him and his views on the university route.

Ruben had an unexpected start to his career, starting out as a Mathematician. He first went to an agricultural university, studying biotechnology, which was relatively new in the 90s. Eventually, the courses became too practical for him, and he decided he didn’t want to design bioreactors but actually wanted to learn more about the nature of things, so he took up mathematics and physics courses on quantum mechanics. Eventually, he got his MSc degree in mathematics and that is where it all started.

He ended up looking for job offerings and saw a job for an Audiovisual consultant in the broadcast industry. Although he lacked experience, it didn’t deter him, made a bold move, and got invited to an interview. They gave him a job as a Service Coordinator and his maths background came in handy for learning about IT instead of quantum technology.

It was his first step into the IT space, and he learned about storage, and networking, and gained a lot of organisational skills. The last few years there were really focused on managing the data centre. After that, Ruben was given the opportunity to work for SURFnet, a research and education network in the Netherlands, serving all the universities and research institutes over there. He built on his Network and IT knowledge that he already had and was focused a lot more on the internet, which he loved.

For anyone wondering what route they should take into networking, Ruben says that for him, university was very useful. It’s not the only way to progress in your career though but it’s all about experimenting, trying, and failing, how else will you discover what you enjoy?

An average day as a CTO…

There’s a team to manage, a development team and a team who work on implementation and operations on the platform. As CTO, he talks to suppliers, partners, and customers of the platform. Before the pandemic, they were a travelling organisation, they’d travel a lot to different events, and give talks at conferences so as you can imagine, they’ve had a huge adjustment period since then.

The internet is now too big to fail and it’s because of IXs that we can reduce latency and improve stability but operating a high availability platform like AMS-IX is challenging. Also, as the industry is always developing, so do we. We have to work on new services and products to make sure our customers will stay happy with us.

Ruben gives out his best piece of advice for anyone looking to get into the industry. Make sure you tune in now to find out what it is!