Off-by-none: Issue #116

November 17, 2020

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Happy Birthday, Lambda! 🎂

Welcome to Issue #116 of Off-by-none. There’s a lot of serverless coming your way!

Last week, we got the first wave of pre:Invent announcements, we got some single table DynamoDB lessons, and we loaded up on serverless tools. This week, we’ve got even more pre:Invent announcements, we welcome some new heroes, and we sing happy birthday to a very influential six-year-old. Plus, we have a bunch of great serverless content from the community.

Has it been 6 years already? 🤯

On November 13, 2014, AWS Lambda launched in Preview, and since then, the way we build applications has changed. If you really want to take a trip down memory lane, give Jeff Barr’s AWS Lambda – Run Code in the Cloud post a read. There were only a handful of event triggers back then and API Gateway was not one of them. Just think about how far the serverless revolution has come!

While I have my own stories about how serverless has changed my life and career, this Twitter thread from Matt Fuller captures a similar sentiment. Even though we’re already six years in, there’s still a long way to go. I’d love to hear from you about your journey to serverless and how it’s changed your life. DM me on Twitter or send me an email.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

Auto-instrumented, trace-centric observability for serverless & k8s
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It’s that time of year again, and re:Invent is right around the corner. Mark Nunnikhoven has put together The Ultimate Guide to re:Invent 2020 so that you can prepare for this three-week-long remote conference.

Google is stepping up their cloud game, introducing a new Serverless Database Migration Service. This is on top of the new Cloud Shell Editor they launched a few weeks ago.

Also in other cloud-related news, the Koyeb Serverless Engine for Docker Containers and Continuous Deployment of Functions is now generally available. It targets long-running data processing tasks, which could be interesting for a number of use cases.

I read an article that noted how WordPress powered almost every contest in the US Elections, and then immediately lost even more faith in government.

And, we got a new batch of AWS Heroes, including the first DevTools Heroes! Congratulations and welcome to you all, especially the lone serverless hero, Emrah Şamdan.

Serverless Stories 📖

Adrian Pease writes about his team’s experience with delivering APIs at the edge with Cloudflare Workers. It’s a good story but seems like they had to spend a lot of time on workarounds. I was hoping these things would become easier.

Controllable Scaling in Serverless Big Bang by Marin Radjenovic discusses some of the limitations you can run into when working with serverless applications. There’s an interesting priority queue implementation in here, as well as some good advice regarding throttling to dependencies.

A short read from Thomas Schoffelen that explains how his team went from prototype to production in one weekend using serverless.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

Looking for a good serverless use case? Why not email yourself daily Alexa Skill metrics updates using Lambda, SMAPI, and SES? Michael Kiley explains how it all works.

This is a very cool use case from Ben Taylor that shows you how to create a BlurHash as a service with Cloudflare Workers. This can provide a major UX enhancement for all you Jamstackers out there.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

SMOKE Stack stands for Serverless abstraction, Mashups across clouds, Open integration, Kubernetes portability and scaling, and Event-driven automation. This new whitepaper explains why it matters. Sponsored

There just might be way too many concepts to cover this week, but we’ll give it a shot. First up, Sheen Brisals makes a pretty good case for Event Batching in Amazon EventBridge. There’s also a post by Serkan Özal that talks about managing Lambdas Across Regions and Accounts, something that’s certainly not natively easy to do. And Ran Ribenzaft shares some patterns on the ins and outs of Amazon EventBridge.

Slobodan Stojanović has an awesome post called The Power of Serverless GraphQL with AWS AppSync. And if you want some more great posts by Slobodan, check out his newly published article archive.

I came across this post comparing Serverless, Microservices, and Monoliths to help you choose a backend architecture for your startup. Not sure I fully agree with all the serverless cons in there, but if anything, there is a handy comparison chart at the end that’s worth looking at.

Dave Townsend is the winner of this week’s “a thousand and one ways to do CI/CD with serverless” award. However, if you’re looking to do serverless multi-account deployments with CodePipeline & CodeBuild, his post is quite good.

Michael Bahr has an excellent post that compares Amazon Timestream to DynamoDB for Timeseries Data, Paul Singman explains how to import 100M+ records into DynamoDB in under 30 minutes, and Stefano Stasuzzo has an in-depth post on designing serverless web applications with Amazon Web Services.

Nočnica Fee suggested that Lambda Extensions are changing what it means to be serverless, and I tend to agree.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

There are a couple of new course releases by AWS that appear to be quite useful. One’s a Deep Dive with Security: AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and the other is supposed to help you break free of legacy databases.

