2020 Year in Review

by Taichi Nakashima,

I wrote these in Japanese in the past but, from this year, I switched it to English. Here is the summary of what went on in my jobs and life.


I continue working for the platform team at Mercari, Inc.

One of the biggest projects I worked on this year was to re-organize the platform team. Originally, when we started the platform team, it consisted of only 3 members. After 3 years, the team grew to more than 10 members. The more we grow, the harder it was to work as a single team: too wider responsibilities or higher cognitive loads. So we split one team into multiple expertise teams. We started to design new team structure from the beginning of the year and actually started to work as multiple teams from the latter half of the year. Still, we need adjustments and continuous improvements but I think it started to work well.

The main mission of the platform team is to support Mercari developers to deliver products easier, faster, and more reliable. To do that, we support multiple phases of the software development cycle: building, testing, deploying and operating. The basic idea of re-organization is to assign teams to each phase and focus on the improvement of its area (see the following figure). Not only that we also have common low-level teams like base cloud infrastructure team and network team (it’s like the platform’s platform team) and the developer experience (DX) team ensures accessibility of the platform. I wrote more details on the company blog post (see How We Re-organized Platform Team).

In this team structure, I started to work as a tech lead at the developer experience (DX) team. The main mission of this team is to provide interfaces between developers and complex platform components so that they can easily access them via unified UI/UX and provide good abstractions for complex distributed systems. It’s still half a year but we did lots of PoC of our ideas already. I hope we can open some of our works in the next year.

Side Job

I also worked at ZOZO Technologies, Inc as a technical advisor of their microservices migration for a half year. ZOZO started migrating its service architecture from monolith to microservices architecture. And the current situation (the beginning of migration) is very similar to what I faced at Mercari 2 years ago. Since I worked on the initial migration of microservices (including building API gateway) and I wanted to use this knowledge and experiences to help others, it was a great opportunity.

Since it’s just a technical advisor, I didn’t do any hands-on tasks but gave some presentations to engineers about what we did in the initial migration and what we are doing to deliver production-ready services (we open-sourced our production readiness checklist this year as well). I joined their slack workspace and answer the questions any time I’m available.

It was the first time for me to be a technical advisor and it was a great experience. The contract with ZOZO ended but I’m thinking to continue this activity next year as well (If you have interested, please contact me any time via Twitter DM, or email).


Here are some of the job-related outputs.


Intentionally, I didn’t talk outside much this year. Instead, I focused on inputs and writings. The only talk I did this year was, at SRE NEXT 2020 (SRE Conference in Japan), about SRE Practices in Mercari Microservices. I shared about SRE practices we use for building platforms and production-ready microservices.


As I wrote, I mainly focused on writing output instead of speaking. Compared with the last year, I wrote more. The followings are company tech blogs I wrote this year:

In addition to the company blog, I contributed to the Japanese tech magazine WEB+DB PRESS Vol.120 about the future of infrastructure management. I summarized what happened in infrastructure management in the 2010s and predict about the next few years. I’ve worked on infrastructure and platforms for many years so this theme was what I wanted to write someday. This was a very good opportunity. I took an interview from Japanese tech media and talked about my carrier as a tech lead. It was also a good chance to re-think my carrier.

I started to write some in English but mostly in Japanese. I’m thinking to switch all of my output into English as much as possible from the next year.


Inputs are very important for good outputs. Here are some of the job-related inputs and learnings.


Designing Data-Intensive Applications is one of the greatest technical books I’ve read in recent years. It’s enough low-level (academic research) and with many real-world examples. I should have read it earlier.

The followings are other books I finished this year:

I wanted to read more but I, unfortunately, could not focus much on it…(the goal was reading 2 books per month). Apparently, I lost the rhythm and became lazy… I hope I can improve it in the next year.


Catching up to the latest research findings and trends around my profession (infrastructure and platforms) was one of my goals for 2020. I set my goal to read a paper per month. I could not meet the goal but I think it was a good start.

The followings are what I read this year:

It’s still beginning and I tried to understand the conferences to watch and recent problems. In the next year, I would like to increase the number of papers to read.


Life outside of work itself didn’t change much except the COVID-19 situation. Fortunately, as always, we enjoyed going to camp, watching movies, and reading books, and so on.

Desk Setups

Because of the COVID-19 situation, we needed to work from home. It started at the end of February. So most of the time this year, I stayed at home and worked remotely.

In the beginning, I didn’t invest home facilities but after I realized this situation would continue for a few years (and even after that, the work style would be not the same as before and we would continue to work remotely), and found my productivity decreased with poor setups, I started to buy a desk and chairs and made it better. The following are the current setups.



My philosophy of the desk setup is not to put anything as much as possible. The following are what I use for this setup:

  • FLEXISPOT for the desk legs. It’s for building height adjustable standing desk. The countertop is custom-made. I ordered it at P.F.S. PARTS CENTER in Ebisu, Tokyo.
  • Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved USB-C Monitor U3419W for the monitor. It’s very wide but it’s curved. So it’s easy to read even the contents in the display edge. USB-C capability is also really good. With a single cable, I can connect the laptop to the monitor and charge at the same time. With this, we can avoid cable mess around the desk. I use a monitor arm from Sanwa.
  • Okamura Contessa II for the chair. It’s very expensive but I know the importance of using a good chair to protect your back. I also like its design as well.
  • Yahata J shaped clamps to mount the laptop under the desk. With this, now I don’t need to put my laptop on the desk. I also use SIGNUM, IKEA’s cable organizer, and put all the required cables and chargers there. This makes the desk very clean.

I think I will continue to improve this setup in the next year as well (especially, I’m thinking I need to buy a better microphone)


I started to go camping 2 years ago and continue. Especially, this year, we needed to avoid crowded places so camping is a really good option. We went to 6 places and started to go camping even in winter (we bought special gear for it). The followings are some of the photos.

February at Shizuoka:




August at Gunma:




September at Yamanashi:



November at Shizuoka:



Watching movies is one of my hobbies but because of the COVID-19 situation, I was not able to go to the theater often this year… So I decided to study about movies to understand and enjoy them more. I read lots of books about history, scripting, shoooting, editing, directoring and so on.


I hope we can go to the theater more in next year.


Fuck off COVID-19