My name is Jeremy Daly. I appreciate the visit. 👍 I’ve been managing the development of complex web and mobile applications for businesses across the globe for over 20 years. I’m currently an independent consultant and keep myself busy with several side projects and consulting clients. I’m also an AWS Serverless Hero.
Also, if you’re interested in serverless, please subscribe to Off-by-none, a weekly newsletter that focuses on all things serverless, and be sure to listen to Serverless Chats, a weekly podcast that discusses all things serverless.
I took a new job as the GM of Serverless Cloud at Serverless, Inc. I’m really excited about what I’m working on there, and here’s why…
When I first discovered AWS Lambda six years ago, I became fascinated with serverless, or rather, I became fascinated with the potential of serverless. Having spent an inordinate amount of time during the first 15 years of my career racking, configuring, patching, maintaining, and (poorly) scaling servers, the notion of abstracting all of that away seemed too good to be true. I had already been using AWS for five years at that point, so even though the cloud had eliminated the need for physical hardware, all the complexity around building high-scale, highly-available, highly-distributed applications was still there. For me, serverless was the way to solve that problem. So I went all in.
If you read the post, you’ll see that I was excited and optimistic, even though there were a lot of missing features. And after several months of more experiments, I finally moved some production workloads onto it, and had quite a bit of success. Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen some improvements to the product (including support for PostgreSQL and the Data API), but there were still loads of problems with the scale up/down speeds, failover time, and lack of Aurora provisioned cluster features.
That all changed with the introduction of Amazon Aurora Serverless v2. I finally got access to the preview and spent a few hours trying to break it. My first impression? This thing might just be a silver bullet!
I know that’s a bold statement. 😉 But even though I’ve only been using it for a few hours, I’ve also read through the (minimal) docs, reviewed the pricing, and talked to one of the PMs to understand it the best I could. There clearly must be some caveats, but from what I’ve seen, Aurora Serverless v2 is very, very promising. Let’s take a closer look!
Update December 9, 2020: I’ve updated the post with some more information after having watched the “Amazon Aurora Serverless v2: Instant scaling for demanding workloads” presentation by Murali Brahmadesam (Director of Engineering, Aurora Databases and Storage) and Chayan Biswas (Principle Product Manager, Amazon Aurora). The new images are courtesy of their presentation.
It’s AWS re:Invent time, and once again, developers, architects, business leaders, and everyone in between are faced with the daunting task of selecting from thousands of hours of re:Invent content. As usual, I will be focusing most of my time on serverless, so I’ve combed through the massive session catalog and picked out the ones that look the most interesting to me. If you’re looking to focus on serverless during this re:Invent, perhaps you’ll find my suggestions useful.
My picks are also available on the Cloud Pegboard re:Invent Tool (Thanks, Ken). Select “Jeremy Daly” from the “AWS Hero Picks” dropdown and you’ll see all my selections with the options to add them to your wishlist and export them to your calendar. I have about 60 sessions on my list, which I’ve categorized below. But I realize that no human is likely going to be able to watch them all, so I’ve also made a list of Sessions you can’t miss!
There are sure to be plenty of announcements throughout the three weeks of re:Invent, so be sure to subscribe to the Off-by-none newsletter for weekly recaps.
Learning a new paradigm can be really difficult, especially something as revolutionary (and different) as serverless. Thanks to a little inspiration from fellow AWS Serverless Hero, Forrest Brazeal, I created this Hamilton parody to help teach people what serverless is all about and why it’s such an amazing way to build applications. Hopefully it inspires you as well. Enjoy!
Serverless gives us the power to focus on delivering value to our customers without worrying about the maintenance and operations of the underlying compute resources. Cloud providers (like AWS), also give us a huge number of managed services that we can stitch together to create incredibly powerful, and massively scalable serverless microservices.
Almost 2 years ago now, I wrote a post on Serverless Microservice Patterns for AWS that became a popular reference for newbies and serverless veterans alike. The capabilities of serverless have changed dramatically since then, opening up a ton of new patterns and possibilities. Today I’m announcing the Serverless Reference Architectures Project. This project is intended to capture, share, explore, and debate the patterns and practices being used in serverless production applications today.
Recently, Symphonia co-founders Mike Roberts and John Chapin wrote a book called Programming AWS Lambda: Build and Deploy Serverless Applications with Java. I personally abandoned Java long ago, but I knew full well that anything written by Mike and John was sure to be great. So despite the title (and my past war stories of working with Java), I picked up the book and gave it a read. I discovered that it’s not really a book about Java, but a book about building serverless applications with the examples in Java. Sure, there are a few very Java specific things (which every Java developer probably needs to read), but overall, this book offers some great insight into serverless from two experts in the field.
I had the chance to catch up with Mike on a recent episode of Serverless Chats. We discussed the book, how John and Mike got started with serverless (by building Java Lambda functions, of course), and what are some of the best practices people need to think about when building serverless applications. It was a great conversation (which you can watch/listen to here), but it was also jam packed with information, so I thought I’d highlight some of the important takeaways.
For quite some time, there was a running joke that “serverless” was just for converting images to thumbnails. That’s still a great use case for serverless, of course, but since AWS released Lambda in 2014, serverless has definitely come a long way. Even still, newcomers to the space often don’t realize just how many use cases there are for serverless. I spoke with Gareth McCumskey, a Solutions Architect at Serverless Inc, on a recent two part episode (part 1 and part 2) of Serverless Chats, and we discussed nine very applicable use cases that I thought I’d share with you here.
Fellow serverless advocate, and AWS Data Hero, Alex DeBrie, recently released The DynamoDB Book, which ventures way beyond the basics of DynamoDB, but still offers an approachable and useful resource for developers of any experience level. I had the opportunity to read the book and then speak with Alex about it on Serverless Chats. We discussed several really important lessons from the book that every DynamoDB practitioner needs to know. Here are twelve of my favorites, in no particular order.
The Storage First Pattern allows you to reliably capture data from incoming API requests without needing a Lambda function to parse, process, transform and save the data. Under the right circumstances, this pattern can reduce latency, save money, and minimize bugs.
Interactive Reference Architecture
Click on the components or numbered steps below to explore how this architecture works.
The Storage First pattern is useful when your application doesn’t require a lot of data transformation on incoming API requests. Rather than attaching API Gateway to a Lambda function that has to parse, process, transform, and save data, we can bypass the Lambda function by using a “service integration” that will send the data directly to an AWS service, like SQS. This reduces the latency of our API calls, saves money by removing the need to run a processing Lambda function, and makes our application more reliable because we are not introducing additional code.
In our example above, we’re using an SQS queue and then processing data off of that using a Lambda function subscription. There are plenty of other services that can be written to directly including DynamoDB, Kinesis, and EventBridge. To the best of my knowledge, Eric Johnson from AWS coined the term “Storage First” to indicate that we want to ensure that we save a user’s raw data before we attempt to run any processing on it. That way, if downstream services or processing fails, we always have a copy of the original request. He explains the process in his post Building a serverless URL shortener app without AWS Lambda.
The incoming data can be transformed and verified using VTL templates, but the more complexity you introduce, the more likely you are to create issues with edge cases. This is an incredibly useful pattern for high velocity workloads like webhooks and clickstream data because it provides low latency and high reliability. Additional processing can be done asynchronously, allowing you to add resiliency to your application if downstream systems are unavailable.
Deploy this Pattern
Below are the basic configurations for deploying this pattern using different frameworks and platforms. Additional configuration for your environment will be necessary. The source files and additional examples are available in the GitHub repo.