The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Jan Zorz

April 11, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 37
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Jan Zorz
Show Notes Transcript

Our guest today is Jan, a “happy internet dragon” and VP of 6Connect Labs.

Jan shares with us his experiences with IPv6 and how he has been using it successfully for many years.

We explore the importance of building a proper foundation for IPv6 and how he founded the Go6 Institute to raise awareness about its implementation and adoption.

Jan emphasizes the value of joining and being active in communities to learn and share knowledge and experience, and shares with us what to do when you cause a nation to be without emails for six days.

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There is a whole world out there that probably needs your skills and experience.
Why stick at the place that doesn’t suit you anymore.”
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Jan's Links:

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Thanks for being an imposter - a part of the Imposter Syndrome Network (ISN)!

We'd love it if you connected with us at the links below:

Make it a great day.

Machines generated this, mistakes and all:

[00:00:00] Chris: Hello and welcome to the Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't welcome imposters. My name is Chris Grundman and I'm here today with my insanely inspiring co-host, Zoe Rose. Hello, this is the Jan Zorz episode and you're in for a treat. Jan is a dear friend of mine, a happy internet dragon, the VP of six Connect Labs, an IPv6 advocate and implementer, and is also usually in trouble somewhere.

[00:00:42] Chris: Hey, Jann, would you mind introducing yourself a bit further to the Imposter syndrome network? 

[00:00:47] Jan: Hey Chris. Hey Zoe. Thank you for having. Yeah, well I think you, you described me quite well, the VP of Six Connect Labs, uh, working with IPv6 somewhere, somehow, and, and usually getting in trouble. We work together, so you know how that looks like, right? 

[00:01:06] Chris: I do indeed. Thanks for that. And uh, definitely not everyone listening knows you quite as well as I do, at least not yet. And we'll get to the multiple successful businesses you've owned, the long and lustrious career you've had and your reputation around the world as a trusted expert.

[00:01:23] Chris: But I do want to take advantage of our friendship. To cut right through all of that and start off with, uh, asking you to tell us about the most embarrassing mistake you've ever made. 

[00:01:35] Jan: Huh? Most embarrassing mistake I've ever made. Probably it was back in 96, 97 when I was working at the Slovenia Internet Company.

[00:01:50] Jan: It was basically a telecom, Slovenia Online. It was the incumbent internet service provider where I was, I was at the beginning. Uh, I helped, uh, set it up from the ground up and when the user base grow so big that our mail server couldn't, couldn't handle it anymore. It was millions of mails, thousands and thousands of mail users.

[00:02:15] Jan: There, we decided to do the migration to a bigger, more, more professional mail system. Other than, uh, than, uh, Postfix and, and Dovecot. And we planned the migration for like a week. Uh, and then we had like three days of migrating, uh, stopped the mail server for everybody in the country, uh, migrated to the new system.

[00:02:40] Jan: And when after three days of no emails for all our users, I decided to unlink one little directory that was so, the whole system was ready, everything was migrated, and we were ready to go back live. And I was trying to unlink one directory, just a cosmetic thing, and I link the whole /usr 

[00:03:06] Chris: Oh no.

[00:03:07] Jan: Oh yeah. On Solaris system. And that meant. All the emails, all the mail databases, everything went to lost and found. Oh boy. Our CEO back then was uh, knocking on my door asking when are we going live? And I was like, Hey, I think our nation will have to, will have to be without emails for a couple of more days.

[00:03:33] Jan: Cause I lost everything. Wow. Yeah. Luckily we had a backup of the old mail system because we, we, we already dismantled the old mail system. We already deleted all the old, all the old mails on, on the old system, but the backups were on tapes. You remember tapes, right? And there was this, uh, robot thingy that was, uh, putting in and out the, the tapes.

[00:04:02] Jan: And I think the restore from these tapes took... Three days. Oh wow. So yeah, the whole nation was without emails for six days. And when they got the access to the emails back on the old system, the latest email that they got in the mailbox was I think six days or seven days old.

[00:04:29] Jan: I think that was one of the most embarrassing things that I did in my career 

[00:04:35] Zoe: on a positive life without email. Does sounds quite, uh, lovely. Yes. Maybe not if you're the one responsible. 

