Off-by-none: Issue #126

January 26, 2021

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Engineers who don't understand serverless... 😱

Welcome to Issue #126 of Off-by-none. This issue is sponsored by our friends at Epsagon, Stedi, Lumigo and Theodo.

Last week, SNS made a new friend, someone tried to solve the noisy neighbor problem, and we took a deep dive into compute at the edge. This week, we get an updated peak behind the Lambda curtain, Google throws down the serverless gRPC gauntlet, and we explore why some engineers don’t get serverless. Plus, we’ve got some great content from the serverless community.

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Serverless News & Announcements 📣

AWS released an updated version of their Security Overview of AWS Lambda white paper. If your time is short, Abhay Bhargav has a TL;DR version for you.

According to a press release, Prisma Cloud now secures apps with an integrated Web App Firewall (WAF), API Security, Runtime Protection, and Bot Defense Platform. I’m not sure how much of it applies to serverless, but then again, we don’t see a lot of specific serverless security things these days. Also, Trend Micro added cloud-native container security to their Cloud One Services Platform. This is probably more for you Kubernetes fans out there.

I keep telling you to pay attention to Fastly, but what do I know? I’ll let Anders Bylund explain why Fastly stock jumped 7.3% Thursday morning.

Cloud governance platform company Stacklet raised $18 Million in Series A funding, which probably goes to show that investors still believe in building a business off of open-source software.

And, Google Cloud Run introduced WebSockets, HTTP/2, and gRPC bidirectional streams. Your move, AWS. ♟

Serverless Stories 📖

Johnathan Ishmael has two excellent posts that explain how they deliver BBC Online using serverless and what they did to optimize serverless for their needs.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

I love me some great serverless use cases. Yogesh Chinta doesn’t disappoint with his article on massively parallel serverless computing in AWS. He had to use Fargate containers (because of, you know, FORTRAN), but the fact that he ran 5,000 of them in parallel to compute a hurricane wind footprint model of the US east coast is pretty darn cool.

And if you want to continue to geek-out on data science, Sofian Hamiti has a great post on deploying a serverless R inference service using AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and the AWS CDK.

Harprit Singh provides a nice serverless use case to rediscover liked tweets, Dennis Cahillane explains his team’s AWS serverless video transcoding solution, and Ned McClain gives you the lowdown on deploying PostgREST on Fargate.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Alex DeBrie helps you understand DynamoDB Condition Expressions, and I can’t think of anyone better to explain it.

Sudip Sengupta published a guide to debugging serverless applications, Robert Hook gives us another option for building serverless code pipelines on AWS, and Lou Bichard dives into how a serverless environment setup works.

If you watched Stephen Liedig’s excellent re:Invent 2020 talk about EventBridge (or even if you didn’t), you should check out his Amazon EventBridge resource policy samples. They’ll help you build applications that work across accounts, which you will almost certainly need to do.

Thomas Laue wants you to keep your CloudWatch bill under control when running AWS Lambda at scale. It’s a noble goal, and he even provides you with a small test app to show you how.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

Webinar: Why your next serverless project should use AppSync
Join AWS Serverless Hero Yan Cui and Lumigo Software Engineer Guy Moses will discuss some of the power of GraphQL and AppSync and why AppSync + Lambda + DynamoDB should be your stack of choice in 2021 and beyond! Save your spot for the webinar this Thursday, Jan 28 at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM ET / 18:00 CEST Sponsored

I didn’t come across many super interesting tutorials this week, but Ratko Korlevski’s on creating a Next.js Serverless App with multiple stages and custom environments was a good read. Also, Paulo Carneiro’s post on getting started with AWS Batch and Serverless Framework provides a good blueprint.

Serverless Security 🔒

Jayden Aung outlines seven serverless application security best practices. Nothing particularly novel here, but you can never have enough security reminders.

Serverless Reads 🤓

If you haven’t heard of the new war that Elastic has started (or maybe exacerbated) with AWS, Carl Meadows’s post on Stepping up for a truly open source Elasticsearch will explain AWS’s counter move. Dirk Riehle takes a shot at explaining the two types of open source communities, and while I love the idea of “the commercial open source pledge”, I get why it doesn’t have any traction.

