Off-by-none: Issue #68

December 17, 2019

Sorry, we’re still talking about re:Invent… 🤷‍♂️

Welcome to Issue #68 of Off-by-none. Thanks for being here!

Last week, we looked at a few of the big serverless announcements from re:Invent. This week, we’ve got some more great content and video recommendations from re:Invent, plus some awesome stuff from the serverless community.

Let’s get right to it! 🏎

Yup, there’s more stuff from re:Invent…

AWS Events Content
Didn’t get to go to all the sessions you wanted to at re:Invent? Well, you’re in luck, because hundreds of slide decks are now available on the AWS site. Most of the videos are available on YouTube as well.

AWS re:Invent 2019: A serverless journey: AWS Lambda under the hood (SVS405)
If you’re overwhelmed by the re:Invent session catalog and want some help choosing something to watch, I highly recommend taking a look at Holly Mesrobian and Marc Brooker’s presentation of AWS Lambda under the hood. Pay special attention to how Holly explains the error handling and retry mechanisms built into Lambda. Then architect your system to use them and let the cloud manage it for you.

Recap of AWS re:Invent 2019
I’m sure you’re sick of reading re:Invent recaps, but this one by Richard Seroter gives a great overview of all the main announcements (along with links) and will leave you feeling like you didn’t miss anything (which you probably did).

Marcia Villalba shares all her favorite serverless launches from re:Invent in this awesome series of videos.

AWS re:Invent 2019 Swag Review
And finally, the really important stuff from re:Invent… swag. I spent a grand total of about 3 hours in the expo hall and only grabbed a few shirts and some stickers. Nick Triantafillou, on the other hand, somehow managed to document the offerings of all 12 million vendors (give or take). If you need to give your marketing team some ideas, forward them this link.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

Atlassian launches new serverless cloud development platform
“Forge will empower developers to more easily build and run enterprise-ready cloud apps that integrate with Atlassian products.” Oh yeah, and it’s powered by AWS Lambda.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

Deploy a Symfony application with AWS Lambda: in-depth analysis on advanced use
If you really want to run Symfony with AWS Lambda, then Alessandro Minoccheri shows you how to extend the basic application with more details on using the tmp folder, environment variables, and event triggers.

An Introduction to AWS Cognito
This is a good summary of the pros and cons of AWS Cognito. As with most opinionated systems, the lack of control can be an issue, but the use cases (especially being able to provide authentication to other AWS resources) makes it a compelling choice for the right types of workloads.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Lambda Destinations: What We Learned the Hard Way
Jared Short and Forrest Brazeal spent some time banging on the new Lambda Destinations feature in AWS Lambda. There are some interesting complexities that you need to be aware of, and thanks to this post, now you will be.

Is it possible to debug Lambdas locally?
There seems to be a million ways to test, deploy, and manage your Lambda functions now. But even with all these tools, serverless development workflows still feel a bit clunky. Serkan Özal outlines a few different ways to structure code for local testing as well as explains how you can use cloud debugging for tracing more complex data flows.

Tips on unit testing AWS lambda’s SNS/SQS communication with Node
Marek Krzynówek gives you some ideas for testing your asynchronous Lambda functions. If you read this article and think, “wow, this looks really complicated,” you’re not alone. Testing shouldn’t be this hard.

Serverless Tutorials 🏗

microVM: Another Level of Abstraction for Serverless Computing
When AWS released Firecracker as an open source project last year, I heard many rumblings that nobody would do anything with it besides AWS. Mostafa Moradian has built a project that makes it easier to work with directly. I’m not sure exactly what I would do with it, but I bet there are a few of you out there that will come up with something really interesting.

AWS Serverless Application Model for ASP.Net Core Apps
If you are looking to go serverless with your ASP.Net Core apps, Ravi Aakula has a full walkthrough for you.

TensorFlow Image Recognition Tutorial using Serverless Architecture
Here’s another mind-bending machine learning tutorial from the Towards Data Science blog. This time, Raghav Prabhu uses a Convolutional Neural Network’s MobileNet model to perform image recognition with AWS Lambda. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.

Serverless GraphQL on Adobe I/O Runtime
I’m a big fan of Adobe’s (and other SaaS platforms’) strategy around enabling ephemeral compute for their customers. Lots of interesting things can be done to enhance and optimize your workflows within a provider’s ecosystem. This article shows how they implement GraphQL with schema delegation on the I/O Runtime. Cool stuff.

Serverless application development with Node.js on AWS platform using Serverless framework
It’s been a while since I’ve included a getting started tutorial, so here’s something for the newbies. Gökhan Olgun has a very detailed article that walks you through the basics of building out a serverless API with a DynamoDB backend. Couple of minor nits: don’t use scan and use the DocumentClient to marshall/unmarshall those hideous DynamoDB type mappings.