[00:04:45] Chris: Well, 96, 97 though, remember the email was still exciting. Oh, in the, in the nineties. Yes. Right. 

[00:04:50] Zoe: You weren't drowning in them.

[00:04:52] Zoe: I mean, I was a child, so I dunno, but. 

[00:04:56] Jan: And then you, you know, uh, my, my only excuse was that, you know, delivery of the email is not guaranteed and read the RFC valid point. Yeah. But I messed it up severely and I learned a lot. I, I learned a lot from there. Um, it was early days of my career. 

[00:05:18] Zoe: Yeah. But I like that point.

[00:05:19] Zoe: And that's, that's with me. I was really excited about my intern the other day. She said that was a learning experience and I was like, exactly. I love it. Keep saying that. 

[00:05:30] Jan: And you know, it's, it's not worth anything if you don't learn anything from it. I understand people were pissed off at me, but you know now like 30 years, so I dunno how many years later you.

[00:05:47] Jan: It's just fun thing to say. 

[00:05:50] Zoe: Yeah, definitely. One thing I was curious about is obviously, well actually we've got our lessons. You're an IPv6 advocate and implementer, and from my experience, I love IPv6. When I was in school, I got to learn about it and. You know, implement it. And I remember, uh, years ago we had a group that we were trying to set it up, a kind of lab environment that only ran on IPv6 and then we ran into massive issues at the time cuz you couldn't run it only on IPv6 at the time.

[00:06:21] Zoe: But, um, my curious thought is why do you think that IPv6 is something that a lot of people feel like, I don't know, people act like it's such a drama, like it's too complex, or it's too confusing or it's too difficult. I just, I'm curious what your thought is, why people are so scared of it and, you know, why is it such a dramatic topic?

[00:06:45] Jan: You know, I, to be really honest, I, I'm probably not the really right person to ask this question because I, I started with IPv6 in yeah, 97 basically when I, uh, downloaded the the IPv6 patch for Solaris system for Solaris from the Sun Playground. That Bob Hinden actually wrote, and, and later on, many, many, many, many years later, we were in, in the car together with, uh, with Bob Hinden, one of the fathers of IPv6.

[00:07:20] Jan: I was driving him down to the postojna cave when he, he visited here in Slovenia and I told, he asked me, when did I come in touch with IPv6 first? And I, I told him the story about the IPv6 patch for the for for Solaris. He said, you know, you know who wrote that patch? And he said Me because I worked for Sun Microsystems back then and I never knew if anyone would go and download that patch and actually use it.

[00:07:47] Jan: And I said, yeah, now you know at least one. And it actually worked. I connected to Six Bone and the only thing I could do with that was ping some other machine. On the other end. No other software was ready for IPv6 or worked on IPv6, just ping. That was the big win. You know, I was communicating over IPv6 pinging one machine, somewhere in the internet on Six Bone.

[00:08:12] Jan: That was my start. And uh, since then I always included IPv6 in, in my projects and much later on when the IPv6 support became much more mature. I basically started thinking in, in a different way. Instead of thinking from the IPv4 perspective, when I was building projects, building the architectures, I started building architectures on IPv6.

[00:08:39] Jan: And when it worked, I added IPv4 on the bottom and hoped it worked. So for me, I was, I was using and testing all the new stuff on IPv6 since from forever. For me, it's not complex because if you, if you understand it, it's not that complex. There are still some things that could be done better.

[00:09:04] Jan: Some implementations are not perfect, but I think that majority of things with some ingenuity is, is basically doable. I'm, I'm running all my things on IPv6, many of them also on IPv6. So interestingly enough, when, when we had, um, major outage of the internet in our country, I didn't even notice at home.

[00:09:31] Jan: IPv6 worked and IPv4 was down. I didn't even notice. And then, and then my, my, my kids came to me and said, internet doesn't work. It was like, I don't know, everything works. And they were like, no, no, some games doesn't work. And then I figured out that IPv4 doesn't work. So like, ok, who care?

