A Weekly Newsletter By Jeremy Daly

Off-by-none: Issue #93

June 9, 2020

The new Serverless LAMP Stack… 💡

Welcome to Issue #93 of Off-by-none. Thanks for joining us!

Last week, we met new serverless heroes, Step Functions got some attention, and GCP jumped on the Java train. This week, we get a new headless (and serverless) CMS, we learn why LAMP is nixing Linux and Apache, and ask the age old question, “Do you really need Kubernetes?” Plus, we have some awesome posts from the serverless community.

Serverless News & Announcements 📣

Webinar: How to Use Knative to Build Event-Driven Application Flows
Join Sebastien Goasguen, TriggerMesh co-founder, Kubeless creator, and author of the Kubernetes Cookbook for a live webinar on June 11. Sebastien will demo how the Knative API and TriggerMesh let you trigger functions on any cloud with a single mechanism and cap your EventBridge costs. Learn more and register here. Sponsored

Launching Serverless Headless CMS by Webiny
I’ve been waiting for this to come out for awhile, and now Sven Al Hamad and his team at Webiny have finally released the first, completely serverless, headless CMS. Very cool stuff.

Serverless Azure Functions V2 – Linux, Python & .NET Core Support
The official v2 release of the Serverless Azure Functions plugin for the Serverless Framework is here. This version includes some new features that’ll simplify your development experience and enable you to do more with Azure Functions.

Introducing Swift AWS Lambda Runtime
This is quite interesting for all you Swift developers out there. Now you can extend your skills to the cloud with the new Swift AWS Lambda Runtime.

KNIX
Nokia Bell Labs have released a new serverless platform that runs on Knative, virtual machines, or bare metal and is compatible with AWS Lambda and Step Functions. I haven’t had a chance to dig in to this yet, but it looks really interesting.

Serverless Stories 📖

My First Foray into Serverless with AWS
I like reading articles that recount the thought process and challenges faced when building a serverless application. I think articles like this are important for product managers to understand where the rough edges are, and find better ways to bring more people into the fold.

Event Driven Architectures With EventBridge
Gavin Cornwell has a short follow up to his previous article about using Step Functions to automate customer trials. He highlights some of the main benefits of using event-driven architectures and explains the success he’s had with this approach and the flexibility it provides his team.

How we helped Norway’s number one travel curator boost its sales by 60% with AWS
There are a lot of stories like this out there, and if you have one, please share it with me. Serverless is enabling lots of development companies to build high-value solutions much faster. Plus, the overhead of maintaining them is significantly lower as well.

Poor AWS Architectural choices
Brian Foody says he made a bad choice when choosing Sydney as the central region for his global serverless infrastructure. But thanks to serverless and IaC, it was a simple fix.

Serverless Use Cases 🗺

Programmatically Schedule Tasks using AWS CloudWatch and Lambdas Serverless
Here’s an article by Omair Nabiel that shows you how to implement a serverless crontab (one of the most useful serverless use cases, even if the rest of your stack isn’t serverless), using the AWS SDK.

Why Serverless Architecture Will Be The Future Of Business Computing?
Here’s a good article by Adem Zeina that gives a good overview of serverless, the main platforms, and the types of use case for it. I’m not sure it answers why it will be the future of business computing, but it’s easy enough to infer.

Serverless Concepts 🏗

Introducing the new Serverless LAMP stack
I don’t use PHP anymore, but when I switched from PERL/CGI in the late 90s to the LAMP stack, it became my default until the early 2010s, and it served me very well. Most of the web was built on PHP, and it still remains incredibly popular. But now, PHP developers no longer need to worry as much about the underlying infrastructure, the just need to replace the “LA” in LAMP with “Lambda” and “API Gateway”.

Cloudflare Workers Introduction
Kay Plößer, along with his sweet mohawk, wrote a really helpful intro to Cloudflare Workers, including how they’re different than Lambda, what you can use them for, and even provided a sample application.

Going serverless with PHP
Another post that talks about the current state of PHP in serverless as well as the authors perceived pros and cons of a serverless approach.

