Off-by-none: Issue #120

December 15, 2020

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Code is a (financial) liability... ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Welcome to Issue #120 of Off-by-none. We’ve got a bunch of great serverless stuff for you!

Last week, we had plenty of re:Invent week 1 recaps, looked at a new twist in the serverless versus containers debate, and shared several new serverless tools. This week, we attempt to muster the energy for yet another week of AWS re:Invent, we see how easy it is to run up huge cloud bills, and we share several awesome serverless reads. Plus, we have lots of amazing stories from the serverless community.

Don’t Forget! We’re still looking for you first time serverless writers! Write a blog post about serverless, post to Twitter with the hashtag #offbynone, and we’ll pick FOUR NEW WRITERS and give away a digital copy of The Developer’s Guide to Content Creation by Stephanie Morillo. Official rules.

Serverless News & Announcements ๐Ÿ“ฃ

Even though AWS re:Invent’s December domination is far from over, it hasn’t stopped others from making headlines of their own. For example, Google Cloud Run released ‘min’ instances to minimize your serverless cold starts. There was some interesting debate about whether or not this should still be considered “serverless”. I don’t really care what you call it, because it’s a great feature.

DataStax announced the launch of the Stargate API stack. Stargate is a data gateway that allows developers to use any data store for apps by adding support for new APIs, data types and access methods. As far as I know, it has yet to be endorsed by either James Spader or Kurt Russell.

In other cloud news, Instana announced automatic distributed tracing support for Java and Go on Lambda functions and TriggerMesh announced a partnership with Google Cloud to automate enterprise workflows with an intelligent cross-cloud event bus that connects applications, cloud services, and serverless functions.

Also, Architect 8.3 was released with some new custom path features, boilerplate template files, and a way to store your configs in your package.json file.

Webinar: Choosing the Right Messaging Service for Serverless
Join AWS Serverless Hero Dhaval Nagar and other experts as we discuss the best event-routing services for different serverless use cases, covering SNS, SQS, and EventBridge. Save your spot for the webinar this Thursday, Dec 17 at 10:00 AM PST. Sponsored

Serverless Stories ๐Ÿ“–

I came across a pair of stories that show that AWS isn’t the only major cloud provider that lets you unwittingly run up massive bills. The first is from GCP, where a small startup spent $72K testing Firebase and Cloud Run in a matter of a few hours. They wouldn’t be the first people to suffer from infinite recursion. The second has to do with Azure not firing cost alerts until 2 days after your costs blow through it! There’s probably more to this story, but a good lesson as to why cloud developers need to understand costs.

In much happier cloud-related stories, this short post on how Etsy migrated their PCI environment to offset risk demonstrates yet another reason why making something like PCI compliance someone else’s problem reduces operational burden. And, this list of companies using serverless should help assuage any outstanding concerns about adopting serverless in your organization.

Serverless Use Cases ๐Ÿ—บ

I’m not sure anyone actually needs to do this, but Emanuel Russo shows you how to deploy serverless punch cards with AWS Lambda containers. There’s more to it than just the use case.

Serverless Concepts ๐Ÿ—

Lots of great posts this past week that dive into important serverless concepts. I loved these two posts by Franck Pachot that look at Aurora Serverless v2 (preview) -RAM and CPU. Lots of insightful experiments in here that should answer most of your questions.

Miguel A. Calles shares some more serverless best practices, Taavi Rehemรคgi shows you 6 quick ways to cut cost on your Lambdas, and
Karen Tovmasyan takes you on another Amazon DynamoDB Deep Dive.

Paul Singman recounts the pains of debugging serverless applications and explains why passing the โ€œIs it Working?โ€ test with serverless architectures is not enough.

Plus, Yossi Ittach gives us an EventBridge drill down, while Dhaval Nagar helps you choose the right event-routing on AWS with either EventBridge, SNS, or SQS. There’s a great comparison chart in here.

Serverless Tutorials ๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™€๏ธ

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Vikas Solegaonkar shows you how to cleanup your node_modules for a lighter Lambda function. The discussion in the comments are worth the price of admission.

This post on serverless server side rendering with Angular on AWS Lambda@Edge is great, except that it use Angular, Sanjay Dandekar has a complete tutorial on serverless image processing with S3 and AWS Lambda, and Ronny Roeller will show you how to generate AppSync VTL files without the Amplify CLI.

Rahul Biswas isn’t the first one to post about how to run WordPress serverlessly, and he probably won’t be last. There are some options to use the features of WordPress, but still get the benefits of static hosting, so definitely worth checking it out.

Stackery wants you to ask, “Alexa, How Can I Win an Echo (and learn to build an Alexa app)?“, and if you want to get up and running with serverless in no time, check out this super simple quick-starting an AWS Serverless Framework project post.

