Off-by-none: Issue #101

August 4, 2020

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Tell us what you really think of serverless… 🤭

Welcome to Issue #101 of Off-by-none. Thanks for joining us!

Last week, we celebrated our 100th issue, and at the same time, realized we have a lot more to share about serverless! This week, we get some dissenting opinions on serverless while at the same time getting a bunch of awesome new tools to make it even better. Plus, we’ve got plenty of great posts from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

The brand new TriggerMesh integration with Amazon EventBridge lets you use any TriggerMesh source in EventBridge. Our sources include GitHub, GitLab, Slack, Zendesk, Azure Activity Logs, as well as on-premises apps. Learn more here! Sponsored

New Relic pricing plummets with product overhaul
New Relic just released their New Relic One platform, which is a complete overhaul of their existing system. This is a great article that sums up the need to reposition in an increasingly saturated cloud observability market.

YC alum Paragon snags $2.5M seed for low-code app integration platform
This is an interesting new tool that is built on a AWS serverless backend. You still need quite a bit of technical knowledge, but most of the infrastructure is abstracted away for you. Give me a way to do IaC with this, and I might be very interested.

Announcing the New AWS Community Builders Program!
Looking to get access to AWS product teams, information about new services and features, mentorship from AWS experts, Promotional Credits, and other helpful resources to support content creation and community-based work? Check out this new program from AWS.

Rockset Shatters Operational Barriers for Real-Time Analytics
Maybe this is just an overhyped press release, but the idea of “Converged Indexes” that support real-time SQL queries on semi-structured data at massive scale is pretty exciting. I was just chatting with someone about RocksDB the other day, and they have been very happy with it.

Serverless Stories 📖

How I scaled an AppSync project to 200+ resolvers
If you’re working on a massive AppSync project, you definitely want to read how Yan Cui built one with over 200 AppSync resolvers and 600 CloudFormation resources.

How I Built a Serverless Search for My Blog
This is amazing. Probably total overkill, but amazing nonetheless. Gunnar Morling used Java and the Apache Lucene full-text search library, compiled into a native binary using the Quarkus framework and GraalVM, to deploy a serverless search engine on Lambda.

AWS DynamoDB: Writing millions of records: Not consuming provisioned throughput: Global Secondary Index and Sharding
This article does a great job explaining why write sharding might be necessary when using low-cardinality partition keys in secondary indexes. If you’re writing lots of data to DynamoDB, definitely give this a look.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Understanding database options for your serverless web applications
Helpful post by James Beswick that outlines a few patterns that can be used to handle database interactions from your serverless applications. The relational database story for AWS and serverless is getting much better (thanks RDS Proxy), but it’s still not quite there yet.

The Pains of Testing Serverless Applications
Having difficulty testing your serverless applications? You’re not the only one. Paul Swail reveals some of the problems and complaints from developers collected through his recent serverless survey.

AWS Compiled 001
Alejandra Quetzalli has put together (what I think) is the first issue of an AWS newsletter. This one focuses on Java and Serverless. I hope there are more of these.

Best Practices for an Improved Serverless Developer Experience
I think Harsh Chaudhary has a lot of really good recommendations in here, but I’m personally not a huge fan of mocking cloud services locally. But, hey, whatever works for you. That’s what’s important.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

Auto-instrumented, trace-centric observability for serverless & k8s
If you’re running distributed serverless, Kubernetes, or containerized environments, you need a specialized tool that’s built to monitor them. Epsagon enables teams to automatically detect, troubleshoot, and resolve issues within complex microservices with no training, manual coding, tagging or maintenance required. Try free today, connect your first trace instantly, and grab one of our “cloud observability” drones! Sponsored

Serverless Framework & Immutable Packaging: How to
Samuel Cozannet outlines a strategy for creating immutable deployment packages with the Serverless Framework. It’s an interesting approach, though it still requires the framework to rebuild the CloudFormation templates on every deploy. As soon as you throw certain plugins into the mix, everything goes out the window.

Why You Should Never, Ever print() in a Lambda Function
Paul Singman offers some advice for you to “upgrade your dance” when it comes to logging in your Lambda functions. Also, take a look at the structured logging format provided by AWS if you really want to take it to the next level.

Building well-architected serverless applications: Controlling serverless API access – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
I love this series by Julian Wood. It takes you through all the steps and questions you need to be asking to make sure your serverless app’s API access is secure and well-architected.

Serverless Security 🔒

Study finds misconfigured cloud storage services in 93% of cloud deployments analyzed
I wish this came as a surprise. This has “led to nearly 200 breaches that have given attackers access to 30 billion records over the past two years.” 😳

Serverless Reads 🤓

The AWS Serverless LAMP Stack: The Future of PHP or Vendor Lock-in?
The good news about this article is that they don’t criticize serverless, just the proprietary nature of building a LAMP stack on top of Lambda and the AWS ecosystem. I’ll say one thing about vendor lock-in. If I had a nickel for every time I had to move my production application to another provider… I’d be broke.

