Off-by-none: Issue #112

October 20, 2020

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Optimizing the cost of serverless... 💰

Welcome to Issue #112 of Off-by-none. Here comes some serverless!

Last week, we got Lambda Extensions, a full-stack serverless manifesto, and a reality check on the state of the serverless revolution. This week, we get a recap of a very serverless third quarter, add resiliency with circuit breakers, and get a lesson in privacy. Plus, we have lots of great content from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

When your architecture is Serverless and Serviceful, Mashable, Open, K8s-based, and Event-driven, the sky’s the limit. The SMOKE stack Whitepaper shows you how. Sponsored

So much has happened with serverless at AWS over the last few months, but thanks to this ICYMI: Serverless Q3 2020 post, you can see it all organized in one place.

And speaking of things happening with serverless, several of our favorite serverless startups have some recent announcements as well. Architect 8.0 was released, adding HTTP catchall syntax, @proxy, new HTTP methods, and npm 7 support. Lambda Store dropped some new features, including TLS in the Free Tier, team support, US-WEST Region and budget support. Plus, Altostra introduced their CLI.

With so much buzz around Lambda Extensions last week, we failed to mention that Stackery added support for automating monitoring partners so that every function deployed is instrumented with the chosen provider. This is a nice little compliance measure to make sure you’re following monitoring best practices.

In other serverless startup news, Koyeb raised $1.6 million for its serverless data-processing engine. Plan on seeing many more startups trying to connect multiple clouds with serverless automation. And everyone welcome another serverless edge provider as EDJX launches the “World’s First Distributed CDN and Serverless Platform at the Edge.” I’m not entirely sure how they are defining the word “first” here, but I guess that depends on what your definition of “is” is. 🤷‍♂️

Finally, Splunk acquires Plumbr and Rigor to build out its observability platform, apparently realizing that they are way behind in the market, and Palo Alto Networks introduces a Comprehensive Cloud Native Security Platform, again.

Serverless Stories & Use Cases 📖

I’m not sure if this is just a story or a use case, but being able to accept beer money with Stripe without using servers, seems like a worthy endeavor. Take note that Josh Kasuboski doesn’t use FaaS to power his serverless beer donation system, but instead just Stripe’s platform and a few lines of JavaScript. We can argue as to whether or not this is “serverless”, but the only undifferentiated heavy lifting Josh seems to be doing here is carrying his new case of beer.

Pubudu Jayawardana has a fun piece on how he created a ‘physical’ alarm to warn him when his servers are down. I find it somewhat ironic that he is relying on serverless technologies to notify them that their EC2 instances are down, but even so, it’s a great use case.

I also came across an interesting post titled, Eligibility at Guild — Adventures in Event Processing on AWS. It’s a great exploration of how they built their own serverless event bus using AWS technology. And make sure to take a look at the “Learnings” section.

Another edge use case (pun intended) that seemed interesting to me was implementing Basic Authentication with Lambda@Edge by Sebastian Pettersson. I wouldn’t have thought to try this.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

If you’re still using CloudWatch logs to debug your serverless applications, then take a look at this excellent webinar from Datadog that shows you how to visualize your serverless architecture so you can rapidly resolve issues within your environment. Sponsored

And if you’re a Serverless Framework user, Frédéric Barthelet points out some very cool features you might have missed in his Infrastructure as Code only works as Code post.

Chandrahas Ravi Kiran argues that you can do everything with AWS Lambda. There are some “common practices of Lambda” explained, and while you may not agree with Lambda calling Lambdas bit, the rest provides some good examples.

Matt Coulter has a new CDK Pattern that lets you add resiliency to your Lambda Function with a Circuit Breaker. I’m a big fan. There was also an introductory piece that asked, “Can AWS Lambda Access A Database?” The answer is clearly, “yes”, but I think the article did a good job outlining some options.

And James Beswick, serverless extraordinaire and apparent resident miser, shows you how to optimize the cost of serverless web applications. There’s some solid advice in here, and be sure to factor in TCO if you’re thinking about comparing these costs to traditional architecture.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

There’s always a ton of serverless tutorials to choose from each week, so here are a few that I found interesting.

Dmitry Nefedov shows you how to automate exporting CloudWatch log-groups to S3 using a Lambda function. There’s also a quick intro to using a Lambda Data Source in AWS AppSync with the Serverless Framework that you might find helpful.

Serkan Özal explains how to build an application in minutes with AWS Amplify, and Siben Nayak has a great tutorial on how to build a serverless application using AWS Chalice and one on how to build a serverless application using AWS SAM.

