Off-by-none: Issue #79

March 3, 2020

Super Serverless Tuesday… ✅

Welcome to Issue #79 of Off-by-none. Thanks for being here!

Last week, we launched the Serverless Community Survey (don’t forget to take it and share it). This week, we meet some new heroes, welcome HTTP APIs support in the Serverless Framework, and upgrade our NoSQL Workbench. Plus we have loads of awesome content from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

End-to-End Observability for Serverless
Instantly monitor and troubleshoot Lambda functions to get the full picture of what they’re doing and why they fail. Agentless and automated, Epsagon delivers full visibility for containers, VMs, FaaS, and more with no training, manual coding, tagging or maintenance required. Try free today!. Sponsored

Introducing a Dart runtime for AWS Lambda
I’ve heard a lot of people championing Dart lately, though I’ve yet to spend any meaningful amount of time with it. But if you want to dive in with Dart, then this new custom runtime is for you.

Announcing Support for AWS HTTP APIs
Awesome! HTTP APIs are a great (and much cheaper) alternative to many API workloads. Now that the Serverless Framework supports them (and we get closer to the HTTP APIs GA), I think we’ll see a massive uptick in adoption of this new service.

Announcing the FaunaDB Extension for Visual Studio Code
This extension allows users to browse their FaunaDB databases, indexes, collections, documents, and functions from right inside of the VS Code sidebar.

Get to know the latest AWS Heroes, including the first IoT Heroes!
Congratulations to all the new AWS Heroes, including some new serverless ones!

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

Handling 350k Requests for $3 using Lambda
Insightful post by Burak Karakan on how his browser extension side project is handling hundreds of thousands of API calls per month for less than $3. He makes a number of serverless criticisms as well, mostly around the common arguments of observability and vendor lock-in. While he does praise Lambda, he also argues for a limited set of use cases, then offers Docker and Kubernetes as an alternative. I find this a bit antithetical to his “set it and forget” and ease of “serverless deploy” arguments from earlier. Opinions are fine, but pigeonholing use cases makes adoption harder IMO.

The Serverless Path to DevOps
Excellent article by Sarjeel Yusuf about the DevOps use cases enabled by serverless tools and why implementing them is a no-brainer. I’ve always loved this approach to serverless adoption, because it has the immediate benefit of improving the reliability and resiliency of your entire infrastructure, even if you’re still running VMs.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Amazon API Gateway HTTP APIs with the Serverless Framework
Eduardo Rabelo adds some additional detail about the differences between API Gateway REST and HTTP APIs, why you should choose one over the other, and some implementation details using the recently added Serverless Framework support.

Serverless Auth with AWS HTTP APIs
Now that the Serverless Framework supports HTTP APIs, why not take advantage of the built-in authorizer support? This post from Fernando Medina Corey will show you how to use JSON Web Tokens to authorize your endpoints against Cognito.

“Serverless Transformation: at any scale” Preview Chapter
Ben Ellerby from Theodo has started working on a book about transforming your organization to a serverless-first approach, and you can get a preview chapter for free.

Inter-service communication channels for serverless microservices in AWS
Paul Swail shares some pros and cons for using different methods to pass messages between serverless microservices. There is some good information in here. A key thing to remember with inter-service communication is making sure you have message durability and sound replay strategies.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

Setup AWS CI/CD for Serverless Deployment
Another day, another way to setup a serverless CI/CD process. Jay Desai shows you step by step how he does it.

Build a global serverless application in 30 minutes with AWS CDK.
Brian Foody shows you how to use AWS CDK to deploy a multi-region serverless application, complete with Route 53 Latency-based routing and global DynamoDB tables.

Getting started with AWS, Serverless & TypeScript
Michael Timbs gives you a complete set of instructions, along with all the tools, plugins and tweaks you’ll need to set up your first Serverless Framework project on AWS with TypeScript.

Optimise your Lambda functions using Webpack
This is something that should be built-in to every Node.js serverless deployment. I do this with all my projects, and I highly recommend you do as well.

Simple Firebase Authorization for AWS Lambda and API Gateway
Everyone’s jumping in on this HTTP APIs JWT authorizer capability. Joseph King shows you how to use Firebase as your issuer from both the console, and with IaC using the new support from the Serverless Framework.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Supercharge Development, Delivery and Management of Serverless Applications
Stackery empowers enterprise development teams to deliver Well-Architected serverless applications quickly, securely, and at scale— without the overhead of complex infrastructure and operations management. Accelerate overall development and secure delivery of serverless applications by up to 60x – so your team can focus on perfecting core business logic. Sponsored

10 Tips to Optimize Your DynamoDB Costs
I have some notes for a similar post, but until I can find time to finish it, Rafal Wilinski’s should hold you over. Lots of really good suggestions in here to cut down your total DynamoDB bill.