My monolith doesn’t fit in your serverless
Gabriel Chertok gives some reasons why he thinks serverless isn’t right for apps that live somewhere between really simple and infinitely scalable. He makes some good points, and I’ve been arguing for awhile that I think we’ve added too much complexity to the serverless paradigm. What are your thoughts?

Why the Benefits of Serverless May Never Be Realized
“I think serverless as a whole has been over-hyped. It may be part of a broader cloud-native computing revolution, but serverless on its own falls short of being revolutionary. It’s a handy technology, but it’s not exactly a pathbreaking or singularly disruptive one.” I strongly disagree. Yes it has constraints, but I’ve never worked with a technology that offered this much potential.

For the podcast listener… 🎧

Episode #60: Going Green with Serverless with Paul Johnston (Part 2)
In part 2 of this two-part episode, I finish my chat with Paul Johnston about how the big cloud providers are addressing climate change, what the tech industry can do as a whole, the effect this will have on globalized business, and how the positive downstream impact of choosing serverless can create a more sustainable business.

New from AWS 🆕

Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose now supports data delivery to HTTP endpoints
This feature enables you to use a fully managed service to stream data to an HTTP endpoint without building custom applications or worrying about operating and managing the data delivery infrastructure. I’m down for that! It also supports data delivery to Datadog, New Relic, and MongoDB Cloud.

AWS CodeBuild supports code coverage reporting
This is a nice new feature. Supports any test framework that outputs files for JaCoco XML, SimpleCov JSON, Clover XML, and Cobertura XML.

Amazon GuardDuty expands threat detection coverage to help you better protect your data stored in Amazon S3
Threat detection coverage has been broadened to monitor for highly-suspicious data access and anomaly detection to help you better protect your data residing in Amazon Simple Storage Service. We now know that 93% of their customers need it. Read more.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Is serverless cheaper for your use case? Find out with this calculator.
Xavier Lefèvre has put together a really helpful serverless calculator that has a ton of default values already configured. You’re free to use the official AWS cost calculator, but this one assumes things based on a “typical” serverless application.

5 Serverless Security Tools You Should Be Using
Miguel Calles put together a list of serverless security tools for you. There are lots of other monitoring/observability tools available, but it’s a handy reference.

CLI tool to Query the AWS Aurora Serverless Data API
Chris Bailey wrote a python script that lets you query your Aurora Serverless cluster right from your CLI. Great little tool for debugging and development.

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
At Stedi, we’re working in one of the biggest markets on the planet – EDI, the technological backbone of the physical product economy. We’re building a next-generation platform: a ubiquitous commercial trading network to automate the trillions of dollars in B2B transactions exchanged by nearly every company on Earth. If you’re interested in what we’re building and how we’re building it, we’d love to hear from you.

Have a job listing you’d like to share? Please contact me for more information.

Upcoming Serverless Events 🗓

There are a lot of upcoming serverless events, webinars, livestreams, and more. If you have an event you’d like me to mention, please email me.

September 3, 2020 – ServerlessDays Warsaw

October 1-2, 2020 – ServerlessDays Hamburg 2019

Serverless Star of the Week ⭐️

There is a very long list of people that are doing #ServerlessGood and contributing to the Serverless community. These people deserve recognition for their efforts. So each week, I will mention someone whose recent contribution really stood out to me. I love meeting new people, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let me know.

This week’s star is Nicole Yip (@Pelicanpie88). Nicole is an Engineering Manager at the LEGO Group, where, prior to her recent promotion (congrats!) she has been involved with the platform team looking after the hosting infrastructure (AWS), CI/CD and dev experience, SRE, operations and security for both application and infrastructure. Her experience as an infrastructure and DevOps engineer has allowed her to help teams of all sizes get their services to AWS. Nicole has also spoken at the Serverless Architecture Conference and DevOps Con. Thank you, Nicole, for helping others make the jump to serverless! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

There were several new tools released this week that help with building serverless applications. From New Relic’s new platform, to TriggerMesh’s EventBridge integration, to Xavier Lefèvre’s Serverless Cost Calculator, all of these investments are a continued testament to the growing power and popularity of serverless.

While there were several articles this week that criticize serverless, it seems to be the same old recycled arguments, many of which have been addressed by the cloud providers or the community. We just need to keep fighting the good fight and spreading the serverless word. Eventually the dissenters will find themselves left in the dust with a whole bunch of servers to manage.

I hope you enjoyed this newsletter. We’re always looking for ideas and feedback to make it better and more inclusive, so please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email.

See you next week,

Previous Issue

Issue #100July 28, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #102August 11, 2020

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About the Author

Jeremy is the GM of Serverless Cloud at Serverless, Inc. and an AWS Serverless Hero that has a soft spot for helping people solve problems using serverless. He frequently consults with companies and developers transitioning away from the traditional “server-full” approach. You can find him ranting about serverless on Twitter, in several forums and Slack groups, hosting the Serverless Chats podcast, and at (virtual) conferences around the world.


Nominate a Serverless Star

Off-by-none is committed to celebrating the diversity of the serverless community and recognizing the people who make it awesome. If you know of someone doing amazing things with serverless, please nominate them to be a Serverless Star ⭐️!