Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro focusing on cloud computing, Kubernetes, Linux, containers, and networking

Closing out the Tokyo Assignment

In late 2019, I announced that I would be temporarily relocating to Tokyo for a six-month assignment to build out a team focused on cloud-native services and offerings. A few months later, I was still in Colorado, and I explained what was happening in a status update on the Tokyo assignment. I’ve had a few folks ask me about it, so I thought I’d go ahead and share that the Tokyo assignment did not happen and will not happen.

So why didn’t it happen? In my March 2020 update, I mentioned that paperwork, approvals, and proper budget allocations had slowed down the assignment, but then the pandemic hit. Many folks, myself included, expected that the pandemic would work itself out, but—as we now clearly know—it did not. And as the pandemic dragged on (and continues to drag on), restrictions on travel and concerns over public health and safety continued to mean that the assignment was not going to happen. As many of you know all too well, travel restrictions still exist even today.

OK, but why won’t it happen in the future, when the pandemic is under control? At the time when the Tokyo assignment was offered to me, there were a set of reasons it made sense. The in-country team had no strong Kubernetes and cloud-native expertise, and wanted someone from the former Heptio team to come in and help bootstrap folks. There were business opportunities the in-country team wanted to pursue that would have been possible with the team I had been charged with building out. In reality, though, this was a time-bounded window of opportunity. The longer the pandemic continued and delayed the assignment, the more this time-bounded opportunity window shrank. In-country management lured away folks from competitors who had the requisite experience, and the team started bootstrapping itself. Business opportunities shifted. Strong team members from other parts of the organization and other parts of the world ended up relocating to nearby centers of growth (Singapore, notably). Now, more than a year later, the assignment just doesn’t make sense. It’s no longer needed.

I won’t lie—I’m more than a little sad that the assignment didn’t and won’t happen. Such is life, though; we shift and adapt as the world shifts and changes around us. Perhaps at some point in the future a similar opportunity will arise.

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