Off-by-none: Issue #46

July 16, 2019

Building Serverless Event Bridges… 🌉

Welcome to Issue #46 of Off-by-none. I’m so happy that you’re here! 😃

Last week, we pondered how companies adopt serverless and previewed AWS Summit New York. This week, we take a deep dive into the new Amazon EventBridge service and share some amazing stories, tutorials, and content from the serverless community.

There is a lot to get to this week, so let’s get to it! 🏃‍♂️

When you’re wondering why EventBridge is such a big deal #NoMoreWebhooks…🤓

Last week Thursday was very exciting for all us serverless nerds out there. Werner Vogels introduced Amazon EventBridge in his keynote, and several people quickly took notice of how powerful this new service is. Besides this excellent post by Mike Deck, a few others had some rather good things to say about it:

Amazon EventBridge: The biggest thing since AWS Lambda itself
Jared Short made this rather bold claim, but I wholeheartedly agree. Yes, CloudWatch Events has been around for awhile, but custom event buses and partner integrations elevate events to first-class citizens within the AWS ecosystem. This is important.

Why Amazon EventBridge will change the way you build serverless applications
Paul Johnston gets it too. He also said that EventBridge is “the most important release for serverless applications since Lambda.” CloudWatch Events was a clever way to coordinate custom events without needing SNS or Kinesis, but now Paul says, “EventBridge has become a central pivot to a serverless applications on AWS.”

There have also been a few posts that show it in use:

If you want even more insights into what you can do with EventBridge, listen to the latest episode of Serverless Chats (Episode #5: Event-Driven Applications using Amazon EventBridge with Mike Deck) where Mike Deck and I chat all about it.

Serverless News & Product Announcements 🚀

Announcing Stackery’s AWS DevOps Competency – Professional Workflow & Tooling For Building On AWS Serverless
To achieve this certification, APN Partners must show AWS expertise and deliver solutions seamlessly on AWS. It’s great to see Stackery keeping up the good work!

Protego Labs Announces Enhancements with New Pipeline Integration Tool
With the enhancements and new functionality, Protego makes it easier for organizations to truly shift security left from development through to deployment, in a smooth and frictionless manner.

Serverless Guru Joins Serverless as a Development Partner
With this partnership in place, Serverless Guru will be able to work more closely with Serverless, Inc. on delivering solutions for its customers. The two companies will collaborate on training and supporting customers as well as building out further functionality in the Serverless Framework.

Serverless Plugin Support Program
This new program reviews community plugins to ensure specific standards are met. Enterprise customers can then be assured that Serverless, Inc. will support approved plugins used within their applications.

AWS Serverless Hero Yan Cui joins Lumigo
The legendary Yan Cui (aka The Burning Monk) joins Lumigo to head up their serverless consulting team. We should expect to see some great serverless stuff coming from this new partnership.

Serverless Stories 📖

How I made AWS Lambda work for my SaaS
Tim Nolet gives an overview of how he built his SaaS company, Checkly, using Lambda and other AWS services. Lots of interesting commentary in here, and nice reuse of Lambda functions for both synchronous and asynchronous use cases.

How BuildCenter and Serverless Guru Streamlined Their Serverless Development Cycle
Interesting case study that shows how Serverless Guru helped BuildCenter adopt the Serverless Framework.

Serverless data engineering at Zalando with the AWS CDK
Viacheslav Inozemtsev and the team at Zalando are big fans of the AWS CDK. Read how they used it to speed up their development lifecycle.

How we built a serverless architecture with AWS
A detailed look at Hypertrack’s AWS architecture and how they use serverless to implement live location for their developers’ apps.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

How to Use R in AWS Lambda
Jakub Nowicki shows you how you can use R with Lambda functions and Lambda Layers to preprocess data for your ML models.

Orchestrating an ETL process using AWS Step Functions for Amazon Redshift
This is a great use case for Lambda and Step Functions. Thiyagarajan Arumugam shows you how to run serverless ETL tasks to refresh data from your source systems.

SAP IDoc integration with Amazon S3 by using Amazon API Gateway
In this blog post, you’ll see how to store SAP IDocs in Amazon S3 by using API Gateway, with AWS Lambda authorizers and Amazon Cognito both providing the authentication layer.

Responding to SMS in PHP using AWS Lambda and Bref
Simple use case for responding to SMS messages with Lambda functions and PHP.

If you’re interested in learning some serverless basics… 🏗

S3 or DynamoDB?
This is an excerpt from Gojko Adzic’s new book. Picking the right service for your key-based storage workflow should be a little easier after reading this.

