Off-by-none: Issue #89

May 12, 2020

A Serverless Monitoring Guide… ๐Ÿ‘€

Welcome to Issue #89 of Off-by-none. Thanks for being here!

Last week, we explored the super powers of API Gateway, discussed the proper microservice size, and let Forrest Brazeal serenade us. This week, we look at a crash course on monitoring serverless apps, get a lesson in response times from the cloud architect of all cloud architects, and learn about serverless developer culture. Plus, we have tons of great content from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements ๐Ÿ“ฃ

Analyze and debug Lambda performance in Datadog
Collect custom metrics from serverless functions and correlate them with cold starts to identify patterns of customer-facing latency. Start optimizing your serverless applications with a free Datadog trial today. Sponsored

Boomi launches EventBridge iPaaS platform connector
The movement in this space is fascinating, and this integration with EventBridge is huge. Data exchange via EDA and EDI is rapidly evolving, so it’ll be interesting to see if this motivates other providers to create EventBridge integrations as well.

Converge Technology Solutions Corp. Forms Preferred Partnership with Trek10
Congratulations to Trek10 for their continued growth and success. It’s good to have smart professionals that can help teams implement serverless quickly and correctly.

Serverless Stories ๐Ÿ“–

How we built a multiplayer card game in 1 week
I love this story, because it perfectly captures the promise of serverless. Thomas Recouvreux and a friend built a real-time, multi-player online game in 5 days, and it’s 100% serverless. Sure it’s not a full-blown enterprise application, but for startups and PoCs, is there a better way?

Dashbird’s Lessons Learned from Launching a SaaS Application
I always enjoy hearing directly from the people in the trenches, an although this article from Dashbird isn’t specifically about serverless, the experiences and insights from their developers as they pushed to launch their new platform is worth a quick read.

An AWS Lambda Serverless Journey – Part 1 and Part 2
Mitul Patel has a series on building a serverless application using Java. There’s a lot of information in these first two parts, but I liked these articles because they not only give you the technical details, but also explain the reasoning behind the choices.

Serverless Use Cases ๐Ÿ—บ

How to write a TLDR chat bot
Loved this post by Chris Ismael! He shows you a hybrid approach to implementing a machine learning model that uses Lambda and SQS to do the majority of the application work, while relying on an EC2 instance to do the inferencing. Great use case in general, but also an excellent example of how serverless components make the overall implementation easier.

Combining the Best of AWS EventBridge and AWS Kinesis
Interesting pattern described here by John Gilbert. There are a lot of benefits to consuming events from Kinesis versus subscribing directly to an EventBridge bus, so I can see this being effective under the right circumstances.

Making a custom DynamicDNS service with Cloudflare Workers
A simple serverless use case that could be applicable in a number of scenarios. As the author mentions, there are plenty of services like this out there already, but the fact that it’s so easy to build with serverless says something.

Provisioning Trial Environments With Step Functions
Very cool serverless use case outlined by Gavin Cornwell, as well as a perfect use case for Step Functions.

Serverless Concepts ๐Ÿ—

Serverless Monitoring Guide
If you are responsible for monitoring a serverless application, or you soon will be, this is a great primer post from Tj Blogumas. Besides all the excellent detail provided on what to monitor, I love that there is an emphasis on Ops people getting closer to the code, and in the same vein, developers embracing repeatable deployment processes.

Why are services slow sometimes?
If there is anyone you should listen to about cloud architecture, it’s Adrian Cockcroft. This excellent piece explains a number of reasons (and the theories behind) why services can experience lower response times and what you need to think about to design around it.

The Cost of Monitoring Microservices: Managed Solutions vs. In-house
TLDR; Don’t build something that isn’t core to your business. This post by Ran Ribenzaft does a great job pointing out the “build vs. buy” argument, which is at the heart of the serverless mindset. And yes, you also need a monitoring tool.

Benefits of Serverless, and Event Driven Design
I’m sure most of you are well aware of the benefits of serverless, but this post by Craig Godden-Payne might be a good one to share with your skeptical coworkers. Simple explanations with a couple of basic patterns to tie it all together.