Cost-Efficient Ways to Run DynamoDB Tables
Renato Byrro gives you some options for cutting costs with DynamoDB if your On-Demand workloads start to get expensive (like 7x more expensive than provisioned). I’m a big fan of the load leveling with a queue approach, for multiple reasons.

The Ultimate Guide to Serverless Monitoring Platforms
This is a helpful chart from the team at Dashbird that compares the most popular serverless observability tools. It is well done, and objective, and I love the spirit behind this line, “They are all amazing services with outstanding teams behind them and we’re proud to be in this market alongside them.”

Serverless Tutorials 👷‍♀️

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

AWS CDK: DevOps for developers
Sachin Gill gives you an introduction into the AWS CDK along with an example to deploy a sample applications.

Set Up Your Serverless Project With TypeScript, Ready to Deploy to AWS
Sébastien Poyer has an excellent tutorial that walks you through a boilerplate set up for a serverless project with TypeScript. This includes everything you need for webpack configs, linting, AWS credential setup, and deployment.

Consider DynamoDB for your next project
Filipe Pinheiro has an excellent post that shows you how to model a simple application using a single DynamoDB table. Lots of good strategies in here and some good explanations that will help beginners and advanced users alike.

Hacker News with Serverless Stack
This is a good tutorial (and savvy marketing) that shows you how to build a Hacker News clone using AWS API Gateway and Lambda with Lambda.Store as the database.

How To Create An AWS SQS Queue With Serverless
Quick and simple tutorial by Phil Andrews. He has some other posts like this as well, which assumes basic knowledge of a topic and just gets right to the point. I like that style and I hope he does more of them.

Serverless Security 🔒

Security Best Practices for Serverless Applications on AWS
Anthony DiMarco has some recommendations for securing your serverless applications within the AWS ecosystem. The advice in here is straightforward and practical, and will help you add another layer of protection to an already highly secure environment.

12 Biggest Cloud Threats And Vulnerabilities In 2020
This article makes a few good points, but the one I’ve been thinking about more lately is how willingly people are copying templates from others without taking the time to understand exactly what they do. Cloudformation and other DSLs can get complex very quickly, and perhaps cloud providers need to address the need for all these shortcuts in the first place.

Serverless Reads 🤓

Do you really need Kubernetes?
I’ve got nothing against Kubernetes (okay, maybe a little), but Emrah Samdam does a great job of explaining the differences between Kubernetes and alternative approaches for a couple of popular use cases. In the end, Kubernetes might be the right choice for your organization, but it’s worth examining that choice before you commit to the endeavor.

3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Going Serverless
Dmytro Khmelenko had a short, but very popular article that calls out the three most fundamental serverless services in the AWS arsenal that satisfy a lot of use cases.

Blockchain is the Ultimate Serverless Platform
Interesting thought process by Michael Juntao Yuan here. I would agree that distributed computing through blockchains could be useful, but Ethereum is painfully slow and the complexity of those “functions” is very minimal. Perhaps the improvements with WebAssembly might make a difference, but until the performance comes anywhere close to FaaS, blockchain will likely not be part of the conversation.

Debiasing your software architecture decisions
This is an interesting topic covered by Paul Swail. I often find myself defaulting to technical choices that I perceive as “easy” because that is the way I’m comfortable with doing them, even if a small bit of learning would help me understand potentially better ways to achieve something. I’ve been investing a lot of time in learning lately, and it can actually be refreshing to realize how much you don’t know.

For the commuter… 🚎

Episode #52: The Past, Present, and Future of Serverless with Tim Wagner
In this episode, I chat with Tim Wagner about the history behind AWS Lambda, why the stateless versus stateful debate rages on, how to use serverless as a supercomputer, what innovations are still needed, and so much more. Watch on YouTube.

Code examples from sessions at AWS re:invent 2019
Tim Packwood compiled a list of some AWS re:Invent sessions (remember in-person conferences?) along with links to their accompanying code samples. There are a few good serverless ones in here.

