Off-by-none: Issue #96

June 30, 2020

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Serverless, distributed, and vendor neutral applications… 🚀

Welcome to Issue #96 of Off-by-none. Thanks for being here!

Last week, we saw how EFS integration makes serverless even better, got a lesson in why serverless is for everyone, and looked at the internals of DynamoDB. This week, we learn how serverless applications can be truly vendor neutral, see how EFS finally makes serverless ML a reality, and we get a master class in building serverless applications for the experts at AWS. Plus, we have a plenty of great content from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

Check out the TriggerMesh guide “What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless” for feature comparisons of major offerings and an introduction to basic concepts like cloud native and microservices. Use it to inform your peers / managers on serverless benefits and available options. Sponsored

Introducing Vendia Share
When Tim Wagner launches something new, it’s probably best that we all pay attention. His new project, Vendia, is now in preview and it looks like it could solve a lot of problems for a lot of people.

Announcing Redis as a Code! Lambda Store Terraform Provider
You can now create your serverless Redis using Terraform. IaC is a must have, so it’s good to see them moving in that direction.

State of Serverless 2020
Coding Sans is running a State of Serverless 2020 survey. It only takes about 8 minutes to fill out, so give it a look when you get a chance.

Fastly, Inc. (FSLY) announces extension of its platform’s observability features to its Compute@Edge serverless compute environment
Like I said last week… pay attention to Fastly. Lots of really cool stuff happening there.

Serverless Stories 📖

Building Firewatch Australia
Mike Leonard has a great series on how he built a serverless app using Cloudflare and GCP to help others navigate the Australian bushfires.

How Liberty Mutual’s Cloud Journey Led to Going Serverless
Great piece with Dave Anderson discussing how and why Liberty Mutual decided to move towards serverless. My favorite line in here is “Code is a liability. The less code we write the better.” Totally agree.

The Ultimate AWS Gotcha to watch out for when launching a product
Brian Foody spent some time trying to figure out why 2FA verification codes were no longer being sent to his users. After some digging, he figured out the problem had to do with AWS service availability based on regions. He offers some good learnings at the end, especially the bit about not feeling bad if you don’t understand all of AWS. I don’t think anyone does.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

Why use AWS Lambda for Data Science?
Dave Parr explains why Data Science and AWS Lambda work well together, and even gives you a quick tutorial for building a “hello world” data science function.

Who Said That: A tweet guess game implemented with serverless stack on Netlify
No one ever said serverless use cases had to be boring, and as Sven Anderson shows us with his “Who Said That” game, serverless likely makes for a great tool for little one-offs like this. If your game goes viral, I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to scale that with EC2 instances.

AWS Automation: Narrowing security group rules
Ed Reinoso is using Lambda to automate closing all potential threatening rules that might jeopardize the security of his EC2 instances. And you can too.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Automated end-to-end observability for microservice environments
Epsagon enables full-depth observability of complex serverless and containerized architectures, delivering the automation needed to instantly identify, troubleshoot, and resolve issues before they affect production. Try free today. Sponsored

Managing backend requests and frontend notifications in serverless web apps
Another excellent post by James Beswick and an absolute MUST READ for anyone building applications with serverless backends. He walks you through moving from the common synchronous model to a much more resilient asynchronous one, and includes real-time communication just for good measure.

Can Lambda and RDS Play Nicely Together?
Serkan Özal explains possible problems that can occur when using RDS with Lambda, and offers some solutions and alternatives.

Lambda Cold Starts, why I don’t see the problem
Gert Leenders has some thoughts on cold starts and points out that it’s possible that Lambda might not be the solution to your problem.

Enterprise Serverless 🚀 (Series)
Lee James Gilmore put together an excellent series on Enterprise Serverless that covers tooling, architecture, AWS limits & limitations, and more. Plus there’s an awesome list of useful resources. 😉

6 Tips for Deploying AWS Serverless Node.js Applications to Production
Leroy Chan wrote an in depth article that offers a number of tips for building production-ready serverless applications along with a boilerplate template to get you going. I’m still 50/50 on the right use cases for Lambda Layers, but overall, I think this is a good set of tips.

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

Interactive Slack bot using AWS Serverless
Simple walkthrough for setting up a Slack bot using AWS Lambda and API Gateway by Aswin Kumar Rajendran.

Automatic file splitting on S3 buckets at $0 cost
Cool trick by Dimitris Traskas that shows you how to use a Lambda function with a bash custom runtime to stream large files from S3, split them into smaller files, and push back to another S3 bucket.

Contact Forms with Netlify Serverless Functions
Building HTML forms is the worst, amiright? Luckily, services like Netlify have this functionality built in. Chris Held walks you through it.

How to Create Serverless Functions with OpenFaaS in 17 Steps
I like to sprinkle things in here for the k8s crowd every once in awhile, and I thought this was a good article to share. I’m not going through all these steps, but they are very well documented if you want to.

Building a Conversational AI Chatbot With AWS Lambda Function and Amazon EFS
EFS integration with AWS Lambda opened up quite a few new use cases, and Machine Learning is a big one. Yi Ai shows you how to use SageMaker exports to EFS to build a conversational chat bot with Lambda.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Automate code reviews and identify expensive lines of code with Amazon CodeGuru
Previously launched in Preview last re:Invent, Amazon CodeGuru is now generally available. CodeGuru uses machine learning to perform automated code reviews and recommend application optimizations. With CodeGuru, you can identify your most expensive lines of code and find and fix code issues such as resource leaks, potential concurrency race conditions, and wasted CPU cycles—faster and with less frustration. Sponsored

Using Microservice Patterns in an increasingly Serverless world
Craig Godden-Payne outlines three different patterns, ultimately landing on orchestration via Step Functions as a preferred solution. Step Functions certainly have their place, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the power and autonomy of an event-driven, asynchronous approach.