Best Practices for Developing on AWS Lambda
George Mao gives you five tips for building applications with AWS Lambda. Pay special attention to #1, “When to VPC-Enable a Lambda Function.”

CloudFormation Nested Stacks Primer
This is an excellent primer by Jared Short from Trek10. The 200 resource limit from CloudFormation does creep up from time to time, and the reusability of child stacks is a very powerful thing. Just be sure you are aware of the “rough edges.”

AWS Step Functions 101
John Demian from the Dashbird gives you some basics of Step Functions, how they work, and when you might want to use them.

Simplify AWS Lambda Dependencies Using Layers
A simply overview of Lambda Layers by Jordan Chalupka.

Benchmarking AWS Lambda runtimes in 2019 (Part II)
The Agile Monkeys are back with Part II of their benchmarking tests, this time using a CRUD simulation. Interesting to see the performance stats, especially from API Gateway.

Understand Lambda Logging and Unlock CloudWatch Logs
Zac Charles explains how Groups, Streams, and Events fit together, describes some relevant parts of the CloudWatch API and how Lambda interacts with it, then explains how to make use of your logs after they’re sent to CloudWatch.

Serverless Tips
The team over at launched a series of Serverless Tips that are worth checking out. Some of the latest posts include:

If you’re just starting your serverless journey… 🐣

Six Things You Need to Know Before Going Serverless
Charbel Ghossain’s post is quite thorough and gives you some things to consider before jumping into your first serverless project.

Awfully Thorough Guide to Choosing the Best Serverless Solution
Speaking of thorough, Ilya Kritsmer outlines the event triggers, supported languages, performance, security, scaling capabilities, and much more, of the serverless offerings from the “Big Four” cloud providers.

Is AWS Lambda actually useful?
If you’ve seen even just a few of Lambda’s use cases, then you know this is a silly question, but Nemanja Novkovic gives some more context for the newbies out there.

Getting Started with AWS Lambda Event Sources
Renato Byrro has another post, this time highlighting the power of event-driven applications and giving some examples of event sources that can trigger our serverless workloads.

Consider DynamoDB for Your Next Data-Driven Application
This is a great post by Luke Mwila that gives a great overview of DynamoDB and why it may (or may not) be right for your next project.

Serverless Tutorials 🏗

GraphQLifying REST
Nader Dabit shows you how to put a GraphQL API (using AppSync) in front of an existing REST API to immediately add GraphQL to your project without a lot of engineering work.

Basic Integration Testing with Serverless Framework
Maciej Skierkowski from Serverless, Inc. shows you how to use the framework’s new integration testing feature to run some simple post deploy API tests.

In Depth Guide to Serverless APIs with AWS Lambda and AWS API Gateway (Part 2)
Kay Ploesser’s follow up to Part 1. This part uploads an image, adds image recognition, and a whole lot more.

Unit Test Serverless Applications The DevOps Way — Part 1 & Part 2
Mahdi Azarboon has a two part post that shows you his method for building unit tests for serverless, along with integrating them into a CI/CD pipeline for deployment.

Using TypeScript with AWS SAM Local
In this post, Henrik Bjørnskov explains how he sets up AWS SAM projects using Webpack and TypeScript.

How YOU can create a Serverless API in C# and .NET
In this article, Chris Noring takes you through building a Serverless function using C#,.NET, and Azure Functions.

Serverless Security 🔒

How to get specific security information about AWS services
Well this is pretty cool. AWS has created “Security Chapters” in the AWS documentation for over 40 different services. Lots of great information for serverless services like DynamoDB and Lambda.

Serverless Security Workshop
Talk about a dream team of serverless know-how! Danilo, James, Heitor and Simon (you know who I’m talking about) put on a Serverless Security workshop at ServerlessDays London last week. Here are the slides and a link to the Github repo.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Development workflow for serverless applications
Efi Merdler-Kravitz from Lumigo details the guiding principles and tools used at a 100% serverless company to ensure the most efficient workflow possible.

The real business value Comic Relief has unlocked by going Serverless
Caroline Rennie has written about this before, but this time gives a little more detail about some of the more nuanced advantages that going Serverless has unlocked for her organization.

From Laptop to Lambda: Outsourcing Everyday Jobs to Thousands of Transient Functional Containers (PDF)
A team from Stanford created, gg, a framework and set of command-line tools that lets you run thousands of parallel threads on FaaS to achieve incredibly fast completion times. It’s a long read, but very interesting.