[00:09:50] Jan: But back to your question, the problem that I see a lot I've, I've been helping many people, companies, ISPs, enterprises to implement IPv6, and the main problem is that they try to set up IPv6 based on their IPv4 understanding, and they go. Oh, this is just another version of IP. Let's, let's do it like we are doing IP before and, and be done with it.

[00:10:20] Jan: Uh, well, many concepts are similar, but not all of them. And if you mess up those that are not similar, these are the most important ones that are the fundamentals. If you mess up those ones, uh, then yeah, things may or may not work. 

[00:10:40] Chris: Yeah, always true, right? You gotta build the foundations properly to be able to build above it.

[00:10:44] Chris: And speaking of building an IPv6, I mean, I believe that that interest in IPv6 and kind of drive and being one of the pioneers there as far as practically implementing it in a lot of places really early on is what led to you founding and kind of running the Go Six Institute for so long. Is that right?

[00:10:59] Chris: Cause that was like 2009 when you, when you started that. 

[00:11:03] Jan: Yeah, so we started. When I, when I saw that, uh, IPv6 implementation and adoption around the world is not, is not going according to the plan and that internet is in trouble. The IPv4 outage, runout was, uh, near and um, I said, well, you know, I've been earning for my living outta of the internet for so many years now it's time to give something back.

[00:11:28] Jan: And we started to, uh, actually push and, uh, rise the awareness of IPv6 implementation and what's going to happen if we don't implement IPv6 first? Uh, we started in my own, uh, country in Slovenia where we, uh, where I founded the Go Six Institute. That was basically aiming at building the IPv6 community in my country.

[00:11:52] Jan: And actually we did, uh, we are, we are very, very small nation. We're like, the whole nation is 2 million people. It's like a small part of suburbs of Frankfurt, basically the whole country. You can't, you can't sit in the car, in, in Ljubljana the capital city and, and drive for more than one and a half hour and still be in the country.

[00:12:12] Jan: But despite that fact, we managed together, uh, like 250, 300 people in the community on the mailing list. Usually the, we had these Slovenian IPv6 summit meetings where around 120, 150 people came, usually the same one. So it started to form like a, like a true community. And after a couple of years, we decided that, the IPv6 topic, the, the awareness of IPv6 topic in our country is high enough.

[00:12:49] Jan: So we slowly, slowly transformed the dad's community into a more wide topic community that is called SINOG, that's Slovenian Network Operators Group. I basically started and then. At the beginning, the first day of the meeting was the IPv6 summit. The second day of the meeting was network operators group topics, and then slowly it, it transformed itself.

[00:13:14] Jan: So at the end, uh, the network operators group, uh, was, was the main topic. And IPv6 was basically one of the themes that, uh, we had presentations on. But, but, but also e everything else that a, a network operators are interested in. So yeah. I also, uh, we, we also founded the lab that is still running as the Go Six Lab, where uh, we have, uh, three racks of equipment and we are testing new IPv6 stuff, uh, setting up things that are coming from the IETF.

[00:13:51] Jan: Coming from the vendors and, you know, playing, playing around in the lab. So this was always my sort of like, my preferred part of it, and that's basically why I enjoy it so much. At, at my, at my current job at Six Connect I. Started building and built a lab for for Six Connect and because the company that I work for at A Six Connect is basically the vendor of the, of the IP address management software.

[00:14:23] Jan: And that's basically out grew it's primal purpose of being the IP address management. It became the network automation software. So our developers needs to have all sort of router switches and all sorts of devices virtualized in the lab so they can test the connectors against, they can test the development against.

[00:14:46] Jan: But we also do lots of IPv6 testing in the lab. So my journey continues. 

[00:14:53] Zoe: Lots of learning. One thing that I notice is you're talking about communities a lot and, uh, building connections and, uh, knowledge, uh, in the area that you're working. So when I started my career, not nearly as long ago as you, but when I started, I had YouTube.

[00:15:10] Zoe: Uh, I did a lot of self-taught stuff, but I had YouTube so I could just watch it on YouTube. Somebody already did it and I was just copying them. Essentially, my thoughts are looking at people starting out. How vital is communities to their career journey, from your perspective? And also what would you think?