Serverless and the future of computing
Great write up by Erik Stadigh of the London Enterprise Tech Meetup. Lots of smart serverless people talking about what serverless means for companies and the cloud, and what it’s going to look like in the future.

Applying the Well-Architected Framework, Small Edition
Awesome post by Mark Nunnikhoven that explains why there are no silver bullets with cloud. Using the Well-Architected Framework to evaluate your project can help give you new perspective, which means you might actually choose the right tool for the job.

What problems does serverless solve?
Um, all of them? Slobodan Stojanović has a great piece that explains the value of serverless using Wardley Maps in the context of a small start up. Lots of insight in here in regards to what your startup should be spending their time on.

The three Fs of cloud pricing
Not particularly about serverless, but a worthwhile read nonetheless. I’ll be interested to see what David is working on that addresses some of these issues.

Podcasts, videos, and more… 🎧

Episode #55: Serverless PHP using Bref with Matthieu Napoli
In this episode, I chat with Matthieu Napoli about why PHP is still an important part of the web landscape, how Bref can help you make existing PHP workloads serverless, and whether or not PHP devs will embrace serverless design patterns. Watch on YouTube.

ICYMI: Serverless-First Function
Here are all the recordings and slides from the recent AWS Serverless-First Function event. Lots of great stuff in here!

The Cloudcast: Building a Next-Generation of Serverless
Tim Zonca talks about the next evolution of the serverless developer experience, the maturity of customer adoption, how much customers appreciate not having to manage infrastructure, and how to manage the journey to serverless.

Patterns and Practices for Building Resilient Serverless Applications
Excellent presentation by Yan Cui from a recent AWS Community Day that gives you a solid overview of how to build resilient serverless applications.

New from AWS 🆕

Find your most expensive lines of code and improve code quality with Amazon CodeGuru – now generally available
Amazon CodeGuru is a developer tool powered by machine learning that provides intelligent recommendations for improving code quality and identifying an applications’ most expensive lines of code. Read more.

Announcing Amazon Aurora Serverless with MySQL 5.7 compatibility
Amazon Aurora Serverless is now available with MySQL 5.7 compatibility. MySQL 5.7-compatible Aurora offers enhancements such as JSON support, spatial indexes, and generated columns, and is up to 5X faster than MySQL 5.7.

Amazon Rekognition Custom Labels now supports single object training
Amazon Rekognition Custom Labels is an automated machine learning (ML) feature that enables customers to quickly train their own custom models for detecting business-specific objects and scenes from images – no ML experience is required.

Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) adds sixteen additional Amazon CloudWatch metrics for monitoring MongoDB opcounters, connections, cursors, operations on documents and index cache hits
For all of you that can’t let go of MongoDB.

Amazon Athena adds support for Partition Projection
Amazon Athena has added support for Partition Projection, a new functionality that you can use to speed up query processing of highly partitioned tables and automate partition management.

User management and other improvements added to Serverless Developer Portal
You can now manage users of the Amazon API Gateway Serverless Developer Portal directly from the portal’s admin interface.

Announcing Amazon Honeycode
Amazon Honeycode, which is available in beta, is a fully managed service that allows customers to quickly build powerful mobile and web applications – with no programming required. There have been some opinions on this. Read more.

Amplify Console adds support for automatically creating and deleting custom sub-domains for every branch deployment
Another very cool feature from the Amplify Console team.

Serverless Tools 🛠

Run Serverless Deno With Vercel
I’m a big fan of Deno and Vercel, and now you can use the new vercel-deno runtime to make it super easy to deploy serverless functions implemented using Deno.

SAMBER, a Full-Stack developer’s dream come true
SAM + Ember.js? 🤷‍♂️

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer –
At Stedi, we’re working in one of the biggest markets on the planet – EDI, the technological backbone of the physical product economy. We’re building a next-generation platform: a ubiquitous commercial trading network to automate the trillions of dollars in B2B transactions exchanged by nearly every company on Earth. If you’re interested in what we’re building and how we’re building it, we’d love to hear from you.

Have a job listing you’d like to share? Please contact me for more information.

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.

July 6, 2020 – Serverless for Frontend Developers (Course)

October 1-2, 2020 – ServerlessDays Hamburg 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 Sander van de Graaf (@svdgraaf). Sander is a Principal Solutions Architect at Ookla, the global leader in internet testing, data and analysis. Sander also is the owner of 42Unicorns, acting as architect, developer and advisor for several clients. Though he has more than 15 years of experience with building and deploying large scale applications, his most recent focus and roles have been in serverless solutions. Sander has written many pieces about serverless on his personal website, and he’s also been a prolific speaker across the globe. He’s presented at Serverless Conf in New York, participated in serverless meetups in his home country, the Netherlands, and spoken at other events like Python Rotterdam, PyAmsterdam, and eqNation about serverless. Thank you, Sander, for being a part of this great community! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

I recently launched the Serverless Chats Insiders program that allows listeners to submit questions for upcoming guests. If you’re a podcast listener (or you just want to see who my future guests are), then make sure you sign up. In addition to that, I have a lot of stuff in the pipeline that I hope to share soon. Stay tuned.

I hope you enjoyed this newsletter. We’re always looking for ideas and feedback to make it better and more inclusive, so please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email.

Until next time,

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Issue #95June 23, 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 ⭐️!