Off-by-none: Issue #62

November 5, 2019

Investing in Serverless…

Welcome to Issue #62 of Off-by-none. Thanks for joining us! 👍

Last week, we looked at the new “yumda” project from Michael Hart. This week, we’ve got some exciting serverless investment/acquisition news, plus lots of great content from the serverless community.

If you’re planning on going to AWS re:Invent this year, don’t forget to register for the #ServerlessForEveryone Community Party @ AWS re:Invent 2019. We’re adding names to the waiting list, but we’d still love for you to join us and our awesome guests! We have some amazing sponsors (Stackery, Thundra, AWS, CloudZero, Lumigo, Protego, Serverless, Inc., Edrans, and New Relic Serverless) that are making this event possible. I hope you’ll be able to join us!

Plenty to get to this week, so let’s get right to it! 🚀

Serverless News & Product Announcements 📣

New Relic snags early stage serverless monitoring startup IOpipe
This is exciting news for the team over at IOpipe. They will be joining New Relic to form New Relic Serverless, bringing all their expertise along with them. Read the founders’ note here.

Webiny announces $347K seed to build open-source serverless CMS
I think this is exciting news for serverless. A self-hosted serverless CMS that rivals WordPress is desperately needed. I don’t know if Webiny is the answer to that, but a lot of work has been done on this project and it definitely has promise.

Rackspace to Acquire Onica, a Cloud-Native Consulting and Managed Services Company
This is some interesting news for the cloud. Rackspace is going all in on multi-cloud, and using Onica as a way to help customer leverage AWS’s managed services as part of their cloud migration strategies could uniquely position Rackspace.

Moving to a Self-Hosted Model With Serverless Framework
On top of that seed round, Webiny is now able to be self-hosted by deploying it with the Serverless Framework.

Serverless Stories 📖

My first 14hrs with AWS Lambda
First impressions are important, and this post by Dennis Machu captures his experience as he started to learn serverless. Not uncommon to hear that CloudWatch Logs offer a suboptimal experience. I love hearing stories like this.

Scribble : Notes everywhere!!!
Shaurya Chauhan is working on a completely serverless note-taking app built with AWS Lambda. His three reasons for building with serverless: low maintenance, low cost, and easily scalable. Hard to argue with that for startups and side projects.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

How to FaaS like a pro: 12 uncommon ways to invoke your serverless functions on AWS [Part 3]
Part 3 of Alex Casalboni’s excellent series on different ways to invoke serverless functions.

Using Google Cloud’s AutoML in AWS Lambda with API Gateway [Part 1]
This use case is the type of “multi-cloud” approach that I think works really well. Rahul Raman is calling Google’s AutoML API from a Lambda function.

When you’re looking for some advanced serverless concepts… 🏗

Check-list for going live with API Gateway and Lambda
Great post by Yan Cui that outlines (several) steps you should take to ensure that your API Gateway/Lambda project has all its bases covered. As he says, not everything on this list is absolutely necessary, but it should give you a good idea of the things you should be thinking about.

Serverless chaos engineering – interview with Emrah Samdan
Chaos engineering is fascinating, and with serverless, distributed systems, knowing how to handle failure at all levels is a must. Emrah Samdan sat down for an interview and lays out some of the basics.

An Introduction to AWS CDK
Excellent post by Efi Merdler-Kravitz that outlines the benefits of using the AWS CDK (Cloud Development Kit) instead of relying on other solutions to manage your Infrastructure-as-Code configurations.

How Do You Manage So Many Serverless Functions?
John Gilbert explains the common service patterns that he uses in serverless applications and how that helps him maintain a smaller number of functions, but still enforce single responsibility. I’ve switched to adding more functions for greater isolation, but there is definitely a management tradeoff.

Structuring a Real-World Serverless App
Frank Wong has a very detailed post outlining his suggestions for structuring a serverless app. There is a lot of good information in here, but personally, I prefer the multi-repo approach and using custom domain mappings over shared API Gateways. I wouldn’t label some of these things best practices, but rather “good practices” based on your use case.

Serverless Tutorials 🏗

Introduction to Amazon DynamoDB for Cassandra developers
This blog post introduces Amazon DynamoDB to Cassandra developers and helps them get started with DynamoDB by showing some basic operations in Cassandra and how to perform the same operations in DynamoDB.

Developing Complete Authorization Modules with AWS Lambda & Go & PostgreSQL & Event-Driven SQS Queue
Yunus Kılıç outlines a complete sample project in this post that shows you how to develop a completely serverless signup workflow using Go.

Using Serverless Framework & Localstack to test your AWS applications locally
Localstack is another option for testing your AWS serverless applications locally. This post by Antonio Reyes will give you the details on getting up and running with it.

Deploy Your Serverless Server-side-rendering (SSR)Angular App on AWS Lambda
Server-side rendering with AWS Lambda (or even Lambda@Edge) is becoming more and more popular, and I think with CloudFront on top, it’s a pretty slick solution. In this post, Neo Liu shows you how you can use Lambda for SSR with Angular.

How Do We Host Our Static Website
Hoang Le shows you how to host a serverless static website on AWS by defining a CI/CD pipeline to automate your deployment process.

Building A Serverless Backend API Part 2
Part 2 of Serkan Özal detailed tutorial on building out a serverless API.

How to create an OpenJS Architect serverless app with TypeScript
Architect is a pretty slick framework for building serverless applications. Brian Leroux shows you how to create your first serverless app built with TypeScript and Architect.