Creating Stream Processors with AWS Lambda Functions
John Gilbert discusses his approach to stream processing in Lambda using his aws-lambda-stream library. I think this is an interesting approach, but I think some of this complexity is better off handled by the cloud. I do really like some of the built in functional programming components.

Catching up with Google BigQuery
Informative post by Tony Baer about some of the recent moves made by GCP to add to their BigQuery offering. This idea of running ML models from SQL is something other clouds are working on too, but adding more powerful computation to the data engine enhances GCP’s already powerful serverless data offering.

ABL in focus #8: Instrumenting distributed systems for operational visibility
Efi Merdler-Kravitz shares is notes on David Yanacek’s post from the Amazon Builders’ Library. Lots of great bullet points in here with some practical advice from Efi himself.

How do I structure a monorepo serverless project with the Serverless Framework?
Ryan Jones outlines how he sets up a monorepo for serverless projects. It’s such a tough call sometimes balancing the pros and cons of a mono- versus multi-repo setups, especially when it comes to CI/CD. But as he points out, the new Serverless Framework Pro can handle this quite nicely, which might make the choice easier.

For the commuter… 🚎

Serverless Chats Podcast – Episode #38: From Digital to Serverless Transformation with Ben Ellerby
In this episode, I chat with Ben Ellerby about the evolution from digital to serverless transformation, why hands-on experience is important to understanding what serverless actually is, the current problems with complexity, and why you can’t be cloud native without embracing some form of lock-in.

Intro to Amazon EventBridge
James Beswick covers the challenges and benefits of implementing an event-driven design using EventBridge. It’s a relatively short video, but it is packed with lots of really useful information.

New from AWS 🆕

NoSQL Workbench for Amazon DynamoDB is now generally available
I really love this tool, so I’m glad to see that it’s now GA. I did give the latest version a test drive, and there are still a few things I’d like to see changed, but overall, it is really great to work with.

Automate index management with Amazon Elasticsearch Service
Now if they can just make it fully serverless! But seriously, these are great additions that certainly cut down some of the ongoing operational management.

Amazon Managed Cassandra Service now enables you to add new columns to existing tables
I didn’t even know you couldn’t do this! Well, if this was holding you back, this update should make you happy. I prefer to stick with DynamoDB, but maybe that’s just me.

Amazon Athena adds support for querying data in S3 buckets using AWS Identity and Access Management’s aws:CalledVia condition key
This is a nice security feature that was added to S3. I use Athena all the time, and making this work in the past forced you to skip some of the additional security controls available to you.

AWS Step Functions now supports CloudWatch Logs for standard workflows
You can now use AWS Step Functions to log workflow execution history to CloudWatch Logs, which make it faster and easier to monitor event-driven, serverless workflows.

AWS Lambda@Edge now supports Node 12.x and Python 3.8
You can now use Node.js 12.x and Python 3.8 to develop functions in Lambda@Edge, but you still have to wait quite some time for your code changes to propagate. 🤷‍♂️

Amazon Transcribe now supports automatic content redaction
This seems like a really cool feature for the right use cases. However, I stopped using Transcribe a while ago because the quality just wasn’t high enough, so I’d be interested in hearing how effective this is, especially when it eventually supports non-English languages.

AWS Control Tower now supports single-step account provisioning
This looks like another step in the right direction for Control Tower. You still need to set up a new master account to use Control Tower, so maybe a project for another day.

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.

March 10, 2020 – How Best Friends Animal Society Shifts-Left with Security Strategy on AWS Serverless Infrastructure (webinar)

March 19, 2020 – ServerlessDays Zürich

March 24, 2020 – ServerlessDays Helsinki 🗣

March 27, 2020 ServerlessDays Hamburg (Rescheduled to October 2)

April 6, 2020 – ServerlessDays Boston

April 20, 2020 – ServerlessDays Auckland

April 23, 2020 – ServerlessDays Vienna

April 24, 2020 – ServerlessDays Paris

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 Shingo Yoshida (@yoshidashingo). Shingo is the CTO of CYDAS, a cloud-based human resource empowerment platform, as well as the founder of Section-9, which, among many other things, helps companies with AWS migration and optimization. Shingo is actively involved in the serverless community, founding Serverless Community (JP), and is also a member of the Japan AWS User Group. Additionally, Shingo was named a 2019 AWS Serverless Hero for his contributions through community events, blog posts, and books focused on serverless. Thank you, Shingo, for being an advocate for serverless! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

It’s bittersweet to think of the awesome time I had at ServerlessDays Nashville last week. The organizers put on a heck of a show in an amazing and vibrant city. My heart goes out to all the people affected by the recent tornado. I’m hoping their community can recover quickly. 🙏

In brighter news, please don’t forget to take the Serverless Community Survey and share it with all your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, pets, etc. The data collected will be 100% open sourced and available to anyone that wants to use it. The more responses we get, the more valuable the data will be.

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.

Take care,

Previous Issue

Issue #78February 25, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #80March 10, 2020

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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 ⭐️!