Off-by-none: Issue #45

July 9, 2019

Where do companies start with serverless?

Welcome to Issue #45 of Off-by-none. I’m so glad you joined us! πŸŽ‰

Last week, we recapped AWS re:Inforce and looked at the broader AWS security ecosystem. This week, we ponder how companies adopt serverless, look ahead to AWS Summit New York, and share lots of great content from the serverless community.

Tons of stuff to get to this week, so let’s get to it! ⏩

When you’re looking to bring serverless to your organization… πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»

Earlier this week, Tom McLaughlin wrote this piece announcing that he was shutting down ServerlessOps (his cloud/serverless consulting company). The good news is that he will be bringing his expertise and wisdom to Liberty Mutual to help them with their serverless journey, but the bad news is, that another independent consultant is off the market.

Tom offers some insights into why he thinks a small, serverless-focused consultancy business isn’t viable (yet), and I think he’s probably correct for many reasons. There are certainly opportunities for serverless practitioners (of all sizes) to help companies looking to adopt serverless, but there are a lot of factors that drive the internal conversations. I’ve spoken to a number of companies simply looking for guidance, some who want to outsource completely, and some who have just started figuring things out on their own. I think these are all viable ways to get started with serverless. The key is that they are getting started.

However your company plans on adopting serverless, it’s good to know that there are some really good people out there (like Tom was) to help you, especially when you start dealing with complex architectures. I’m sure Tom will continue to share his thoughts and ideas with the serverless community, and maybe even give us some insights into how his new employer adopts serverless. We certainly wish him well.

For all you readers: I’d be curious to know the story of serverless adoption at your company. Please reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you’d like to share.

Serverless News & Product Announcements πŸš€

Serverlessconf 2019 New York Speakers Announced
The speaker lineup is now available for Serverlessconf New York in October. Lots of amazing serverless minds will be taking the stage, and I’m honored to be joining them for a talk of my own. Hope to see you all there.

Releasing X-Lambda (alpha): Statistical Power Against Code Starts
Renato Byrro and the team at Dashbird have released an interesting way to deal with cold starts. It’ll depend on your use case as to whether or not you need this, but the approach is very cool.

The Best Serverless Sessions at AWS Summit New York
Stackery has put together a list of sessions that serverless fanatics can’t miss at the AWS Summit New York later this week. I’d add DEV11 to that list, but I’m a bit biased. πŸ˜‰

NEW BOOK! Running Serverless: Introduction to AWS Lambda and the Serverless Application Model
Gojko Adzic’s latest book is now available in paperback and on Kindle. I read an early preview of this book and it was fantastic. Definitely worth checking out.

Serverless Stories πŸ“–

Building Open Source Communities at AWS Serverless
Sanath Kumar Ramesh from AWS talks about the open source community around serverless developer tools, and his story about open sourcing two AWS products.

Surviving Azure Functions
Ali Zahid recounts the last year of being forced to work with Azure Functions, what he learned, and some of the challenges his team faced.

Australian Wool Handlers (AWH)β€Šβ€”β€ŠCase Study
A bit of a marketing piece for NONA, but the underlying solution for AWH was built using AWS and serverless components. Always nice to see large scale, successful serverless projects.

Lambda + Twilio + WhatsApp = Automated VISA Results Informer
Sort of a mix between a use case and serverless story. Anuraag Jain wrote a simple serverless tool one Sunday afternoon to check his VISA status.

Filling stadiums with serverless computing
“From an operations and management standpoint, we don’t need to be the experts at running a MongoDB database. And we don’t need to be experts in running some kind of streaming platform. We’ve got to be experts in being able to use it as a ticketing platform. But we don’t need to be the experts running it.” ~ Tane Oakes, Ticketek

Serverless Use Cases πŸ—Ί

Hybrid Load Balancing traffic between EC2 and Lambda functions – useful API migration pattern
Rafal Wilinski outlines how to implement the Strangler Pattern to migrate to serverless using AWS ALBs, Lambda functions, and the Serverless Framework.

AWS Step Functionsβ€Šβ€”β€Šwhy you should use them.
A bit of a tutorial as well, but a good post by Keith Coughtrey that shows the value of Step Functions in a real-world application.

Using Lambda Layers for Better Serverless Architecture
Renato Byrro from the Dashbird outlines a few use case for Lambda Layers.

Querying your AWS Cost and Usage Report using Amazon Athena
Did you know you can query your Cost and Usage report data with Athena? Erin Carlson shows you how to set up this powerful use case.