New from AWS 🆕

Announcing Cross-Cluster Search support for Amazon Elasticsearch Service
While I’d still like to see a serverless alternative, this is a pretty cool feature. If you have multiple ES clusters because you’re managing different workloads (like search index versus analytics), now you can keep these clusters separate, but search across them and aggregate the results.

Amazon Redshift now supports writing to external tables in Amazon S3
Lots of workloads are running on Redshift, so being able to export (and append to) external tables is a powerful feature for integrating more serverless tools like Athena on top of it.

CloudWatch Application Insights now supports MySQL, Amazon DynamoDB, custom logs, and more
Now you can configure monitors for DynamoDB on CloudWatch and detect common errors such as slow queries, transaction conflicts, and replication latency.

Real-time anomaly detection support in Amazon Elasticsearch Service
Amazon Elasticsearch Service now offers anomaly detection, which uses machine learning to detect anomalies on real-time streaming data and identifies issues as they evolve so you can mitigate them immediately. Interesting.

Tighten S3 permissions for your IAM users and roles using access history of S3 actions
This is a nice new feature: “This granular access information helps you analyze access, identify unused S3 actions, and remove them confidently.”

Serverless Tools 🛠

s3-selectable – S3 Select over a Glue Table
Here’s an interesting tool if you need to use S3 select over Glue tables that can point to hundreds of different S3 Objects in separate Hive Partitions and Hive Buckets. Very cool stuff.

Thoughts from Twitter 🐦

Deno moving internals away from TypeScript is an interesting read. Internal advocates finding Ry isn’t convinced by the marketing lines in actual practice. ~ Brian Leroux
Great thread by Brian Leroux here that talks about the issues Deno is having with implementing TypeScript natively. There seems to be lots of problems that might just not be worth the effort.

Serverless Jobs 👩‍💻 Sponsored

Serverless Engineer – stedi.com
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.

June 10, 2020 – Nordic Serverless – Serverless Developer Experience

June 10 & 11, 2020 – AWS Virtual Amplify Days

June 11, 2020 – How to Use Knative to Build Event-Driven Application Flows

June 26, 2020 – AWS Serverless Community Day

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 Zamira Jaupaj (@zamirajaupaj). Zamira is a Solution Architect at Mobiquity, leading the cloud platform team, as well as guiding customers on their journey to the cloud with enterprise solutions, and helping them modernize their infrastructure, applications, and processes. She’s a recent AWS Community Hero, the founder of AWS Meetup Albania and co-organizer of AWS Meetup Netherlands. She also regularly speaks at technical conferences and authors tech blogs, sharing best practices about serverless, containers and AWS. Thank you Zamira for being a part of our community! 🙌

Final Thoughts 🤔

Several weeks ago, I started dedicating time each week to learning new, or deepening my understanding of, tools and concepts in the web and cloud development space. The events of the last two weeks have dramatically changed my syllabus, and I (like hopefully most of us) have been spending a lot of time educating myself on topics of racial injustice, policing policies, and the systemic problems that face the United States.

I’ve always tried to be ally, and whenever I witnessed discrimination (especially against women) in the workplace, I stood up to use whatever privilege I had to “help” the person affected. But I realized that I can’t just be an ally that steps in when injustice is right in my face. I need to be an advocate. I need to use whatever platform I have to not only talk about needed change, but to actually affect it.

We can all help by donating to the cause. That’s a good first step, but it’s only a first step, and more needs to be done. I’m working with some others to figure out ways to better serve a more diverse audience and to help create a welcoming and inclusive culture within the serverless and tech communities. Additional ideas and feedback are invited and appreciated, so please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email.

Cheers,
Jeremy

P.S. If you like this newsletter, and think others would too, please do me the honor of sharing it with friends and coworkers who are interested in serverless.

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Off-by-none is a weekly email newsletter that focuses on the technical details of building applications and products in the cloud using serverless technology. Together we can become better developers and product people by making fewer mistakes as we learn from each other. Off-by-none is the idea that we can become exceptional at what we do, if we are willing to put in the work. Join me on this journey as we help the community work to develop best practices, share our ideas, and learn to build better cloud-based software.

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