How to write and test a serverless plugin
Davide de Paolis has a helpful article that can get you writing your own Serverless Framework plugins in no time.

Serverless Security 🔒

Waging a Winning WAR in AWS
Ignoring the hard sell at the end, this article makes a pretty good case for doing an AWS Well-Architected Review on your critical workloads.

‘Alexa, hack my serverless technology’ – attacking web apps with voice commands
There’s no substitute for good coding practices, and certainly, serverless applications are no exception. Event-driven applications (like serverless) offer many more sources of user supplied data. While we may not have WAFs to protect us, implementing some good old fashioned data validation can go a long way.

Serverless Reads 🤓

In Defence of “Serverless” —the term
Ben Ellerby defends the word serverless and attempts to define the boundaries of the term. Reminds me of my rant from last year that ended up turning into a keynote. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

AWS to Meld Containerd and Fargate
If you’re curious why Fargate running on micro-vms is so amazing, this article by Mike Vizard will give you a good summary of Claire Liguori’s explanation from re:Invent.

Amazon Managed Apache Cassandra Service stokes competition
On the list of databases that could benefit from being fully-managed and serverless, Cassandra was definitely near the top of the list. This article gets some perspective from others in the Cassandra ecosystem, with some hoping that a rising tide raises all ships. Ultimately for AWS, this was an incredibly smart move, and I think taking away the pains of managing your own Cassandra ring is probably worth missing out on a few features.

For the commuter… 🚎

Serverless Chats – Episode #27: ServerlessDays Going Global with Ant Stanley
In this episode, I chat with Ant Stanley about the history of ServerlessDays, how the serverless-focused conference has grown over the last few years, and what the global organizing team is doing to make it easier for new organizers to host an event.

What the teams at AWS have been working on… 🚧

Amazon CloudWatch Contributor Insights for Amazon DynamoDB (Preview) is now available in 15 additional AWS Regions
This is a super cool tool, so it’s good to see it being offered in more regions.

Amazon MQ introduces throughput-optimized message brokers
Amazon MQ now supports throughput-optimized message brokers, backed by Amazon Elastic Block Store. Throughput-optimized brokers reduce the number of required brokers and the cost of operating high-volume applications.

AWS Security Hub integrates with Amazon Detective
AWS Security Hub now integrates with Amazon Detective (preview). Amazon Detective makes it easy to analyze, investigate, and quickly identify the root cause of security findings or suspicious activities.

AWS CloudFormation updates for Amazon API Gateway, AWS CodePipeline, Amazon S3, AWS IAM, Amazon ECS, Amazon RDS, Amazon ES, AWS Lambda and more
AWS CloudFormation adds support for over two dozen new and updated CloudFormation resource types. These include the new HTTP API, Provisioned Concurrency, Lambda Destinations, and many more.

Amazon SQS Now Supports 1-Minute CloudWatch Metrics
Seems like a simple thing, but if you’ve ever had a queue backup, then you’ll welcome the added granularity.

AWS CodeBuild Now Supports Cross-Account Resource Sharing
Need to take a closer look at this, but I’m hoping I can ditch the cross-account roles in a shared services account and trigger CodeBuild projects in target accounts from shared CodePipelines.

Amazon CloudFront now provides seven new data fields in access logs
Ooh, I like the new time-to-first-byte metric.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Introducing sls-dev-tools
This looks like a promising project from Ben Ellerby and the team over at Theodo. They say it is “Chrome Dev Tools for the Serverless World.”

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.

December 20, 2019 – Using Relational Databases with AWS Lambda – Easy Connection Pooling (Webinar)

January 24, 2020 – ServerlessDays Belfast (I’m speaking here!)

February 13, 2020 – ServerlessDays Cardiff (And here!)

February 21, 2020 – ServerlessDays Rome

February 27, 2020 – ServerlessDays Nashville (And also 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 Adam Johnson (@adjohn). Adam is currently the Principal Product Manager for Serverless at New Relic, but you might know him from his days at the helm of IOpipe, where he was co-founder and CEO. IOpipe helped developers and engineering teams get real-time visibility into the detailed behaviors of their serverless applications. Adam and the IOpipe team have since joined forces with New Relic, and I look forward to the innovations his new team will make to the serverless ecosystem. Thank you for helping to build great tools for serverless, Adam! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

It is amazing how long it takes to get back to normal after re:Invent, but I think I’m finally there. This past week has been a whirlwind of great discussions and follow ups from re:Invent. Lots happening, so I should have a bunch of great stuff to announce soon (including the date of ServerlessDays Boston). 2020 looks like it’ll be a great year for serverless.

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 week,

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Issue #67December 10, 2019

Next Issue

Issue #69December 24, 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.


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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 ⭐️!