Cloud Native Software Engineering Newsletter #18 (November 2020)

Hello my cloud engineering friends and welcome back!

It’s time for this months cloud software engineering newsletter, rounding up everything that’s being going on in cloud engineering for the last month.

I started writing this newsletter back in November, but SO many announcements have come out from AWS since then, that I really need to get this sent out to you. As each day goes by, new things come out, and the newsletter will never get sent.

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And since there’s quite a lot going on, let’s get into it.

Personal Updates 🙍🏼‍♂️

Big things have been happening with the website. I think I mentioned in a past newsletter how I’m part of a program called Project 24, which is a program designed to help website owners (like me!) grow their websites.

Doing this whole website building thing on your own can be tough, so it’s good to have a community of support from people doing similar things. In other news, I’m going to update the site home page soon, and there’s a thread on Twitter with the draft designs if you want to see.

I’ve also revitalised the old social media accounts for the site, and I’m already publishing on those much accounts much more frequently. I’d love for you to join me and chat either on Twitter, or Instagram.

Anyway, that’s enough of what I’ve been up to, let’s get into this weeks newsletter and take a look at everything that’s been happening in the world of cloud!

Feature Releases & Announcements 📚

What’s new in cloud right now.

Jeff Barr’s Liveblog Of Andy Jassy’s Keynote — So, on Tuesday was the official first keynote of AWS re:Invent. If you missed the updates live, Jeff Barr did live tweet the affair, so you can find the full updates on the AWS news site. It’s quite a nice way to re-cap the announcements if you missed them.

AWS Lambda Has Container Support — Funnily enough, a couple weeks ago, I was asking why AWS Lambda didn’t have container support?. What ensued was a pretty interesting conversation about why AWS Lambda doesn’t support containers, which could be summarised as: if you don’t control the underlying VM, you have less concern on things like patching and updating, which is more “Serverless”. However, it seems AWS have changed their mind, and now started adopting containers for AWS Lambda, but even the head of product for AWS Lambda has come out to mention that Lambda containers should be used with caution.

AWS Lambda Per Millisecond Billing — This feature announcement got leaked early somewhere, leading to lots of speculation of the announcement being in the keynote, so it was. AWS Lambda has always billed in 100ms increments, however for fast running lambda functions that run under or around 100ms, this means that you could be paying extra for function time since it’s rounded up. I’m curious to see different analysis and reports come out over time about any cost savings from this feature release, AWS Lambda is already incredibly cheap, so the cost savings will come for the biggest users.

Strong consistency in S3 — S3 is now strongly consistent. That means all reading after writes will be guaranteed to be up to date with the last write. This is a small update in terms of complexity (from a user perspective!) but should be very useful to a lot of different people. And to be honest, for most S3 customers, this is a better experience to not have to deal with the eventual consistency.

AWS Proton — AWS Proton is a new AWS service that helps to simplify the deployment of applications (this ones a bit hard to explain, it seems the AWS Heroes agree, too). It seems to kind of be an abstraction on CloudFormation that allows you to enter fields / arguments into a template, and get a templated deployment. However, it seems some people aren’t so impressed with the initial release, such as AWS Hero, Ant Stanley. But, the service does seem quite cool on the surface, so it might just take a few more rounds of iteration before it matures.

AWS Budget Actions — This month AWS introduced a feature called budget actions last month, which allow you take different actions within AWS when your budget meets a certain threshold. It’s nice to see AWS continuing to invest in cost saving features, as the lack of cost controls has been one of the big critique of AWS over the years.

EKS Distro — This one is an interesting announcement. Basically AWS is admitting that they need to expand the EKS offering for it to be successful, so they’re allowing people to run it on their own infrastructure, so that they can connect their different cloud services with their own infrastructure.

CloudWatch Metrics Explorer — Also, CloudWatch introduced the metrics explorer, a new dashboard to explore CloudWatch metrics through their tags. The feature looks pretty interesting, but I’m not sure that it’s really a game-changer, though, more of an optimisation to the CloudWatch discoverability.

CloudFormation Now Has Modules — For a long time, other infrastructure-as-code tools had modules, which allow you to group together resources into a single bundle, now after quite some time, CloudFormation finally supports modules.

AWS Copilot goes GA — I totally missed this one when it originally came out. Co-pilot is a CLI to help you deploy ECS containers more easily. Looks kinda interesting, almost serverless-framework-ish for container-based applications. Seems useful if you want an easy way to spin up a container based API, for instance.

Amazon EC2 Mac Instances — Another announcement that has a lot of people excited, is that AWS now support Mac instances, which can be used for things like build farms. There’s quite a few limitations to them, such as them having to be launched on dedicated hosts, which means at the minimum, you’re paying $26 dollars to spin one up. But these instances should unlock some interesting use cases for a lot of companies.

How-To’s & Educational Pieces ✏️

Good articles on how to do cloud stuff.

How Do You Stop An AWS Lambda — So this article is one of mine, I saw lots of interest on this topic on Google, so decided to write it up. In all honesty, I’m not sure why this one is such a hot topic. In the few weeks from publishing, it’s already number 1 on google and it’s ranking in my top few posts… kinda odd to me, but take a look if it’s something that you’ve been curious about!

How do you debug AWS Lambda? — Another one from yours truly. Debugging AWS Lambda can be tricky at times, in this article I run you through the different approaches you can take for debugging a Lambda function. It’s quite a lengthy article and covers some decent ground on the topic, so take a look into it if you need some inspiration for debugging your functions.

How Many Certs Do I Need For A Cloud Job? — In this article, Forrest Brazeal shares insight and tips about how to use cloud certificates as part of a broader strategy for getting hired. There’s some useful points in the article about how the importance of gaining practical experience in order to help your job search.

Opinion Pieces / Miscellaneous 💭

Cloud commentary and spicy takes!

O11ycast — I don’t know how I missed the boat on this one (as a Charity Majors fangirl) but seems that Charity Majors has been running a podcast, and I just didn’t know about it. Finding out about it now, and I’ve been giving it a listen, I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out.

Serverless @ Re:Invent (Video) — This was one of the first sessions for Serverless @ Re:Invent where the AWS Lambda team went through some different Serverless features that have been announced this year, and this video dives into AWS Lambda Extensions.

Moving BBC Online To The Cloud — An in-depth article from the BBC about their migration from an on-site PHP application to a cloud-based service, and the steps and considerations that they took along the way.

The Ultimate Guide To Re:Invent 2020 — Mark Nunnikhoven did a neat write up about how to get the most out of re:Invent, his article is published on the ACloudGuru blog which talks you through re:Invent 2020, what to expect, and what to watch, etc. Check it out for some tips for how to make the most out of re:Invent.

Outages / Breaches 💭

What went down or got hacked?

AWS Outage — I mean, I probably don’t need to tell you about this one, you probably heard the screams alreay from your friends, Twitter, and what not. But in case you didn’t hear… a couple days ago AWS had a pretty big outage. Some interesting things to come out of this outage is the single-points-of-failure that exist within AWS when they’re relying on their own services so much. AWS have now released their write-up of the incident.

Why Are You Interested In Cloud? 🤓

Something brought you to this newsletter. In order to keep improving both the newsletter and the website, knowing a little more about you and your goals helps out. If you got any value out of my work, and you could spare just a few moments to take the The Cloud Native Software Engineering Survey you’d be doing me a HUGE favour. If not now, maybe next time?

That’s All Folks 🎉 🥳 🤓

And that’s all for this months newsletter, thanks for tuning in!

Speak soon Cloud Native friends!

Lou Bichard