Off-by-none: Issue #118

December 1, 2020

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You're watching re:Invent now, now. 🍿

Welcome to Issue #118 of Off-by-none. There’s a lot of serverless to get to!

Last week, we drank from the pre:Invent firehose, saw a solution for PostgreSQL at serverless scale, and questioned the wisdom of DynamoDB’s new SQL-like API. This week, we wrap up the pre:Invent announcements, put the recent AWS outage in perspective, and look for some new #serverless writers. Plus, we have a bunch of awesome content from the serverless community.

We’re looking for first-time serverless writers! 👩‍💻

Have you been building with serverless, but haven’t shared your experience with the world yet? We’d like to encourage you to do just that! Write a blog post about serverless, post to Twitter with the hashtag #offbynone, and then we’ll pick FOUR NEW WRITERS and give away a digital copy of The Developer’s Guide to Content Creation by Stephanie Morillo.

👉 Check out the official rules here.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

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We’ll keep this short and sweet since we have so much to get to. Apparently Google Cloud Functions now supports .NET, but it’s only .NET Core 3.1, so don’t get too excited. But do you know what is exciting? Serverless in China.

re:Invent is happening now! 🎆

The next three weeks promise to be a flurry of announcements, keynotes, sessions, and more! Trying to keep everything sorted is going to be a challenge, but luckily there are lots of resources to help.

If you’re looking for session suggestions, you can checkout the AWS re:Invent Hero Guides, let Marcia Villalba help you get ready for re:Invent, or take a look at Jeremy’s Guide to a Very Serverless re:Invent 2020 (that’s me).

For broad re:Invent coverage and recaps, look at the AWS On Air – re:Invent Weekly Streaming Schedule. And for serverless specific recaps, check out the Serverless @ re:Invent session by the AWS Serverless Developer Advocates.

I’ll sum up some of my thoughts on the pre:Invent announcements below, but this ICYMI: Serverless pre:Invent 2020 wrap-up is a good read.

PROTIP: If you want to speed up playback on the re:Invent video player, but not watch it in 2x or 4x speed, this trick from Tomasz Łakomy worked for me.

Even AWS has bad days 🔥

In true 2020 fashion, another major catastrophe disrupted the lives and livelihood of millions of people worldwide. The great “Kinesis Event of 2020” cascaded failures across multiple AWS services, degrading services for many AWS users and the customers they serve. AWS provided a detailed summary of the Amazon Kinesis Event in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region that both explains what happened, as well as cures insomnia.

There were lots of hot takes and thorough analysis. There were some lessons learned and reflections on architecture. There were even arguments to go multi-region. There were a lot of theories, and there was also reason to question their validity.

At the end of the day, yes, this was a major incident that perhaps could have been avoided. However, the lesson for me is that if it’s possible for the brilliant engineers at AWS to make mistakes, what are the chances your own datacenter team would make them too? Not only that, but would you have the resources to recover as quickly? As someone who maintained physical infrastructure for many years, I’d much rather pay AWS $0.00001667/GB-second than to do this myself.

Serverless Stories 📖

While Allen Helton has his own list of what to be thankful for in tech, I’m thankful for all the amazing serverless success stories that people are sharing.

Ibrahim Cesar shares his story of serverless transformation on a news media outlet in Brazil, Marco Cello tells us what he learned about serverless after 3 months, and Caroline Rennie explains how the RTE Toy Show Appeal converted millions of viewers to millions of Euros with Serverless.

Not all serverless stories end with a happily ever after, like Farid Movsumov’s experience when he moved his WordPress website to Cloudflare Workers and compared the speed. I still enjoy these stories, because they highlight the things that serverless needs to do better.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

TechMagic shared 14 use cases for AWS Lambda that might help inspire you to solve your next problem using serverless.

And Ryan Filler has an awesome tutorial/use case for creating automatic social share images. I might implement a version of this myself.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Webinar: How to optimize Lambda costs
Join Lumigo and Antstack in a deep dive into Lambda costs: how are they calculated, how to analyze your own costs — and most importantly — how to reduce them without hurting performance or the user experience. Save your spot for the webinar which takes place this Thursday, Dec 3 at 10:00 AM PST. Sponsored

Looking for a simple approach to choosing AWS compute for enterprise workloads? Eoin Shanaghy explains when and why you should pick Lambda, EC2, or Fargate.

In the beginning, it likely doesn’t matter much, but as you scale, knowing how to optimize AWS Lambda costs can be really helpful.

Charles Malafosse shared a list of 7 things he wished someone told him about AWS Lambda. These are good things to know but don’t worry too much about cold starts, and think long and hard about TCO before thinking EC2 could be cheaper.

