Cloud Native Software Engineering Newsletter #19 (December re-cap 2020)

Hello! And welcome to the round-up for the things going on in the world of cloud for December of 2020. It was a busy month early on with AWS Re:Invent, but towards the end, with the holidays, things calmed down so we can finally digest the torrent of updates!

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Personal Updates 🙍🏼‍♂️

What’s happening with the website, and what I’m up to.

2020 was an interesting year for me and the website. It’s become a habit of mine to share my goals for the upcoming year. In this years article, I talked about growing the website to over 25,000 page views per month, earning some revenue from the site, and I posed shared updates on the newsletter and how it’s changed over time, check it out: 2020 Summary: Traffic Growth, The Websites First Income & The Plans For 2021! and thank you for being a part of it!

I’ve more recently been chatting a lot on Twitter, and really enjoying it, I’d love for you to follow along — I’ll be talking about everything cloud in between the newsletters.

And on with the newsletter!

This Month’s Top Cloud Pick(s) ⏫

If you only read one or two things this month, let it be this.

AWS 2020 Top Announcements ✏️— AWS wrote up their top announcements from Re:Invent in this meta announcement post, which runs you through all the main things which were announced at Re:Invent in 2020. If you missed out on a lot of the updates, read just this one post, and it should catch you up mostly.

Feature Releases & Announcements 📚

New stuff in the cloud, that you probably should know about.

✏️ Werner Vogels Keynote AWS Re:Invent — I really enjoyed this AWS Keynote. It wasn’t just a string of feature releases, but a narrative about the current state of cloud, and the future. Definitely worth a watch if you find the time. You can also catch the recorded version on the AWS YouTube channel ▶️.

✏️ Andy Jassy Keynote AWS Re:Invent  — The second interesting keynote from re:invent was Andy Jassy’s (CEO of AWS) which was the first keynote. Lots of interesting announcements in there, and another one that should be high up the list if you’re planning to make your way through AWS Re:Invent stuff. You can also catch the recorded version on the AWS YouTube channel ▶️.

✏️ AWS Fault Injection Simulator — Announced in Werners keynote, this service is chaos engineering for AWS. This is a neat idea for a service, which basically injects “erroneous” events into your environment, to test your resiliency. I’m seeing a lot of people in the industry getting really bullish on chaos engineering, as the need for service reliability increases over time. Expect more announcements, features and discussions on chaos engineering in the future!

✏️ Amazon Amplify Admin UI — I must admit, I didn’t know too much about Amazon Amplify before, but when this announcement was dropped, people went crazy, I saw comments everywhere. I was curious as to why… and when you dig into the service, it makes sense why. This new Admin UI is exposing (an external to the AWS console) dashboard for access to manipulate data in a back-end, somewhat like a CMS. Now I think about it, I can totally see why people are so pumped about this feature. Worth checking out if you want some easily shareable backend CMS-type behaviours.

✏️ The Modular AWS SDK For JavaScript ✏️— A new AWS SDK has been released for JavaScript. Unlike the old SDK, the new one is more modular, which is great news for AWS Lambda users, who want to ensure they keep their deployed package lightweight. It’s not introducing all that much which is new, but it’s a good modernisation and step forward for SDK users in JavaScript.

✏️ VPC Reachability Analyser — If you’ve ever tried to debug networking issues, you know it can be a serious pain. The VPC reachability analyser from AWS introduces a tool which makes it easier to test connections between VPC’s, which should be another tool in the toolkit for debugging networks, which hopefully now makes things less painful.

✏️ AWS CloudShell — I’m really excited about AWS CloudShell, and what it does. AWS CloudShell is a new extension of the AWS console which lets you run AWS commands directly inside the AWS console. Basically you’re dropped straight into a linux environment, that persists if you log back in as the same user. Pretty neat.

How-To’s & Educational Pieces 🤓

And some decent content on how to do various cloud things.

✏️What a typical 100% serverless architecture looks like in AWS — This piece isn’t a new one, but it’s a good one. The article has a ton of links to additional resources, that are useful, but what I really like is how it shows how serverless architectures are about so much more than serverless compute. It’s about all the periphery services, and how they integrate with serverless in a very cloud native way. Worth checking out if you haven’t already seen it.

✏️ Aurora Serverless V2: The Good, The Better & The Possibly Amazing — “This thing just might be a silver bullet!”. A bold statement from Jeremy in this article about Aurora Serverless V2. Aurora Serverless is the auto-scaling configurations for Aurora (Amazon’s relational database service). It’s basically an easier way to manage resources you give to your database (specifically a relational database). In the article Jeremy runs through some specifics of how the scaling works, it’s limitations, and how much it costs.

