Off-by-none: Issue #8

October 23, 2018

No need to ask, he’s a smooth (dev) operator 👨🏻‍💻

Welcome to Issue #8 of Off-by-none. I’m so glad you’re here for another serverless conversation! 🎉

Last week we discussed what 15 Minute Lambda Functions Tells Us About the Future of Serverless and why the business value of serverless is such a huge win for developers and companies. This week I want to focus on how serverless changes the “Ops” side of the DevOps equation. I have a few thoughts, plus there’s a lot of good stuff out there for us to learn from.

Here we go!

When you want to listen to a bunch of smart people (and me) talk about serverless… ⚡️

If you’re not busy at 2pm ET today, go sign up for Epsagon’s More than Functions webinar. Yan Cui, Corey Quinn, Ran Ribenzaft, and I will be talking about the future of serverless observability, the challenges, and the importance of monitoring your entire application and not just your functions. Should be an interesting conversation.

When you just want to cozy up with a cup of coffee and a good book (about serverless)… ☕️ 📖

Aleksandar Simovic and Slobodan Stojanović‘s book, Serverless Applications with Node.js, made it onto the list of the 18 Best New Node.js Books To Read In 2018. Lots of useful information in there, and congrats to them!

Also, Tom McLaughlin just published a new ebook: “Serverless DevOps: What do we do when the server goes away?” He does a great job outlining how serverless has changed the role of DevOps in organizations and how teams can adapt. If you are planning on migrating some of your apps to serverless, or are building new greenfield apps on serverless, this 80+ page book is worth the read. You can download the book for free.

When you want to read even more about serverless and DevOps… 👩‍💻

NewRelic published a great post earlier this year outlining 6 Priorities for Ops in a ‘Serverless’ World. The only thing they left off the list was “observability”, which could be a full-time job for large serverless deployments.❗️

James Governor’s post, “Serverless and the the death of devops”. Can you not?, was written well over a year ago, but is still an excellent read refuting the #NoOps myth. 💻

Finally, it’s good to know that even though DevOps needs to adapt to serverless deployments, there are plenty of tools being developed to help us out. The New Stack has provided a list of 7 Essential DevOps Tools to Maintain Serverless Operations. I’m not sure you can go wrong with any of these. 🛠

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 Tom McLaughlin (@tmclaughbos). Tom is the founder of ServerlessOps, a consulting firm that helps organization with their DevOps transformation and AWS cloud adoption. He’s also a vocal advocate for serverless and a regular speaker at conferences like DevOpsDays. Not only is his company’s blog a great source for serverless content, but this week he published the ebook we mentioned earlier, Serverless DevOps: What do we do when the server goes away? This book is a gift to the serverless community. It’s well organized and loaded with ideas, answers, and practical advice for any team looking to adopt serverless.

Final Thoughts 🤔

I’ve spent (or wasted, perhaps) thousand of hours configuring, patching, and automating servers and application deployments. 15 years ago, when I owned my own web hosting company, I would drive an hour to our datacenter at 2 am to swap out a bad hard drive or memory chip. 10 years ago, I would remote terminal in and swap a VMware image to another blade server or rebalance the RAID on my SAN. 5 years ago I would log in to the AWS Console and launch a new instance from a snapshot or run a CloudFormation template. Today, I configure a YAML file and type a few commands into my terminal window.

There has been this continuous evolution over the years as we’ve migrated our applications and infrastructures to the cloud. It started with a clear separation of concerns between system engineers and application developers. As part of this transition, system engineers became less about the hardware and more about configuration, automation, and operational management. The DevOps culture saw operations people move closer to the application stack, not only planning infrastructure, but also helping optimize applications to run in these new environments.

Now, with serverless, the configuration is fairly minimal, and a vast majority of the operational components are handled by the cloud provider. This has moved developers closer to the infrastructure, giving them freedom to push applications into production without much help from operations at all. However, this freedom is a bit of a double-edged sword. Most developers aren’t operations people and lack important foundations in security, scalability and application resiliency. Distributed applications (especially serverless ones) add new layers of complexity that we can’t expect our developers to master.

So is operations going away in a serverless world? I really don’t think so. While it’s certainly true that more adaptation will be required of them, we still need people to do things like plan and handle disaster recovery, configure and optimize managed services/databases, analyze tracing reports, replay failed events, and monitor overall system health. Sure they may need to jump in and help code once in awhile, but to rely on only developers to navigate and support the complexity of serverless cloud-based applications, IMO, would be taking a huge risk.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Off-by-none. Your feedback and suggestions are always most welcome. Contact me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email and let me know your thoughts, criticisms, and how you’d like to contribute to Off-by-none. Your input helps me make this newsletter better each week.

Go build some great serverless apps (and support them with Ops people 😀). Hope to see you all next time!

Take care,

Previous Issue

Issue #7October 16, 2018

Next Issue

Issue #9October 30, 2018

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About the Author

Jeremy is an AWS Serverless Hero that has a soft spot for helping people solve problems using serverless, and 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, 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 ⭐️!