Serverless Reads ๐Ÿค“

Joe Emison tells you what the critics get wrong about serverless costs. You might have to create a free account to read this one, but it’s worth it IMO.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the new AWS product announcements and are now even more confused by which service does what and best solves your use case, then you’re not alone. Corey Quinn has a great post called The Google Disease Afflicting AWS that eloquently explains how you probably feel right now.

Forrest Brazeal has an excellent post that portends that AWS Proton is Conwayโ€™s Law-as-a-Service. Read this less for the Proton commentary, and more for the pitfalls of trying to centralize cloud operation teams.

And finally, Paul Johnston explains why serverless applications are Hyperobjects, but with a much less negative connotation. This might just be my favorite post of the week.

Podcasts, Videos, and more ๐ŸŽง

On Serverless Chats Episode #79: What to do with your data in a serverless world, I spoke with Angela Timofte about your database options when building new or refactoring old apps with serverless, the process that Trustpilot uses to choose how to store data, and problems they solved using a serverless-first approach.

Marcia Villalba always has a ton of great videos on her YouTube channel, including this re:Invent chat with Faye Ellis and Sheen Brisals about serverless.

New from AWS ๐Ÿ†•

There were lots of re:Invent announcements this past week as well as at Werner’s keynote today, but no real earth-shattering “serverless” ones that got me overly excited. Here are the few that piqued my interest.

Amazon API Gateway now supports integration with Step Functions StartSyncExecution for HTTP APIs, which is pretty cool. Now you can invoke synchronous workflows directly without needing to trigger them from a Lambda.

Also, Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL integrates with AWS Lambda now, which is also pretty cool. Lots of really great things that can be done with this, although, I’ll be much more excited when Serverless Aurora V2 supports this.

We should also mention that Amplify CLI now enables serverless container deployments using AWS Fargate, and that Amazon ECR announced cross region replication of images. I know those feel less serverless, but if you use containers as your Lambda package format, they could be for you.

There were also plenty of interesting announcements around RedShift:

Plus, AWS CloudShell, a service that gives you command-line access to AWS resources was announced today, AWS Lake Formation announced the preview of Transactions, Row-level Security, and Acceleration, and they added Unified Search in the AWS Management console, which I’m still undecided on.

I’m not sure what to expect for announcements over the course of the next week, but I’m sure AWS still has a thing or two up their sleeve.

Serverless Tools ๐Ÿ› 

MySense wrote a plugin for the Serverless Framework that allows you to publish parameters to AWS SSM as part of your deployment flow, though I wouldn’t check these templates into GitHub.

Thoughts from Twitter ๐Ÿฆ

Dec 25th 2019 – I first started sharing content
Jan 11th 2020 – @CdkPatterns started
Sept 29th 2020 – Werner Vogels mentions it in his keynote
Dec 8th 2020 CDK Patterns made it into a re:Invent talk
Looking forward to 2021!
~ Matt Coulter
If anyone’s curious what you can accomplish in a year, take a look at what Matt has done. Oh yeah, and he also became an AWS Hero. ๐Ÿ™Œ

If your PaaS can efficiently start instances in 20ms that run for half a second, then call it serverless. ~ Adrian Cockcroft
This was a post from 2016 that was resurfaced as part of yet another debate on Twitter about what it means to be serverless. This still holds true for me.

Serverless Jobs ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
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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 ๐Ÿ—“

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 17, 2020 – Choosing the Right Messaging Service for Serverless (Webinar)

December 21, 2020 – Serverless London December – re:Invent Discussion Panel (Virtual)

Serverless Star of the Week โญ๏ธ

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 weekโ€™s star is Teri Radichel (@TeriRadichel). Teri is the CEO of 2nd Sight Lab and an AWS Community Hero. Teri is the founding organizer of the Seattle AWS Architects and Engineers Meetup and presents on cloud security at conferences such as RSA, AWS re:Invent, AWS re:Inforce, IANS Security Forums, Countermeasure, SANS Networking, SANS Cloud Summit, and BSides. She also received the SANS Difference Makers Award for cloud security innovation. She writes a blog called Cloud Security and wrote a book on Cybersecurity for Executives. Thank you, Teri, for your impressive and tireless work for the cloud and serverless communities! ๐Ÿ™Œ

Final Thoughts ๐Ÿค”

We’re now in week 3 of AWS re:Invent, and I’m completely re:Invented out. In years past, re:Invent was a nonstop week of networking, social events, excitement around product launches, a buzzing and lively Expo Hall, and yes, a bunch of really great sessions. This year I feel completely disconnected, trying desperately to share my attention between work commitments (cause nobody can take 3 weeks off for this), family commitments, and watching prerecorded sessions that are frustratingly not available on-demand. The tiny fraction of content that I have watched was really good, but for me, the execution, timing, and community aspects of this event have fallen flat. The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the US yesterday, so here’s hoping that re:Invent 2021 is a joyous, in-person reunion of the AWS community.

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,

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Issue #119December 8, 2020

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Issue #121December 22, 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 โ€œserver-fullโ€ 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 โญ๏ธ!