If you’re interested in learning some serverless basics… πŸ—

Understanding the Different Ways to Invoke Lambda Functions
Lambda functions are event-driven, and there are multiple ways to invoke them. George Mao breaks them down for you.

Which AWS Lambda programming language should you use?
John Demian gives you a rundown of the different runtimes supported by AWS Lambda, along with their benefits and community support.

Benchmarking AWS Lambda runtimes in 2019 (part I)
Speaking of performance, Tai Nguyen Bui runs a number of experiments to show how each runtime performs.

If you’re just starting your serverless journey… 🐣

Understanding Serverless: Tips and Resources for Building Servicefull Applications
Excellent piece by Christopher Paton that gives a great overview of serverless and clears up some misconceptions that have developed over time.

An enterprise guide to serverless computing
Kathleen Casey has compiled a number of TechTarget articles about serverless. If you’re jumping in, this might be a good starting place.

Serverless Cloud Computing: Introduction, Emergence, Limitations, and Challenges
This piece gives a good introduction to serverless (FaaS + BaaS), along with some of its advantages in modern application development.

Serverless computing: 5 things to know about the post-container world
Not sure we’re quite ready for a post-container world, but Bernard Golden outlines several things that might make you rethink choosing containers.

Serverless Tutorials πŸ—

Dynamic image resizing with Ruby and Serverless framework
Everyone loves to use serverless to resize images! πŸ˜‚ Here’s how to do it with Ruby and the Serverless Framework.

Handle AWS lambda error with API gateway integration using Typescript in a clean way
Albert Gao shows you an interesting way to wrap all your Lambdas with a higher-order function to consistently handle your errors.

Leveraging external data in Lambda@Edge
Achraf Souk guides you through some common patterns and options for reading external data in Lambda@Edge functions.

Serverless APIs for Machine Learning models
James Thomas figured out how to run MAX models on IBM Cloud Functions and expose them as serverless APIs.

How to Create Secure Internal APIs on AWS without VPCs
Eoin Shanaghy shows you how to set up internal APIs with proper authentication controls. Not a huge fan of Lambdas calling Lambdas through an API Gateway, but there are some benefits here.

Crash Course on Fan-out & Fan-in with AWS Lambda
Renato Byrro has been quite prolific as of late, and in this piece, shows you how to build a Fan-out/Fan-in process with Lambda.

Monitoring Your AWS Lambda Pipeline with Automatic Notifications
Shawn Cochran shows you how to set up CloudWatch Metrics and alarms on your Lambda functions.

Using the Data API to interact with an Amazon Aurora Serverless MySQL database
Marcilio Mendonca gives you the basics of the Data API and eight examples of queries you can run against your Aurora Serverless databases.

In Depth Guide to Serverless APIs with AWS Lambda and AWS API Gateway (Part 1)
Always love a good in depth guide. Kay Ploesser has all the steps necessary to get started with building a serverless API with Lambda and API Gateway.

AWS Lambda with Node.js: A Complete Getting Started Guide
Samuel James’ guide goes even further and gives you everything you need to know to build your first serverless application with AWS.

Globally-distributed Serverless Application in 100 Lines of Code. Infrastructure Included!
Mikhail Shilkov has a great piece for Azure and Pulumi fans.

Serverless Security πŸ”’

9 in 10 Serverless Apps Are In Deep Trouble In Frontend Security
Renato Byrro is back again, this time with some advice for storing tokens correctly on the frontend, to securely connect to your serverless backend.

Who is really responsible for cloud security?
Thought-piece by Lionel Snell on how the nature of security in the cloud is changing, and more importantly, who bears the responsibility.

From Shift Left to Shift Up: Securing Containers and Serverless Architectures
Interesting piece by Tsvi Korren that encourages DevOps to “shift left” and “shift up” to start integrating security best practices earlier in the development stage and put a greater emphasis on application security in the cloud.

strong_password v0.0.7 has been yanked, as it contained malicious code. Make sure to downgrade if you run it in production. ~ Tute Costa via Twitter
Not specific to serverless, but just another example of how popular third-party modules can be compromised.

Serverless Reads πŸ€“

The Promise and Perils of Serverless Computing
I always appreciate other people’s take on serverless as it’s interesting to see how they frame the advantages and disadvantages. This post by Krishnan Srinath points out the “security” and “vendor lock-in” FUD that are commonly spread. I did find his take on “services sprawl” to be valid.

Serverless Impactβ€Šβ€”β€ŠLess Overhead
Ryan Jones from Serverless Guru discusses the superpower of serverless that lets a new hybrid developer build massively scalable applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

The Nature of Serverless
Rodrigo Estrada’s piece is a bit hard to follow in spots, but overall offers a number of subtle points about the underlying asynchronous nature of serverless.