[00:15:32] Zoe: Like what? What would your starting place be if they were working on a new technology that didn't have a bunch of existing documentation or it doesn't have a bunch of existing YouTube tutorials? Where would be a good place for somebody that wants to start or learn more in that kind of space? 

[00:15:50] Jan: You know, young people, uh, entering our business and, and in industry are quite lucky.

[00:15:57] Jan: There's lots of information available on the internet. There are many internet communities that are mostly happy to accept newcomers in and share the, the knowledge and experience. And when I started. Actually, I started back in 90, 91. Oh, if you, if you wanted to know how to set up a router, you had to order a book to US and wait for it like a month.

[00:16:27] Jan: And then, and then you got your book and then, Oh, no, it's, it's a wrong book. Okay. I need to order, uh, the other one. So that was the learning pace and, uh, and options that we had. There was, there was no community, especially in my country. Everybody was hiding every information possible just to keep the competitive advantage.

[00:16:51] Jan: And, you know, it, it was not fun, but I, I wanted to learn, so I was very, very persistent and stubborn. And that's where I, where I learned to get into trouble so much. So, but yeah, with the progress of the internet, with, uh, the progress of internet communities being formed, It's a lot easier, and I still don't understand why some of the newcomers, some of the people that are starting in the community that, that are starting in the industry, they don't go and join the community.

[00:17:27] Jan: They, they don't want to be active in the community. They want to do, I don't know, just. Do all their, uh, trainings and do all their certificates, and then they put, um, all these, um, a acronyms of the certificates below their name and they think that the whole world will start calling them and, and offering them a business.

[00:17:48] Jan: It doesn't work like this. You know, it's certificates are fine. I'm not a big fan of them, but, uh, is the goodwill that counts. It's the experience that count. And actually willingness to share your experience because, well, I, I had an interesting conversation with, with one of the newcomers in, in our, uh, SINOG community, and he said, wow, I, I never expected that if I would come here and if somebody ask a question and I know the answer to, I can answer.

[00:18:28] Jan: And then when I ask the question, all these people is very happy to answer. And you know, I would probably spend a week or two trying to find a solution to my problem. And here I got the solution from two or three uh, sides in like one hour. There is a feeling that every experience you share in the community basically multiplies.

[00:18:55] Jan: Cause then you will receive back the experience from other people in the community. It's a great learning tool. It's a great experience learning tool. And I'm, I'm not sure that without the community, the internet would, would even exist. I'm, I'm quite, uh, active in the RIPE community. I'm a member of the program committee at Ripe and also the chair of the Best Operational Practice Task Forces.

[00:19:22] Jan: I'm also the chair of the Southeastern Europe Ripe Regional meeting, uh, that is focused on the Southeastern Europe part and so on and so forth. So I've been, I've been active in many, many communities because I think it's good for not just people share knowledge and experience between each other, but also for the newcomers to learn.

[00:19:44] Jan: Because internet, I call it a tubing industry, uh, you know, pipes, uh, the, the infrastructure community, in my opinion, we are missing one or two generations of people. And that was the times when everybody wanted to, to click on Facebook and Google and write mobile apps and, and be a billion. So we are missing one or two generations of young network engineers, and I hope that this will, this will get better.

[00:20:16] Zoe: When I was in college, I was taking a network management. Uh, cert, well, it was a, it was a business, it business degree or whatever it's called. But, um, it was like, kind of like a major was the network management. And I remember my, my colleagues in class were like, why are you going into networking?

[00:20:33] Zoe: Networking is going away. It's applications now. And I'm like, okay, but where are your applications gonna run on? Exactly. The cloud exists. Yes, but where does the cloud. It's not an actual cloud. 

[00:20:47] Jan: I had a similar chat with one of the youngsters, and you know, I was ex uh, he, he was telling me that no, the routers and the cables, they, this is, this is old stuff.

[00:20:56] Jan: No, he said these days you have software defined network. When you, when you click on the web interface and connect this dot to this dot, and then the, the connection automatically appears. I said, right, it's magic, but somebody will have to put some metal in and connect the cables. No, no, no, no, this, this is done automatically.

[00:21:18] Jan: Right. Come with me. Let's go to the data center. Have you been to the data center? No, not yet. Okay. This will be a new experience for you. 

