Off-by-none: Issue #109

September 29, 2020

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You don’t want to manage “a towering edifice of stuff” 🔥

Welcome to Issue #109 of Off-by-none. Get ready for some serverless!

Last week, we shared Hamilton’s thoughts on Lambda, learned how to bypass Cloudflare’s SQL injection filters, and got automated language recognition from AWS. This week, we’re advised to think serverless instead of Kubernetes, learn how to choose the right messaging system, and get a new approach to stateful serverless. Plus, we have lots of great content from the community.

Speaking of great content, we’re making it easier for you to help us find and amplify new voices in the serverless community. If you see an article or tweet that you think should be included in this newsletter, just reply to or quote the tweet with the #offbynone hashtag and we’ll add it to the queue.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

The TriggerMesh guide “What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless” compares the major serverless offerings and explains concepts like cloud native and microservices. Use it to inform your peers / managers on serverless benefits and options. Sponsored

The Serverless Framework V2 launched recently with a few breaking changes for the first time in 4 years, which is kind of amazing if you think about it. They all make sense to me, plus this new feature that dropped with v2.3.0 is pretty sweet.

And Begin now ships API Gateway HTTP APIs by default, following suit with the Serverless Framework V2. A good sign that HTTP APIs should be your preferred choice (if possible).

As we say goodbye to #ServerlessSeptember, we enter Pumpkin Spice Latte and Hacktoberfest season. While you’re hopefully avoiding the former, you might want to check out this Webiny challenge and the Election 2020 GIVEAWAY that Nimbella is running.

We’re nearing the end of 2020, but Coding Sans has some results from their State of Serverless report that outlines some Serverless trends you need to know.

Finally, Cloudflare launched their Workers Durable Objects Beta, which says it gives us a “New Approach to Stateful Serverless.” I haven’t taken a deep dive on this yet, but from what I’ve seen, the idea and execution is pretty solid. Read the announcement for more details, but the main idea is to add coordinated routing along with WebSocket support to have access to persistent state. 🤯

Serverless Stories 📖

Stef Morren explains the perks of a serverless architecture for a product content publication system. A fast, reliable, and inexpensive system turned Stef and his team into serverless believers.

If you’re still not a believer, check out Swizec Teller’s favorite serverless project, it’s a startup he built in a day. Still not convinced? Maybe this Coca-Cola serverless case study will help.

For something a bit more straightforward and technical, let David Cockerill
show you how they build and deploy the serverless HarperDB Studio backend application.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

This is the OG of serverless use cases, triggering a file conversion from an S3 trigger. Madhav Palshikar takes it a bit further and shows you how to convert Office Docs to PDF with AWS Lambda.

Do you think your Ring doorbell is cool? How about a doorbell using AWS Serverless that recognizes faces and sends a message to Slack?

For something more altruistic, Melissa Bain wanted to calm her father’s nerves and help him avoid going down the Corona rabbit hole. So she turned to AWS Lambda to generate automatic Covid-19 updates for him.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Having trouble choosing between messaging services for serverless applications? James Beswick has some answers for you.

If you’ve made the unfortunate decision to build your serverless applications with Java (just kidding), then you might want to check out Steffen Grunwald’s piece on monitoring the Java Virtual Machine garbage collection on AWS Lambda.

If you’re just getting started with Lambda, Taavi Rehemägi’s Complete AWS Lambda Handbook for Beginners (Parts 1 & 2) should give you a solid foundation.

If you’re well into your serverless journey, this post on building serverless microservices might get the wheels turning and help you pick the right design for your application.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

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The number (and quality) of tutorials was quite overwhelming this week, so narrowing them down was a bit of a challenge. Here are some that I thought were particularly interesting.

I always love a good starter tutorial, and Building A Simple Serverless Application by Oguzhan Ozdemir fits the bill. Michael Whittle also has a tutorial for developing Lambda applications using the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM) framework that covers a lot as well.

For GraphQL fans, there’s this post that shows you how to create a serverless GraphQL API with AWS AppSync and MongoDB, Yan Cui explains how to sample AppSync resolver logs, and Pang Bian shows you how to connect Serverless Aurora to AppSync using AWS CDK.

The AWS blog had a few gems this week, including a rather complex architecture to delete user data in an AWS data lake. There was a helpful piece on automating Amazon CloudWatch Alarms with AWS Systems Manager as well as a straightforward guide to deploying a static website with AWS Amplify and the CDK.