Given the recent announcements, I think Step Functions are going to become a much more integral part of serverless applications. So you might want to look at Taavi Rehemägi ‘s guide to AWS Step Functions error handling.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

NEW LAUNCH: Data Engineering Just Got Easier.
Introducing Amazon Managed Workflows for Apache Airflow (MWAA). Now, run Apache Airflow at scale without provisioning or managing infrastructure. Learn More. Sponsored

If re:Invent isn’t giving you enough to do, perhaps Nathan Cai can show you how to set up a CD workflow for NodeJS to AWS Lambda using GitHub Actions. Or maybe you just need a list of the best resources to learn AWS in 2021!

Podcasts, Videos and more 🎥

On Serverless Chats Episode #77: Serverless for Operations, I chatted with Ryan Coleman about how his work as a sysadmin and stint at Puppet helped fuel his passion for Ops teams, why serverless allows Ops to apply their creativity, what operations looks like in a serverless world, and so much more.

Ivonne Roberts has a multipart video series that walks us through building a Serverless Event Microservice. Take a look and make sure to subscribe to the channel.

Ben Ellerby talks with AWS Serverless DA, Eric Johnson on the Serverless Transformation podcast. Always fun and informative to hear from these two.

Day 1 AWS re:Invent Announcements (so far) 🆕

New for AWS Lambda – 1ms Billing Granularity Adds Cost Savings
This is simply amazing! And to think, I asked for 50ms granularity last year, and they go ahead and make it 1ms. This will save you a lot of money and make Lambda even more attractive for a number of use cases.

New for AWS Lambda – Functions with Up to 10 GB of Memory and 6 vCPUs
Another mind-blowing announcement that opens up use cases that weren’t possible before. Think machine learning applications, batch jobs, ETL, genomics, high-performance computing (HPC), media processing, and much more. 🤯

New for AWS Lambda – Container Image Support
And speaking of use cases, how about container support in Lambda?! You can now deploy containers up to 10GB (with all your dependencies and compiled binaries) into a Lambda function and make it event-driven.

Preview: AWS Proton – Automated Management for Container and Serverless Deployments
The process of deploying complex serverless and container applications is definitely not easy. Does this new service actually solve that problem? I’m cautiously optimistic. 😬

Introducing the next version of Amazon Aurora Serverless in preview
“Instead of doubling capacity every time a workload needs to scale, it adjusts capacity in fine-grained increments to provide just the right amount of database resources for an application’s needs.” Crazy!

Announcing Amazon EC2 Mac instances for macOS
This was the first announcement at re:Invent. I was super excited about this. Then I saw the pricing. 😑

Wrapping up pre:Invent 🚀

Don’t forget that we still have an entire week of announcements that we have to get to. For a full pre:Invent wrap up, check out the ICYMI: Serverless pre:Invent 2020 post from AWS. Otherwise, let’s get through these quickly.

New Synchronous Express Workflows for AWS Step Functions – game changer! Now create complex synchronous workflows that compose reusable functions (and with 1ms billing).

AWS Lambda now supports batch windows of up to 5 minutes for functions with Amazon SQS as an event source – awesome way to better control and manage batching and pressure on downstream systems.

Amazon EventBridge adds Server-Side Encryption (SSE) and increases default quotas – because you knew enterprises would ask for this!

Announcing Modules for AWS CloudFormation – basically bringing what the CDK did for CloudFormation, back into CloudFormation. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Introducing Amazon Managed Workflows for Apache Airflow (MWAA) – Kind of serverless, but not really. But hey, people love Apache Airflow.

AWS announces the launch of Amazon Comprehend Events
Incredibly cool service that makes classifying news much easier. I spent years working on a startup that was trying to do this. 😐

And some other quick hits:

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

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Serverless Architect – Theodo
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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.

November 30 – December 18, 2020 & January 12-14, 2021 – AWS re:Invent (Keynotes)

December 3, 2020 – Optimizing AWS Lambda Costs (Webinar)

Serverless Star of the Week ⭐️

There is a very long list of people who 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 Anahit Pogosova (@anahit_fi). Anahit is an AWS Community Builder and a Lead Cloud Software Engineer at Solita, one of Finland’s largest digital transformation services companies. In her current role, she has been working on full-stack and data solutions for more than a decade. Anahit has generously shared her expertise on podcasts, like Real World Serverless, and conferences such as Serverless Days Helsinki, plus a recent talk on “Serverless Data Streaming on AWS” at Code Mesh last month. Thanks for all that you do, Anahit! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

I’m exhausted, and it’s only Day 1. I (and everyone else) will be tweeting about new announcements as they come out, so be sure to follow me on Twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts on all these announcements as well.

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.

Until next time,

Previous Issue

Issue #117November 24, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #119December 8, 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 ⭐️!