[00:21:26] Zoe: That's fabulous. Yes. Routes are magical, magical things. 

[00:21:32] Jan: Internet is magic. 

[00:21:33] Chris: So, You know, obviously from 1992 ish in until now, you've had, you know, quite a few roles. Some volunteers.

[00:21:42] Chris: You've talked about some, some paid, some you created yourself by, by creating companies or organizations and things. Which of those roles do you think you learned the most? Like what, what, where, what period along your career was it where you really kind of drank from the fire hose as, as we say, and, and, and learn the most 

[00:21:57] Jan: learned the most about myself or about the network engineering?

[00:22:01] Chris: Ooh, I like the first one better actually.

[00:22:04] Jan: I learned the most about myself. I think at ISOC, at Internet Society, I learned that when the, when the organization changes so much that your role is not the one anymore that used to be. And you accepted it, and you embraced it, but changed into something completely different, that doesn't suit you anymore and it's causing you stress.

[00:22:31] Jan: And you don't feel it. Right. Again, don't stay in there. There is the whole world out there that probably there is a place that that needs your skills and experience and why sticking at the place that doesn't suit you anymore. That's basically, I think the biggest thing that I learned about myself in these 30 years, because I was always very, very persistent.

[00:23:00] Jan: I was. No, no, no. I, I'm doing this and I need to see it through and just, you know, I need to resist and suffer a li a little bit and it'll be fine. Uh, it's not, it's, if things get worse, then it, they, it'll get worse and worse and worse until you'll not know anymore if you are nearing the burnout or why you are feeling so bad and things like, like this.

[00:23:31] Jan: So, yeah, when, when we parted ways with, with isoc, I actually realized that I didn't realize this prior to this, and. I realized that, I realized that I did this for a couple of previous jobs, actually, when I didn't recognize that the working environ environment doesn't suit me perfectly. Right. 

[00:23:56] Zoe: How did you figure out like you've learned situations where, Maybe it wasn't the right fit, but how did you find what the right fit was?

[00:24:05] Zoe: What you were good at, and what you enjoyed, and what, who, who's the term that that cleaning or that organizing lady uses that brings you joy? Sparks joy. Sparks joy. Sparks joy. Sorry.

[00:24:16] Jan: I knew exactly what my, what my joy was. That was the technical work. Internet awareness work, working with the community, and also working in the lab.

[00:24:29] Jan: So that's, that's my thing, basically. And when you join the company and they hire you because of your skills, because of exactly these skills. And then the company changes into something different. Maybe more policy oriented, uh, politics oriented, much more enterprise-like, not so much bottom up, introducing more and more bureaucracy that I hate from the bottom of my heart.

[00:25:03] Jan: You know, but this, this change is coming slowly and slowly and slowly, and you're suffering more and more, and you don't feel right. You don't feel in your place, but this doesn't happen from today to tomorrow. It happens on, on the long run. And then you, you realize after, after you, you get out of there.

[00:25:24] Chris: That makes total sense to me. I think we are about out of time for today, unfortunately. So we're gonna have to leave it there. Jan. Thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your story with the Imposter Syndrome Network. And thank you to all of the imposters listening for your time, your attention, and your support.

[00:25:43] Chris: Please consider joining the LinkedIn group to get or give career advice and to stay connected between the episodes. And, uh, be sure to share this episode with a friend, a family member, or a colleague who might find it interesting or informative. But before we close out, completely Jan. I do have one more question for you.

[00:26:00] Chris: Obviously, we call this the imposter syndrome network because Zoe and I believe like you do, I think that one, we're missing a generation of infrastructure engineers and we wanna inspire people to follow their passion into technology and, and work on the pipes Like, like we do. But also because so many of us who work with our minds every day, I think, often feel a little out of place or less than, or just not quite smart enough.

[00:26:24] Chris: And so I'm wondering, you know, one, do you ever feel like an imposter? Like you're faking it or like you're gonna be found out someday? And if you do, what do you do when you feel that way? What, how do you deal with those feelings of, uh, inferiority? 

[00:26:37] Jan: Huh, that's an interesting question actually. I, I felt like, like an imposter once.