Serverless Security 🔒

State of Serverless and Security
Protego recently did a survey on the state of serverless and security. Big take away here is that 68% of respondents are not confident with their serverless security posture. Is this just normal hyper vigilance, or are cloud providers not doing enough?

Cloud Native Application Security – What You Need To Know
Cloud security is a huge topic (remember AWS’s re:Inforce conference?) that requires a lot of careful thought. This post contains some of the basics to get you thinking in the right direction.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Rethinking Serverless Architectures With EventBridge
I’m a huge fan of EventBridge and the power it adds to distributed messaging. Sarjeel Yusuf outlines why EventBridge is important, and why you should start rethinking the way you’re building serverless applications.

Late to the party? No problem. Meet serverless…
Tristan Strathearn compares serverless to other more traditional approaches using a number of factors to highlight the differences.

Forrester: The 5 ways cloud computing will change in 2020
There’s some good predictions in this post. I totally agree that hyperscale cloud alliances with SaaS companies will be huge to help move the focus back to app development. And, cloud security will definitely be at the forefront this coming year.

What to expect from serverless tech in 2020?
John Demian also has some thoughts on what to expect from serverless in 2020. He says education is sorely needed, and even though there is a lot out there, I totally agree.

Serverless: Is It The Kubernetes Killer?
Kendall Miller says “Serverless isn’t the future. But serverless is definitely a key part of the future.” I think it depends on how you define serverless. 😉

How Serverless Applications Will Change Your Business
Dorian Martin writes about six ways that adopting serverless will fundamentally change how you build and grow your business.

For the audiophile… 🎧

Serverless Chats Podcast – Episode #21: Getting Started with Serverless (Special Episode)
In this special episode, I outline a number of topics for people learning serverless, and let my guests from the first 20 episodes explain the details of each, and why they’re important.

When you’re curious what AWS is building… 👷‍♀️

AWS for WordPress plugin now available and with new Amazon CloudFront workflow
If you’re still using WordPress and would like to speed up page loads and reduce the traffic to your server, this new update to the AWS for WordPress plugin might help you. It will now manage a CloudFront distribution for you and use your WP site as the origin. I tried installing this and had some strange issues, but I have an atypical set up.

Create serverless applications with an automated deployment pipeline from the AWS Lambda console
A beta version of this feature was released early last month, but it’s not available in a bunch of regions. I really like how this bootstraps a project for you, but I wish it would generate the CloudFormation for the CI/CD process too.

Manage your Amazon API Gateway limits with AWS Service Quotas
If you haven’t looked at AWS Service Quotas yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. The AWS documentation is often a bit difficult to sift through, and this tool not only lets you see every service, what the limits are, and whether or not they are adjustable, but you can manage your quota change requests as well. Super handy.

Amplify CLI enables creating Amazon Cognito User Pool Groups, configuring fine-grained permissions on groups, and adding user management capabilities to applications
The Amplify CLI now enables developers to create Amazon Cognito User Pool Groups and configure fine grained permissions on these groups for accessing underlying backend resources such as S3, API Gateway, and AppSync.

AWS Secrets Manager now supports larger size for secrets and resource polices and higher request rate for GetSecretValue API
The GetSecretValue API call now allows up to 1,500 requests per second, plus you can store secrets that are up to 10 kb.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Designing a more approachable Serverless experience
The team over at the Agile Monkeys announced “Booster” at Serverlessconf New York. I think they are right about the learning curve, and more higher level abstractions are definitely needed. It’ll be interesting to see where this project goes and whether or not this opinionated approach will make it easier.

15 hours writing CloudFormation reduced to 15 minutes with Stackery
This is an all too familiar story for those of us who work with the beast that is CloudFormation. In many cases, writing CloudFormation by hand (even with some copy and pasting) is untenable. There are lots of abstractions for this, but Stackery’s visual builder is a pretty cool tool.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

Looks like #Serverless monitoring tools are giving up the focus on #AWS Lambda one by one. To me, this validates the obvious: AWS Lambda is still not as widely adopted as people expected after 5 years. What do you think? Does AWS Lambda still need time? ~ Serhat Can
It looks like Serhan is trying to stir some stuff up on Twitter. 😀 But he does make an astute observation about some monitoring tools shifting to a broader strategy. It’s a great thread that’s worth checking out.

Why I love #Serverless. Commerce event brought more visitors. Containers needed bit of TLC (even with the auto…) and serverless services? No one noticed they existed! That feeling, as in the MC advert, is priceless. ~ Sheen Brisals
Sheen posted about a recent traffic spike at LEGO, noting that the Lambda functions needed no special attention to handle the increased traffic.

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.

November 6-8, 2019 – Serverless Computing London

November 14, 2019 – 5 steps to improving your software engineering team’s usage of serverless (Webinar)

December 2-6, 2019 – AWS re:Invent 2019

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 Sven Al Hamad (@SvenAlHamad). Sven is the CEO and co-founder of Webiny, an open source, serverless CMS. This project was started almost two years ago, and Sven and his team’s continued dedication has resulted in a seed round to help push this project even further. Building and maintaining a project like this isn’t easy, but thanks to people like Sven, the serverless community continues to benefit from great tools like Webiny! Thanks, Sven. Keep up the great work! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

Congrats again to the teams at IOpipe and Webiny. It’s great to see investments like this into serverless projects and technologies. I’m excited to see where this leads for both of them.

I also want to thank all the #ServerlessForEveryone Community Party sponsors again. Stackery, Thundra, AWS, CloudZero, Lumigo, Protego, Serverless, Inc., Edrans, and New Relic Serverless are the ones that have made this whole thing possible. Thank you all. It’s going to be an absolute blast!

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.


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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 ⭐️!