Gal Bashan explains how to stream AWS Lambda logs to Elastic, Steve Bjorg added a third part to his CloudWatch Logging for Web Apps series, and Santiago Palladino has some thoughts on speeding up your AWS SAM development by deploying individual functions.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Sam Newman, you know, the microservices guru, tells us to think serverless, not Kubernetes, because “you don’t want to manage a towering edifice of stuff.” I couldn’t agree more. And while I’m sure there are practical reasons to go down the K8s route, it doesn’t mean they’re good ones.

Interesting comparison piece by Miguel Calles asking if you should ditch Serverless for the AWS CDK? He makes several good points, but I wouldn’t go rewriting all your serverless.ymls just yet.

Emrah Samdan shares his thoughts on the future outlook of serverless. I didn’t realize that “the industry expects serverless to be the default computing platform by 2025,” but I’d be happy with that. 🤷‍♂️

This won’t take you long to read, but I like this idea of going back to the simple functional web. If anything, it’s a proper argument for single-purpose functions.

Finally, Tim Bray compares workflows in AWS and GCP.

Podcasts, Videos, and more 📽

So this is quite amazing. There’s this AWS Video Catalog site that indexes all videos created by AWS categorized by service. So feel free to dive into all the Lambda and DynamoDB videos you’d like.

On Serverless Chats – Episode #68: Optimizing your Lambda Functions, I chatted with Alex Casalboni about strategies to optimize Lambda functions, how to use his AWS Lambda Power Tuning project to find the right balance of cost and performance, and how to combine Lambda with other AWS services to maximize the power of each execution.

Marcia Villalba had a great discussion with Heitor Lessa about implementing the Serverless Lens in your apps. You probably want to check this one out.

New from AWS 🆕

Nothing particularly exciting from a serverless perspective this week, but AWS Fargate did increase the default resource count service quotas, bumping those up to 500 for both ECS tasks and EKS pods.

There were some usability improvements for the AWS Management Console, which sounds great, but if you wasted a few ticks trying to figure out how to close the Resources dropdown, you’re not alone.

Because we still don’t have serverless Elasticsearch, you might want to check out the new T3 Instances. And in other non-serverless news, Amazon Aurora increased the maximum storage size to 128TB, which seems like a lot.

For the cost-conscious, they’ve introduced AWS Cost Anomaly Detection (in preview) as well as the ability to queue purchases of Savings Plans.

There’s also the new AWS Glue Studio for visual job authoring and advanced monitoring for AWS Glue, some updates to Amazon CloudWatch Synthetics to strengthen end-to-end canary run debugging with X-Ray traces, and Amazon Lex now offers language support for US Spanish. ¡Muy Bien!

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
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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 30, 2020 – CDK Day 2020 (Online Conference)

September 30, 2020 – Microsoft Create: Serverless – Conversations with Community and Industry Experts! 🗣

October 1-2, 2020 – ServerlessDays Hamburg 2019 🗣

October 6-8, 2020 – Chaos Conf 2019

October 22, 2020 – The Future of Video Streaming on The Edge With Serverless Computing, featuring FloSports (Webinar)

October 27, 2020 – AWS Community Day Amsterdam (Online Event)

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 nominate them.

This week’s star is Gillian McCann (@othergill). Gillian is Co-Founder and CTO at Workgrid, a software provider of intelligent workplace solutions that is part of Liberty Mutual Group. As part of her role, she heads Cloud Engineering & AI at Workgrid, and was notably one of the first AWS Machine Learning Heroes. Gillian has shared her passion for cloud native architecture, especially in how conversational interfaces, machine learning and AI can deliver new capabilities, at conferences and events like AWS re:Invent, ServerlessConf, and AWS User Groups. Thank you, Gillian, for doing your part to contribute to this incredible community! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

I’m a big fan of Sam Newman’s work, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his thoughts on serverless versus Kubernetes this week. I get that there are some diehard K8s fans, and I get that there are several organizations that have already been locked in to Kubernetes. However, what I don’t get are people refusing to see the logical end to the vast majority of K8s experiments, i.e., a cloud-based, fully-managed, elastic orchestration service for distributed computing that scales up and down on demand. Or more simply: serverless.

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.


Previous Issue

Issue #108September 22, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #110October 6, 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 ⭐️!