A tl;dr guide to Serverless Framework
I don’t think there is a shortcut to learning serverless and the cloud, but this post at least attempts it. Lots more to know than what’s included in here, but for those looking for a really quick start, this might help.

Serverless Tutorials ๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Build a Serverless Simple Flask Application with Kubeless on top of Kubernetes
I think I’m going to start embracing a few of these “serverless on top of Kubernetes” posts since they seem to be growing in popularity. Next step is to convince people that they don’t actually need Kubernetes to run their functions. Baby steps.

โšก๏ธ 5 Minute Tutorial: Deploying a Next app with AWS Amplify Hosting
Nader Dabit wrote a tutorial for deploying a Next.js app and using Amplify to host it. It’s written by Nader, so you know it’s awesome.

Build a Slackbot with AWS SAM Application
Here is this week’s edition of “How to build a Serverless Slackbot”, this time with Hongbo Liu using AWS SAM with some local debugging.

AWS Amplify Video
Alex Patterson has an excellent tutorial that shows you how to add video for live streaming or Video-on-Demand to your next Amplify project. Very cool stuff in here.

Serverless Security ๐Ÿ”’

Securing Serverless Applications
The rules for securing your serverless applications are quite straightforward (good AppSec practices and all that), but I like that Thundra has built in some additional tools to give you more peace of mind. Serkan ร–zal outlines a few of the recommended approaches and then highlights the added features of Thundra.

21 Best Practices for AWS Cloud Security
Establishing good security practices should be table stakes for anyone building applications in the cloud. There is some good advice in here, even though not all applicable to serverless.

Serverless Reads ๐Ÿค“

Register for the first-ever, completely free AWS Serverless-First Function
The AWS Serverless-First Function is a set of two free-of-charge virtual events that offer the latest education and thought leadership material about serverless approaches on AWS. Happening on Thursday, May 21 and Thursday, May 28, the event agenda includes sessions with AWS leaders like VP of Serverless, David Richardson, VP of Cloud Architecture Strategy, Adrian Cockcroft, customer speakers like Workgrid Software Head of Cloud Engineering, Gillian McCann, and an introduction by Amazon CTO, Dr. Werner Vogels. Sponsored

Serverless Exists In The Cloud and Both Need Servers
You know I love to share stories that are critical of serverless, because it’s important to get as much perspective as possible. And while there are several things I don’t agree with in this article (like the inaccurate definition of serverless), us advocates need to remember that perception is reality, and articles like this feed the narrative. One thing I do agree with is the challenges around understanding costs in an on-demand world.

3 Guiding Principles for Building New SaaS Products on AWS
I really liked this piece by Jared, because I think it extends well beyond just building SaaS products. One of the most important points in here is about documentation, because even though we want to move quickly, poorly documented applications make everything harder, including onboarding new developers to grow your application.

Multi-Source Processing v2.0
As of this writing, this post only had 1 clap on Medium, but it is a brilliant piece by James Gimourginas where he reimagines his architectural decisions from 10 years ago and provides an updated solution using modern cloud and serverless services. It’s a long read, but it’s incredibly insightful to see just how far we’ve come in the last decade.

Talking Serverless with Nader Dabit
Ryan Jones recently interviewed Nader Dabit on the Talking Serverless Podcast. It’s always great getting insights from Nader, so I think you’ll find some good takeaways in this summary of their discussion.

Cloud-Native Development Survey Details Kubernetes, Serverless Data
If you ask a developer what their favorite flavor of Kool-Aid is, you’ll likely get “Kubernetes” as the answer. I think we’re going to be seeing a hybrid approach for many, many years to come.

Future of backend development
I thought this piece was an interesting read, as well as the discussion that follows. The move to serverless (and microservices, to a similar extent) seems obvious to me. I can certainly understand the hesitance from others, but I also think the term “laggards” will be true for these people in every sense of the word. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ Just one man’s humble opinion.

Serverless Podcasts… ๐ŸŽง

Serverless Chats – Episode #48: Serverless Developer Culture with Linda Nichols
In this episode, I chat with Linda Nichols about why modern cloud developers should be writing less code, how new deployment processes affect the testing culture, why Ops teams are still really important, and much more. Watch on YouTube!