Rafael Nunes shows you how to build a terminal chat application using Serverless Redis, Juan Julián Merelo Guervós will walk you through creating a serverless Telegram bot using Go and Vercel, and Tapas Adhikary has a handy post that shows you how to debug Netlify serverless Lambda functions using VS Code.

For something a bit more complex, check out Albiona Hoti’s tutorial on how to build an e-commerce website with Webiny Serverless Headless CMS, Next.js, and Stripe. Or maybe this one on how to get a Serverless web app working with your own domain and SSL on AWS, the right way.

There was also this interesting one by Michael Wu that gives you some ideas for parallel task error handling in Step Functions.

Serverless Reads 🤓

While I agree with Farrah Campbell that this will be a re:Invent for everyone, the picture makes me feel a bit nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” of seeing people in person.

If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, maybe this “The Read Aloud Cloud” book review will convince you. I know that Forrest Brazeal would appreciate it.

Perhaps the thought that “The Origin Is No More” is a bit over the top, but “edge-native applications” has a nice ring to it.

Alex Kotliarskyi explains why he moved his serverless project to Ruby on Rails. There are a lot of vendors that help solve some of these issues, but to assume his problems are unique, would be incredibly shortsighted.

According to Sven Al Hamad, local development is dying, and it’s for the better. I still love my local development tools, but trying to recreate the stack locally is something I abandoned long ago.

Another really interesting read was Shawn Wang’s The Light and Dark Side of the API Economy. I definitely think the automation argument is valid, however, in a perfect world, the reduction of tedium should let us unleash our maximum human potential. Sadly, we don’t live in one.

Videos, podcasts, and more… 🎧

On Serverless Chats, Episode #75: Achieving Operational Excellence, I spoke with Taavi Rehemagi about what’s still missing with serverless observability, what modern cloud monitoring and operations strategies look like, and how to continuously implement best practices to ensure well-architected applications.

Marcia Villalba shows you how to decouple the configuration of your serverless apps with AppConfig in another excellent video.

And Yan Cui chats with Mike Roberts about programming Lambda in Java on the latest episode of Real World Serverless.

New from AWS 🆕

Since this issue is already way too long, I’ll just list link to the pre:Invent announcements this week that I found interesting:

Serverless Tools 🛠

We’ve mentioned Lambda Powertools in the past, but this post by Greg Farrow goes into the history and shows you how to create neat and tidy Lambda Functions using Powertools.

Julian Krispel-Samsel has a TypeScript tool that lets you validate your cloud function with 1 line of code.

Matt Coulter published another CDK Pattern. This one shows you how to add a firewall in front of your serverless Internet facing resources.

Not sure how useful this would be, but here is a Serverless Offline Scheduler for local testing.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

#AWSSAM CLI users: stop what you are doing!! A new release is out! Lambda functions now build in parallel! And will used cached builds for Lambda functions that haven’t changed! v1.9.0 speeding up your development #serverless cycle!! #ServerlessForEveryone ~ Eric Johnson
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Eric Johnson not excited about something to do with serverless, but I have to say that his excitement for this is fully justified. 😉

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.

AWS re:Invent 2020 is a free, 3-week virtual conference (Nov. 30 – Dec. 18, 2020). Register today to gain access to over 500 sessions and much more. With over 50 tracks and hundreds of hours of content, it’s never been easier to catch up on the latest in cloud computing. Registration is now open! Sponsored

November 23, 2020 – 3 Hours of Jamstack Conference

November 30 – December 18, 2020 – AWS re:Invent (Keynotes)

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 Veliswa Boya (@Vel12171). Veliswa is an Engineering Lead at Standard Bank South Africa, the first woman in Africa to be named an AWS Community Hero, and a serverless enthusiast. With multiple AWS certifications under her belt, Veliswa enjoys speaking, connecting with, and mentoring those new to tech, specifically to AWS. She’s a member of Indoni Developers, a platform for African women in coding/tech, speaks at various meetups, including the inaugural AWS Community Day Cape Town in 2019, and regularly publishes helpful content on her Medium blog. Thank you, Veliswa, for making the cloud more accessible to all! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

Apologies for the overwhelming number of links this week, but between pre:Invent and all the amazing content being put out by the community, it’s been really hard to narrow them down. I enjoyed reading every one of them, so hopefully you will too. We still have almost two full weeks until re:Invent, so expect a lot more to come.

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 #115November 10, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #117November 24, 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.


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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 ⭐️!