Why does serverless matter?
Kevin Smith from Dootrix explains why serverless is important and what it has done for some of their clients, like Suffolk Libraries.

What to do if you’ve already finished season 3 of Stranger Things… 🍿

Serverless Chats – Episode #5: Event-Driven Applications using Amazon EventBridge with Mike Deck
In this episode, I chat with Mike Deck about Amazon EventBridge and how it works, what it means for the future of webhooks, and how we can use it to build serverless event-driven applications.

Vue.js and Serverless – Going Serverless with Vue.js
Divya Sasidharan examines strategies for building applications in VueJS with a serverless mindset. She walks us through real life use cases for making API calls and communicating with third party services.

Serverless is the Abstraction We Deserve – GOTO 2019
Jesse Butler gives an excellent talk about the benefits of serverless and what this new layer of abstraction means for developers. And he works for Oracle, so there’s that. – Episode 029: Building Serverless Apps on AWS
Yan Cui joins Mike Pfeiffer to discuss a number of serverless topics, including data lock-in, tooling, and much more.

Twilio & Serverless – Serverless Toronto Meetup
Developer evangelist, Phil Nash, from Twilio talks about Node.js-powered Twilio Functions, the new Autopilot, and some new features coming soon.

The Future of Serverless is … Functionless?
What if we could build an API that didn’t need Lambda to perform simple translations between services? Richard Boyd’s ongoing crusade to minimize the use of Lambda function continues. 🛡⚔️😀

If you’re curious what the AWS devs have been cranking on… 👷‍♀️

Announcing AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code
The toolkit enables you to easily develop serverless applications, including creating a new project, local debugging, and deploying your project—all conveniently from within the editor. The toolkit supports Node.js, Python, and .NET.

Amazon Elasticsearch Service increases data protection with automated hourly snapshots at no extra charge
Amazon Elasticsearch Service has increased its snapshot frequency from daily to hourly, providing more granular recovery points. If you need to restore your cluster, you now have numerous, recent snapshots to choose from.

Amplify Framework adds support for AWS Lambda Triggers in Auth and Storage categories
The Amplify CLI now allows you to enable and configure Lambda triggers for building custom authentication flows in your mobile and web applications.

Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL Compatibility Supports Serverless
PostgreSQL lovers rejoice! The popular MySQL compatible edition is now joined by a PostgreSQL version. All the same benefits and scaling capabilities are available. More info here.

AWS New York Summit 2019 – Summary of Launches & Announcements
The New York Summit was last week, and there were a few more interesting announcements beyond EventBridge.

Session Manager launches tunneling support for SSH and SCP
I haven’t played around with this yet, but if I can get rid of jump boxes when accessing VPCs from my local environment, than this is pretty big!

Serverless Tools 🛠

Lambda Checklist
The Lambda Checklist Application is perfect for meticulous serverless engineers!

buggy/aws-sam-webpack-plugin: A Webpack plugin to replace the build step for SAM CLI
Neat tool by Rich Buggy that you can use to replace the sam build step if every function in your template uses the nodejs8.10 or nodejs10.x runtime.

Plugins Explorer | Serverless Plugins Directory
The new plugins directory lets you search for plugins and see which ones are now “certified” or “approved” by Serverless, Inc.

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.

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)

July 22, 2019 – Lumigo: Serverless at Full Speed – Monitoring 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)

October 14-16, 2019 – Serverless Architecture Conference Berlin

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 Erez Berkner (@erezberkner). Erez is the CEO & co-founder of Lumigo, a startup focusing on serverless application monitoring. Erez is always out there spreading the word of serverless, whether through Twitter and blog posts, or through his numerous speaking engagements and interviews. Since the beginning, Erez and Lumigo have embraced and contributed to the growth of the serverless community, and has used the Lumigo platform to engage and educate people on the benefits of serverless. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Thanks for all you do, Erez! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

There were a lot of exciting serverless announcements this past week, plus a very successful ServerlessDays London event, so congrats to the organizing team over there. But there were also lots of dumb and incredibly hurtful things said that are becoming normalized in our culture (and I’m not just talking about that 10x Engineer nonsense). So without getting political, I’ll simply make a naive plea and ask that we all try to be better people, or in the words of Bill & Ted, “be excellent to one another.”

I’ll leave you with this excellent piece by Emma Wedekind: 101 Tips For Being A Great Programmer (& Human).

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.

Until next time,

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Issue #47July 23, 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 “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 ⭐️!