✏️ 3 Things I Wish I Knew About AWS Lambda’s Early On — A small article on some AWS Lambda gotcha’s. Useful if you’re new to AWS Lambda, or not fully familiar with how it works under the hood. I also wrote a similar article in the past: Misconceptions of serverless: 5 things you thought AWS Lambda did, but it doesn’t. which I’d also recommend if you’re new to AWS Lambda. There’s some things about the implementation that might surprise you (it definitely surprised me!)

✏️How To Prepare For A Site Reliability Engineer Interview — Whilst you might not be actively looking for a position, learning about interview processes can help you identify gaps in your experience before you might need to learn them. This article takes you through some example questions, and what you’d need to know to answer them. Curious about becoming an SRE? This might be a good place to start in figuring out the role of an SRE, and whether you want to become one.

✏️ What I Wish I Knew About Incident Management — Incident management is a big topic of running production workloads in the cloud. In this article, Ronak Natani runs through many things that he’d wish he’d known before joining LinkedIn as an SRE. It’s a really nice read, it’s candid and honest, and there’s some good tips in here that you can borrow for your own company about dealing with incidents, communicating during them, etc.

▶️ Serverless Chats: The Best of 2020 — In this video, Jeremy runs through some highlights from the Serverless Chats podcast. If you’re not following the podcast, this would be a great place to start, as there’s clips from so many of the different shows. The video somehow only has 140 views, but it deserves much, much more. Great video.

✏️ Building a Containerised Lambda Function — So AWS announced a few weeks ago container support for AWS Lambda, and we’re now starting to see people playing around with the functionality, in this post Oliver Jumpertz takes you through how to actually get going with a containerised AWS Lambda function.

Opinion Pieces / Miscellaneous 💭

Cloud commentary and spicy takes!

✏️Off By None Issue #122 — Usually I check the off by none newsletter each month for interesting announcements, and pass on any relevant ones through to you, but this newsletter is in fact a great run-down of the whole year which makes it hard to summarise, so I’ll just share the whole thing! There’s a ton of great content in here for you to look back at from the year incase you missed anything.

✏️Serverless at Re:Invent Hot Takes — More Re:Invent updates. In this article Yan takes you through the key Serverless updates from Re:Invent, covering Lambda billing changes, up to the Aurora V2 announcement. A nice summary with some additional thoughts / commentary.

🐦 The Tech Resume: Inside Out — I put up a Tweet thread on the book by Gergely Orosz, which he graciously gifted to me. To keep my review short: I liked it. If you’re needing to put together a CV, I can highly recommend the book, you’re going to get all of your questions answered about writing a CV as a developer, and you’ll also get practical things like templates on how to put together a tech CV. Lots of quotes from people in the industry, and some great insider tips. Useful for everyone in tech.

✏️AWS Lambda Is Winning, But First It Had To Die — I’ve been enjoying the Forrest Brazeals content a lot recently, he has some really great takes, and a really interesting writing style that’s quite unlike anyone else in the cloud world right now. I’m always very grateful for those that bring humour, some fun and a human aspect to the cloud space. Forrest is definitely worth a follow if you’re into cloudy stuff. At this point, he’s ascending to the ranks of one of those authors who whatever they publish, I read. Interestingly from the article Forrest points out the single remaining major remaining difference between AWS Lambda and Fargate: AWS Lambda scales per request, which is definitely something that I’ve been wondering recently.

✏️AWS Amplify, SAM, CDK: What to choose for your Infrastructure As Code on AWS?!? — There’s a frightening amount of infrastructure as code tools nowadays, the approaches and methods seems to be growing and getting more nuanced by the day. Something similar that I wrote a few months back is also: Serverless on AWS Lambda: A Comprehensive Comparison Of Approaches (Serverless Framework vs SAM vs Terraform vs CloudFormation) which, whilst Serverless specific, covers a similar topic of choosing between these infrastructure as code tools.

Outages / Breaches 💭

What went down or got hacked?

✏️Google OAuth Outage — I don’t think I could publish the newsletter for December without a link to the Google Outage, since it was so widespread. I haven’t payed a great deal of attention to outages in the past, but something this widespread in Google feels like it hasn’t happened for a while. Basically a ton of the Google apps were affected, as the incident was related to authentication. Take a read if you’re into that kinda thing.

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That’s All Folks 🎉 🥳 🤓

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

In 2021 I’m really trying to grow and improve the newsletter, I’ll be putting in as much effort as I can for you. If you could do me one favour, to share the newsletter with your friends, colleagues or on social media. There’s also a new landing page, so the value & purpose should be more clear! Together let’s make cloud engineering more accessible!

Speak soon Cloud Engineering friends!

Lou 🙃

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Lou Bichard