A post by Anna Anisienia counters a YouTube video from Ben Awad to explain why many engineers don’t understand the real use of serverless. It shares some great perspective and goes to show that there is still a major mental block for certain developers. My advice is, if you’re planning on retiring in the next five years, then sure, maybe serverless isn’t for you.

Forrest Brazeal has another great post on the career-changing art of reading the docs. I don’t read the docs nearly as religiously as Jared Short does, but I almost always start there when learning a new service or trying to deepen my knowledge of something.

John Foley wrote a piece about AWS CEO Andy Jassy’s 8-Point Plan for Reinvention, and Betsy Amy-Vogt was on the Cube to discuss how cloud has handed developers new power, and they’re using it to shape the future.

Podcasts, Videos, and more 🎧

On Serverless Chats Episode #85: Serverless at IBM, I spoke with Michael Behrendt from IBM Cloud about IBM’s involvement with serverless 1.0, how their serverless point of view addresses a wider array of application types, how IBM Cloud Code Engine opens up more serverless use cases, their view of a serverless future, and so much more.

I also came across this post on the best serverless meetup videos from 2020. There are some good ones in there.

New from AWS 🆕

It seemed to be a bit of a slow week for serverless at AWS, but there were a few announcements I thought were worth noting.

First up, Amazon CloudWatch Agent now supports OpenTelemetry APIs and SDKs. I know it’s for EC2, but I’m sure this makes it easier for existing CW Agent users. Also, Amazon CloudWatch Agent now supports macOS on Amazon EC2 Mac instances, even though I’m not 100% sure anyone is even using them. 🤷‍♂️

AWS Shield Advanced now provides mitigation metrics and network traffic timelines, which is super helpful in order for you to evaluate its effectiveness and what impact an attack had on your application.

And, Amazon Keyspaces (for Apache Cassandra) now supports JSON syntax to help you read and write data from other systems more easily. Or, then again, you could just switch to DynamoDB.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Michael O’Brien wrote about DynamoDB OneTable, an access library for DynamoDB applications that use one-table design patterns with NodeJS. Thanks for the shout-out to my work on the DynamoDB Toolbox.

Tim Dommett explains The Muses open source project called Hades for serving machine learning models on AWS Lambda Functions.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

Of the following languages, which one is the best for serverless development? Please, this is not a pet language vote. What’s the best for the job of serverless development? ~ Vaughn Vernon
Vaughn asked this question with JS, TS, Python and Kotlin as possible answers. TypeScript won hands down, but there was some interesting debate in the comments about whether or not Node-based FaaS would continue it’s dominance into the future.

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
At Stedi, we’re working in one of the biggest markets on the planet – EDI, the technological backbone of the physical product economy. We’re building a next-generation platform: a ubiquitous commercial trading network to automate the trillions of dollars in B2B transactions exchanged by nearly every company on Earth. If you’re interested in what we’re building and how we’re building it, we’d love to hear from you.

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.

January 27, 2021 – What you need to know: Container Image Support with Stackery and AWS (webinar)

January 28, 2021 – Why your next serverless project should use AWS AppSync (webinar)

January 28, 2021 – How to migrate a legacy system to Serverless and make it work post-transition? (webinar)

February 3, 2021 – ServerlessDays Amsterdam ONLINE meetup

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 serverless star is Xavier Lefevre (@xavi_lefevre). Xavier is currently VP of Engineering at Theodo, a web development and product consulting agency. As part of his role, Xavier manages five technical teams and leads the development of the company’s serverless expertise. He believes that serverless is a major breakthrough that will allow the industry to redirect its focus on core business needs, and his specialization centers on serverless and problematic FinOps architectures. He created a serverless cost calculator to illuminate the true cost of AWS serverless architecture, on which he elaborated in an episode of Serverless Chats. Xavier shares his expertise through articles with Serverless Transformation on Medium, and various speaking events, including Virtual Serverless London meetup. Thanks for shining the light on serverless, Xavier! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

Well, that was another long one, but there are just so many awesome serverless things happening, it’s hard to narrow this stuff down. I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts on the diversity of content (more stuff from other cloud providers? more Kubernetes and containers? just stick to FaaS and managed services? something else?), so please reach out if you have any feedback.

Until next time,

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 #125January 19, 2021

Next Issue

Issue #127February 2, 2021

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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 ⭐️!