[00:26:44] Jan: When I wondered at the RIPE meeting to a BoF that was about quantum networking. I was like, I was listening to what people was talking about and was like, dude, what? I don't understand anything what you're saying. Uh, so I felt a little bit like imposter. But then, you know, I stayed there. I tried to understand things.

[00:27:11] Jan: You know, these people on, on this area is, is smart. And I think there might be some, some future in there in that stuff. So we'll have to learn.

[00:27:20] Chris: Yeah. The jury is still out for me on, on how far quantum computing will actually get us, uh, or go or, or, or, you know, turn into a real thing. 

[00:27:28] Jan: Well, I still need to understand how that works then I will, I will be able to give you my opinion or 

[00:27:34] Chris: Fair enough.

[00:27:34] Chris: Fair. 

[00:27:35] Chris: Yeah. We'll tweet it out when we. Cool. Well, Jan, is there any, uh, any projects, we've covered a lot of ground here, but any projects that you haven't mentioned yet that, or, or that you wanna highlight again for the imposter syndrome network? For those folks that are listening out there, that you're working on currently, anything exciting or stuff that they can get involved in?

[00:27:53] Chris: Or, I know you're doing some work with the Global NOG Alliance, which I'm not super familiar with, or I don't know. Anything, anything you want to kind of highlight for the, for the listeners? 

[00:28:00] Jan: Yeah, so currently. The lots of my time goes into the global NOG alliance that we created to support NOGs around the world.

[00:28:10] Jan: But then when, uh, when the war started in Ukraine, we were the one to start, uh, the, the task force under the global NOG alliance that is called Keep Ukraine Connected, where we said that we, you know, it's one big community and network operators in Ukraine are also part of the community. So when the things started to break in, in, in Ukraine, we said that we will try to support, uh, operators there.

[00:28:42] Jan: And actually the motto was from the community, by the community, for the community. So we start, we asked our different communities around in Europe and also around the world if they can donate some equipment, some switches, some routers, some. Stuff that they're not using anymore. And we, we organized the transport, uh, to Ukraine.

[00:29:05] Jan: Cause there was, at the beginning was impossible to get anything into Ukraine. But interestingly enough, the, the most requested stuff in Ukraine at the beginning was, uh, okay, big, big routers, uh, to fix the, the capacity in the country or to reroute the capacity in, in the country to, to actually fix. The, the, the problem with war when everything is destroyed, but also, uh, the fiber splicers, I think we send over 40 fiber splicers to Ukraine.

[00:29:41] Jan: Uh, and these are, these are very expensive devices, but we, we got lots of good people donating, uh, money for splicers. And in, interestingly enough, the second, uh, most requested thing was the wireless access points. And we asked why. They said, send us wireless access points and, uh, power over ethernet switches, because now when the, the bombs starts coming down, there's the alarm and people needs to go into a shelter, a bomb shelter, thick walls.

[00:30:11] Jan: They lose the mobile signal, they can't communicate. They're in there, it's dark. Bombs are dropping out and exploding, and they don't know about. I don't know, parents, uh, relatives, you know, you are in the dark sitting there and waiting for it to end. And, uh, yeah, we are sending down there, um, lots of wireless access points that have donated.

[00:30:34] Jan: So they install wireless in the bunkers, in the shelters. So when there is bombing, people can be connected to the internet and can, can be in touch with, uh, with, uh, with the outer world. You know, when you don't have a war in your country, you never realize that your infrastructure is not sufficient to be useful in the war times.

[00:30:57] Jan: So yeah, after the war is over, uh, we'll go to Ukraine to meet our friends there that we have been supporting. Yeah, we now. I think we've shipped over 2 million dollars worth of equipment, uh, to Ukraine already. And, uh, they're, they're really, really happy. 

[00:31:14] Chris: That's fantastic. It definitely brings a new meaning to the term, uh, doom scrolling to be on your phone in a, in a bomb shelter during an air raid.

[00:31:22] Chris: But it definitely, I mean, that communication down there makes a lot of sense. We'll have a link to that as well. If folks wanna donate or, or try and find a way to get involved, we'll link to that as well as your Twitter profile and Linkedin profile. I think that's it for us this week. We'll be back next week.