After just over six years in the United States, our family is going to relocate back to Germany sometime in the second half of this month.
Thanks to a lot of effort by our management and HR teams at Microsoft, including our VP Scott Guthrie, I will be staying with the Windows Azure engineering group and with the Service Bus feature team and will come back to the mothership fairly frequently, likely 5-6 times a year; you can look at this as "working from home" with a 14h each-way commute to work.
Since it's soon going to be fairly obvious looking at my Twitter timeline that that move is happening, I thought it make sense to let you know here as well with a few more than 140 characters. I already spoke to a few folks who're good at reading tea leaves and writing about it (like Darryl Taft and Mary-Jo Foley) back at TechEd North America about this is coming up, so there wouldn't be speculation about me jumping ship. I'm not.
There are two sets of reasons for why we're moving back at this time. The primary set of reason is around family concerns. Our daughter is now 5 and the grandparents and the rest of the family deserve extended time with her and us. We also have a choice between having her set her cultural and educational roots in America or in Europe and on whether our daughter is going to communicate with us in English or German in the long run.
Everyone has their notions of patriotism and I'm a proud European. And irrespective of what the media panic says, I'm bullish on Europe - and I'm also bullish on the Middle East and Africa. I see an awesome number of really sophisticated customer cloud solutions and concepts in progress in manufacturing, commerce, and energy in the EMEA region, and setting up camp near Mönchengladbach/Düsseldorf will mostly put me within 1-2 flying hours of most of these customers and my colleagues working with them. I think that having more folks from the core Windows Azure engineering organization over in Europe - my Service Bus colleague David Ingham is in Newcastle/England already - will be a good thing.
And even though we're still working on calibrating the exact shape of my remote role and coordinate with the local colleagues, I'm fairly certain that conference and event attendees in EMEA will see a bit more of me again. The first conference European conference I'll be speaking at that I would otherwise not been able to go to will be the German ADC conference in early November. If you run/chair a conference in Europe and would be interested in having me speak, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also - this isn't the last word in the U.S. for us. Our daughter is a dual citizen and we're keeping the door open to come back in a few years time, so this is technically a temporary relocation. We obviously have a lot of friends here, and the Puget Sound area is one of the most beautiful places in the world (even when it's gray) and there's no better place in the world for one of my newly acquired hobbies, which is, probably oddly, Civil and Military Aviation History. I also acquired appreciation for Baseball and the up-and-coming (you just have to believe) Seattle Mariners - and, of course, Football and the Seahawks.
Bottom line: Same job, different continent, different time-zone.