I also really liked Michael Bahr’s post that shows you how to validate email workflows with a serverless inbox API. I assure you that it has nothing to do with the fact that he mentions the DynamoDB Toolbox. 😉

Serverless Reads 🤓

AWS Serverless for Startups
For aspiring entrepreneurs to technical founders, get access to AWS credits & technical resources through our newly launched serverless hub. Build, iterate, and scale faster. Learn more here. Sponsored

While this post about a browser making a tiny Office Suite may seem like it has nothing to do with serverless, think about how WASM can push more and more computational complexity to the browser and how edge platforms can dramatically bring down latency. My guess is that the browser and the edge are the next evolution of serverless web applications.

Mohammed Izzy calls out some mistakes to sidestep when going for a serverless design, and Shahar Fogel shared some thoughts on why software companies still need to address legacy systems.

And finally, Brian McCann tells Java developers, it’s time to give AWS Lambda a try. He makes some good arguments, but it’s worth clicking through just to read the comic at the beginning.

Podcasts, Videos, and more 🍿

On Serverless Chats – Episode #71: Serverless Privacy & Compliance, I spoke with Mark Nunnikhoven about why your online privacy is so important, what we need to think about in terms of compliance, how serverless helps us create more secure applications, and a lot more. This is part one of two.

In the latest episode of Real World Serverless, Yan Cui spoke with Ken Collins about the serverless work being done at Custom Ink.

And as always, Marcia Villalba has been busy producing excellent serverless content including a video on how to use API Gateway HTTP JWT Authorizer with OAuth2, and an interview with Gunnar Grosch on building reliability in distributed systems, and a Q&A session on building real-time serverless applications.

New from AWS 🆕

Last week we got several serverless announcements, so they’re a little light this week. From what I saw, the news that Amazon Rekognition now detects Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face covers, head covers, and hand covers on persons in images seems to be the most prominent.

Another interesting announcement was that Amazon Aurora now enables dynamic resizing for database storage space. This means that not only will your storage space increase to handle more data, but that it will also decrease now, saving you money when data is removed from your system.

In other database related news, they announced cross-database queries for Amazon Redshift (in preview), which is pretty darn cool. I can’t be the only one that has had to deal with data stored in multiple DBs.

You can also use the new AWS Budgets Actions to get better control over your cloud spend, use the new Amazon CloudWatch Synthetics Recorder to generate user flow scripts for canaries, and check out the AWS IAM Access Analyzer that now supports archive rules for existing findings.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Need a circuit breaker for AWS Lambda? Check out this very cool Node module from Gunnar Grosch.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

Excellent post by @mipsytipsy on the future of Ops careers, even if it’s a bit critical of “Lambda: A Serverless Musical”. 😉 While I 100% agree that #serverless isn’t headed towards the ridiculous notion of #NoOps, I have some thoughts on the article. ~ Jeremy Daly
Yes, I’m sharing thoughts about my own thoughts, but I think Charity Major’s post is important to read, even though I disagree with the characterization of the serverless movement. There is a good discussion in this Twitter thread that’s worth digging into.

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
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Serverless Architect – Theodo
We build massively scalable, resilient, low cost and high quality systems for our clients in record time using our expertise, technology and methodology. This role is client facing, hands on architecting and building the end solution within a team. Work alongside thought leaders with constant experimentation and innovation, plus dedicated time to work on open-source and content and encouraged to speak at world conferences.

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.

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

October 22, 2020 – Troubleshooting AWS Serverless Applications (Webinar)

October 22, 2020 – Get empowered — AWS She Builds Day Online

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

October 28, 2020 – ServerlessDays Virtual

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 Nočnica Fee (@ServerlessMom). Nočnica is currently a Serverless Developer Advocate at New Relic, and a recent guest on Serverless Chats. Nočnica is no stranger to the serverless scene. She has also worked at Stackery, and has written about serverless for the New Relic blog in addition to her contributions to The New Stack. She has spoken at Codeland, TechStrong Con, and even Deserted Island DevOps (yes, that tech conference that happened in Animal Crossing). Thank you, Nočnica, for your many, many contributions! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

There’s never a dull moment in the serverless space, and with more startups entering the fray, money being raised, and existing players continuing to churn out innovations, we’re likely to see the Tim Burton-esque nightmare that is 2020 ending up being a positive turning point for serverless. Even if we still have serverless haters by the plenty. 😉

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.


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Issue #111October 13, 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 ⭐️!