How serverless computing saves time and money
Ooh, a post on InfoWorld about serverless. They even pulled a quote from one of my blog posts about Aurora Serverless.

For members of the A/V Club… πŸŽ₯

Serverless Chats – Episode #4: Serverless Development Workflows with Chase Douglas
In this episode, I chat with Chase Douglas about how serverless applications change our development workflows, what a local development process looks like, and some tools we can use to help make our lives easier.

DiscoPosse Podcast – Ep 81: AWS Outposts and Serverless Twitter Thread Chat with Ben Kehoe (ben11kehoe)
Eric Wright is joined by Ben Kehoe to explore the advantages and challenges of cloud-owned features and which will be important to cloud ops and cloud developer teams everywhere.

Erez Berkner interview at Cloud Expo
The Lumigo CEO talks about serverless, observability, the applications people are building, and what some of the challenges are.

When you’re wondering what AWS has been working on… πŸ‘·β€β™€οΈ

Amazon DynamoDB now supports deleting a global secondary index before it finishes building
This is a nice update, especially for development workflows when you’re experimenting with different indexes.

AWS CodeCommit Now Supports Resource Tagging
You can now group and find repositories with a common tag as well as define AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions based on tags.

AWS Amplify Console Updates Build image with SAM CLI and Custom Container Support
The Amplify Console launched several updates to the build service including SAM CLI and custom container support. Custom containers allow developers to swap out the default container with their own build environment.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

Loving what @GunnarGrosch did on “Serverless chaos” using the Injection library I built. Got inspired by his feedback so merged his code and added a bunch of functionality: StatusCode, Exception and of course Latency injection!! Thanks mate! ~ Adrian Hornsby
Some good collaboration between Adrian and Gunnar. The more tools we have, and the better we understand how chaos engineering applies to our serverless applications, the more resilient our services will be.

Dear @awscloud, I am a real fan of AWS CloudFormation & Serverless implementation, could we please have the CloudFormation’s 200 resources limit removed. Please a humble request from a #AWS fan. #awswishlist #Serverless ~ Srujal Kachhela
This seems like a pretty straightforward request, but it started an interesting debate. Nested stacks are an eloquent solution.

To me, serverless is about the Developer Experience (DX). If these words are in the conversation, we aren’t talking serverless IMO. And I don’t think it has anything to do with how you pay for it. #serverless ~ Paulo Arruda
I liked this tweet from Paulo. Make sure you click through to see the attached image.

Upcoming Serverless Events πŸ—“

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.

July 11, 2019 – ServerlessDays London

July 11, 2019 – AWS Summit New York (I’m doing a Dev Chat on building event-driven serverless applications, with a surprise πŸ˜‰)

July 17, 2019 – IOpipe: Charting a Course for Serverless with Matson (webinar)

July 17, 2019 – Aqua Security: Serverless Runtime Protection – How to Create the Optimal Balance Between Performance and Risks (webinar)

August 27, 2019 – ServerlessDays Sydney

August 29, 2019 – ServerlessDays Melbourne

September 4-6, 2019 – Production-ready Serverless Workshop – Full Stack Fest

October 7-9, 2019 – Serverlessconf 2019 in New York City (I’m giving a talk here)

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 let me know.

This week’s star is Gojko Adzic (@gojkoadzic). Gojko is a partner at Neuri Consulting LLP, an author, and frequent speaker at software development conferences around the world. His new book, Running Serverless: Introduction to AWS Lambda and the Serverless Application Model, is now available on Kindle and in paperback (and it’s really good). Besides his other open source serverless work, he’s also one of the co-authors of Claudia.js, a serverless deployment framework for Lambda and API Gateway. Gojko continues to do a ton of work for the serverless community, and it is much appreciated! πŸ™Œ

Final Thoughts πŸ€”

It’s been another busy week with lots of interesting things happening in the serverless space. The Serverless Chats podcast is going strong with FOUR episodes already available. Plus we have some more amazing guests coming up, so stay tuned (or subscribe) for those. If you’re going to the AWS Summit New York, please be sure to stop and say “Hi!” and grab some stickers from me.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Off-by-none. Please send me your feedback and suggestions as they help to make this newsletter better each week. You can reach me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email and let me know your thoughts, criticisms, or (perhaps) even how you’d like to contribute to Off-by-none.

If you like this newsletter, and think others would too, please do me the honor of sharing it with friends and coworkers who are interested in serverless.

See you next week (or maybe at AWS Summit New York),

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Issue #46July 16, 2019

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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 β€œserver-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 ⭐️!