Off-by-none: Issue #168

December 14, 2021

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The Cloud is on fire 🔥

Welcome to Issue #168 of Off-by-none. This issue is sponsored by our friends at Lumigo and Cockroach Labs.

Last week, we re:Covered from re:Invent, shared a whole bunch of re:Caps, and watched the edge computing battle heat up. This week, we get rational about the AWS outage, add some serverless storage, and take a hard look at AWS DX. Plus, we’ve got plenty of great serverless content from the community.

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What do you do when AWS is down?

The other day AWS published their summary of the AWS Service Event in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region with the ultimate cause pointing to an “automated activity to scale capacity” which kicked off a series of calamities all of which made it harder for them to track down and mitigate the underlying issue. It didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies, and I have every reason to believe something like this will definitely happen again. What am I going to do about? Probably nothing.

There’s plenty of good commentary on this, including Mike Wheatley’s post suggesting more resiliency is needed (sure). But there were also warnings about not overreacting, like Matt Asay’s post as to why your response to AWS going down shouldn’t be multicloud. Likewise, Spencer Soper’s piece quotes Corey Quinn as being equally skeptical about a “multi-cloud” solution as the answer to your AWS woes.

I think the most important takeaway from Soper is his closing thought: “In the end, periodic cloud failures have started to feel a little like a large-scale, digital version of a regular power outage: A momentary crisis, then the lights flicker back on, and you get back to your routine.”

To me, this is the right perspective. There are some systems that simply can’t go down, and those systems most certainly should invest in redundancy, especially if human life is at risk. For the other 99.99% of us building workloads in the cloud, a multi-hour outage may sting, and perhaps even result in significant revenue losses, but compared to the cost of implementing and maintaining solutions to mitigate these outages (that only happen every few years), it’s a drop in the bucket. I’ve got more important things to focus on.

Some more things to be said about re:Invent.

I know re:Invent is over, but there’s still plenty of analysis to sift through. Ryan Kroonenburg has a nice article on the biggest announcements and Renato Losio has an excellent recap as well.

If you’re looking for a bit more banter, this 2021 re:Invent Slackchat (with a guest appearance from Corey Quinn) is a good read.

And finally, B. Cameron Gain’s Amazon Wants Everybody on Its Cloud piece gives some good insight into this interesting AWS strategy.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

Okay, finally onto some other news. There were a couple of interesting funding events in the serverless space, including developer productivity startup Gadget raising $8.5M to build a low/no-code ecommerce platform. Plus Anyscale raised $100M to keep facilitating serverless computing in the Cloud.

We introducing Serverless Storage for Serverless Cloud last week, despite a bumpy rollout due to the AWS outage.

We also missed this the other week, but Upstash launched Serverless Kafka, which apparently does scale to zero.

Vendia expanded their serverless blockchain data sharing platform, including adding smart contracts to support complex business rules.

And Cloudflare had several announcements, but this one on version and stage configuration changes with HTTP Applications and their new bulk redirects feature caught my eye.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

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Robert Bulmer gives a great overview of AWS AppSync and how GraphQL can be an alternative to REST.

Kevin Dico explains what the deal is with deploying aliased AWS Lambda functions. If you use a framework, you probably don’t even know these exist.

Someone (who I’m guessing their real name isn’t “Srce Cde”) has an article that describes different scenarios of handling SQS message failure in batches with the partial batch response feature.

And Jones Zachariah Noel does a deep dive into Lambda event-filters for DynamoDB. It’s a handy little reference.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

This is a vendor piece, but there needs to be more people working on fast serverless authentication.

And if you don’t think authentication is a bit of chore, check out Samuel Danquah’s Firebase and Fauna B2C Auth App in AWS Land.

Amit Raj gives you the steps to create a Simple TweetBot with AWS Lambda.

Jerome Decoster compares CDK and CDKTF for creating a Lambda function with DynamoDB.

Sam Van Overmeire shares some ideas on better type checking for the JavaScript DynamoDB SDK.

If you like buzzword soup, then you should learn how to develop a full stack serverless NFT application with Amazon Managed Blockchain. And this is just part 1.

Michael Liendo shared the Complete Guide to adding AWS resources to your Amplify project.

Meanwhile, Wojciech Matuszewski shows you how to prevent costly Amazon DynamoDB operations in AWS Amplify CLI projects.

And finally, Joe Ho shares some ideas on Primary Key design in AWS DynamoDB.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Manish Kapur shares how Oracle thinks about simplifying architecture decisions for cloud native apps. I certainly disagree with “package and ship apps as containers”, but I’m sure my disagreements with Oracle don’t stop there.

I will not be using the terms “superclouds” or “hyperclouds”, but Charles Fitzgerald’s The Cloudless Cloud Company piece is still one you shouldn’t miss.

David Linthicum tries to explain the true value of serverless computing, while simultaneously missing the concept of TCO. 😐

Mario Bittencourt writes about the good, the bad, and the ugly of AWS Step Functions after a year in production. I mean, nothing’s perfect. 🤷‍♂️

In a recent interview, Erez Berkner explains that “Lumigo is purpose-built for cloud-native” as they expand their offerings beyond just serverless workloads.

Podcasts, Videos, and more 🎧

The Serverless Craic shares some thoughts on how to achieve rapid delivery for modern applications.

Ben Myers builds a color contrast checker with Eleventy Serverless. I’m a big fan of Eleventy, and this is a really cool marriage between SSGs and serverless.

New from AWS 🆕

There were several announcements from AWS likely worth skipping (for us serverless folk anyway) but some (partially) relevant ones include Amazon Location adding Suggestion capability and Amazon Route 53 updating some API actions.

Serverless Tools 🛠

If you want to sh*tpost like Corey Quinn, this new Last Tweet in AWS app might help you do just that.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

“If AWS were rebuilt today, what high-level incidental complexity do you wish would be eliminated via different design decisions? E.g. issues with ARNs or URL structure, or even ‘I want regions for data sovereignty, not resiliency.’ Bonus for examples creating toil inside AWS.” ~ Zack Kanter
Insightful thread full of comments that will make you realize you’re not the only one that thinks these things about AWS.

“Today, we are live on @vercel , having switched from AWS S3+Cloudfront+Lambda@edge. Ultimately, Vercel offers a much better overall experience for both developers and users. (Still using AppSync+Cognito+Dynamo+Lambda for back end)” ~Joe Emison
Looks like that Amplify Studio announcement was just a bit too late. 😬 But seriously, AWS has all the frontend primitives, they just can’t seem to connect them for you. 🙁

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 Rebekah Kulidzan (@rkulidzan). Rebekah is a Solutions Architect in the UK Public Sector team at AWS, as well as an AWS Community Builder. She writes about her career journey, interests, tech and more on her blog, and created a Twitter Space series called #TechTable where she interviews some of her favorite people in tech on topics ranging from cloud computing to open source and learning to developer relations. In addition to advancing conversations in tech, Rebekah is also a Mental Health Advocate working with organizations to improve workplace wellbeing. Thank you Rebekah for opening up dialogues in tech and mental health!

Final Thoughts 🤔

I hope you all had a great week and have fully recovered from the AWS outage (and/or re:Invent). And if you’re interested in learning about DynamoDB modeling, don’t forget to sign up to get news and information about my new course.

See you next week,

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 #167December 7, 2021

Next Issue

Issue #169December 21, 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.


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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 ⭐️!