Real World Serverless – Ep. #10: Serverless at DAZN with Daniel Wright and Sara Gerion
Yan Cui speaks with Daniel Wright and Sara Gerion about the state of Serverless adoption at DAZN, how they use serverless in a high-scale, high-uptime environment, and how they mix serverless and containers in a hybrid environment.

New from AWS ๐Ÿ†•

Control your email flows in Amazon WorkMail using AWS Lambda
Amazon WorkMail announced that you can now control email flow of your organization using AWS Lambda functions when using Email Flow Rules. With this, you can build powerful email flow control system with completely customizable conditions.

Amazon CloudWatch Logs Insights now allows you to save queries
Amazon CloudWatch is introducing Saved Queries, a new feature that makes it easier for CloudWatch Logs Insights users to save queries. They can organize these queries in folders and easily run them again for different purposes by team, application, or runbook.

Introducing the new AWS SaaS Competency
The AWS SaaS Competency was created to support AWS customers looking for APN Consulting Partners with deep specialization and expertise in designing and building Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions on AWS.

AWS announces Amazon Elasticsearch Service UltraWarm general availability
Amazon Elasticsearch Service UltraWarm is now generally available. UltraWarm is a performance-optimized warm storage tier that lets you store and interactively analyze your data using Elasticsearch and Kibana while reducing your cost per GB by up to 90% over hot storage options. Read more here.

AWS Step Functions now supports AWS CodeBuild service integration
AWS Step Functions is now integrated with AWS CodeBuild, making it faster to build continuous integration workflows for your applications. Read more here.

Amazon Kendra is now generally available
Amazon Kendra is now generally available to all AWS customers. It provides customers with a highly accurate and easy to use enterprise search service powered by machine learning. Read more here.

Serverless Tools ๐Ÿ› 

How to succeed with Serverless? Automate best practices.
I really like the direction that Ben Ellerby and his team are taking the sls-dev-tools library. I totally agree that education is one of the biggest blockers to serverless adoption. This new Guardian tool is opinionated, but that’s not always a bad thing, especially if people don’t have enough experience to form their own opinions just yet.

Upcoming Serverless Events ๐Ÿ—“

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.

April 2-May 31, 2020 – Sessions with SAM: Live Twitch sessions by Eric Johnson (every Thursday at 10AM PDT)

May 13, 2020 – Full stack development with AWS Amplify (Cloud and Serverless Turkey)

May 13, 2020 – AWS Summit Online 2020: Empowering Tech Startups To Scale Sustainably

May 14, 2020 – Virtual Meetup: Serverless Fail Day! ๐Ÿ—ฃ

May 16, 2020 – Patterns and Practices for Building Resilient AWS Serverless Applications

May 20, 2020 – Designing for DynamoDB Success (webinar)

May 21 & 28, 2020 – Serverless-First Function by AWS

May 27, 2020 – Serverless London May Meetup (Virtual)

Serverless Star of the Week โญ๏ธ

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 weekโ€™s star is Jennifer Davis (@sigje). Jennifer is a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, but has held previous roles with Chef and Yahoo, among others. Jennifer has spoken about the โ€œOps in Serverlessโ€ at SRECon, Velocity Conf San Jose, and Serverless Week last summer. Sheโ€™s also spoken at ServerlessDays London, and joined Microsoft Ignite in Toronto and London. Jennifer also organized AWS Community Day in Silicon Valley, as well as Serverless Days Seattle. Thanks, Jennifer, for taking serverless across the globe with you! ๐Ÿ™Œ

Final Thoughts ๐Ÿค”

I hope you’ve all made it safely through another week. It looks like a lot of places are starting to relax the #StayAtHome orders, so just be sure to stay safe out there. I know I really need a haircut, but it’s certainly not worth risking anyone’s life over (even though it’s getting really long and out of control ๐Ÿ’‡โ€โ™‚๏ธ).

If you’re still looking for things to keep you busy, you can do like my daughters and put on a Serverless Fashion Show. Or maybe check out the latest release of DynamoDB Toolbox. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 youโ€™d like to contribute to Off-by-none.

See you next week,

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Issue #88May 5, 2020

Next Issue

Issue #90May 19, 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 โ€œserver-fullโ€ 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 โญ๏ธ!