Cloud Software Engineering Newsletter #22 (March Recap 2021)

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Well hello!

Welcome back to this month’s edition of the cloud software engineering newsletter! The newsletter is finding you a little later in the month than usual, but that’s because of the bank holiday over in the UK. Nevertheless, let’s start taking a look at this month’s goings-on in the cloud world…

This Month’s Top Cloud Pick(s) ⏫

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

James Beswick Lambda Posts — Okay, so I’m cheating (again!). Because this isn’t one single post, but a link to James Beswick’s AWS profile. Over the last few months, James has been putting out various series’ on how to operate, monitor & secure AWS Lambda (and more). James’ articles are really well put together, dive into some obscure but useful aspects of AWS Lambda, and are collaborated on by a whole bunch of people in AWS, so you can trust the quality. I highly recommend them all, and that’s why I consider the articles my top pick for the month!

Feature Releases & Announcements 📚

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

AWS Fault Injection Simulator (Jeff Barr, AWS News Blog) — Back in Re:Invent, AWS announced the upcoming release of a new service, the AWS fault injection service, which they’ve now rolled out. Chaos engineering is the embodiment of the idea of praying for the best but preparing for the worst. Fault Injection Simulator allows you to inject failures into your AWS environment so that you can ensure your architecture/infrastructure is fault-tolerant and resilient. It works with EC2, ECS and RDS at the moment, but will expand.

CloudWatch Metric Streams (Jeff Barr, AWS News Blog) — There have always been difficulties getting data from CloudWatch and into third-party applications without some element of latency as you were required to poll for updates periodically. CloudWatch Metric streams is another step from AWS to try and make the process of ingesting metrics easier.

Amazon S3 Object Lambda (Daniel Poccia, AWS News Blog) — This AWS Announcement made a bit of a stir. Basically, AWS now allows you to run a lambda on an S3 object to perform processing. It might not seem like much at first glance, but when you dig into it, you start to understand the use-cases and why people are excited about the feature. I did a write-up of the S3 Object Lambda feature over on Instagram, and also put up a thread on Twitter to break down the feature, to explain why it’s useful, and the main use-cases (which aren’t very apparent at first glance!).

ACloudGuru is now on Discord (Forrest Brazeal, ACloudGuru) — ACloudGuru launched a Discord server. A few months back, I started spending more time in discords and chat channels, and have really enjoyed the experience, and I’d really suggest that you do go join some if you’re not already. I personally spend a lot of time in the Cloud Resume Challenge discord, the 100daysofcloud discord, and now the ACloudGuru discord. Also, a few months back I published a list of my favourite online cloud communities, so I guess I now need to update that list!

AWS Serverless Patterns (Serverless Land) — The AWS Serverless Advocates have been working on Serverless Land as a separate site for some time now. But they just released a new part to the site, which is a collection of serverless patterns. Here’s the announcement tweet.

S3 is 15 years old (Jeff Barr, AWS News Blog) — Earlier this month S3 reached its 15 year milestone. It almost feels odd that S3 is only 15 years old, as it feels like it’s always been around. It was also quite fun to read the original S3 blog post announcement.

How-To’s & Educational Pieces 🤓

Articles on how-to do various cool things with the cloud.

The Simple Guide To Testing Within Your Serverless CI/CD Pipelines (Paul Swail, Serverless First) — The topic of re-building artifacts as part of your pipeline is one of those big and hairy software engineering topics, but another interesting one, and another piece in the puzzle for cloud engineers to figure out. Paul breaks down some aspects and provides some patterns and suggestions for how and when to test your serverless applications. Also, the blog post links to an interesting Twitter thread on the topic of whether you should re-build or re-use artifacts as part of your deployment process, which is worth a look.

Operating Lambda: Using CloudWatch Insights (James Beswick, AWS Compute Blog) — Man, James has been on fire recently! Pumping out the AWS articles, and they’re all very high-quality, well researched, and well written. I’d highly recommend checking out the blogs James puts out. In this article, James goes through and explains CloudWatch Lambda Insights, structured logging. Honestly, if you’re using AWS Lambda and CloudWatch, learning how to use CloudWatch Lambda Insights is a must. It’s a very powerful feature, and one that makes working with logs from all services, not just Lambda considerably easier.

Operating Lambda: Debugging Code – Part 1Operating Lambda: Debugging Configurations – Part 2Operating Lambda – part 3 (James Beswick, AWS Compute Blog) — It seems James is trying to keep me on my toes this month, with so much content to get through. With Serverless, developers are now expected to know about and implement their own operations, which can be a tough affair, as there can be lots to understand within the realms of operations, and that’s what this series of blog posts is all about. Part one covers general errors and gotchas. Then part two and three then goes into configuration setups, including things like understanding and managing memory leaks in Lambda (yep, Lambda can have memory leaks).

Opinion Pieces / Miscellaneous 💭

Cloud commentary, spicy takes, memes, and just-for-fun stuff!

Serverless is ready, developers are not (Ibrahim Cesar, DEV.TO) — I really enjoyed this article. When I saw the title, it really caught my eye, as it’s something I’ve also been thinking about for some time. Serverless development is definitely not straightforward. A few years back in the microservices world, people were talking about the fact that “you must be X tall to use microservices“. In other words, microservices is not easy, and to get going you need to understand many additional concepts: Continuous Integration, Testing, API Contracts, Independent Deploys (the list goes on). And the same problems also plague Serverless development. I even wrote about this a few years ago in the six concepts you need to know before trying Serverless.

Corey Quinn’s AWS Beta Certification Exam Report (Last Week In AWS, Corey Quinn) — AWS has started incorporating “labs” into their exams. In this write-up, Corey runs you through his experience taking those new certifications that also include labs. I’m generally in favour of the idea of a lab section of the AWS exam, I’ll have to try it myself to see what I think.

The value of community & the AWS community builders program with Linda Vivah (Brian Hough, YouTube) — This YouTube was originally sent out as an Instagram live over on Brian’s Instagram page, with guest Linda Vivah. The topic was about the AWS community builders program which has just closed another round of applications (but keep your eyes peeled as it re-opens again in Q3) and getting started with cloud. Both are sharing lots of cloud and tech over on Instagram, and I’d suggest checking both of their profiles out!

Is an AWS Certification enough to get you a job? (Spoiler: No) (Lou Bichard, The Dev Coach) — This is a really common question that I see and get from readers who are thinking about getting a certification and wondering: is it enough to get a job? In this article, I dig into not only whether or not a certification is enough, and why, but critically, I also cover the four steps you should be taking in order to land a tech job. This article goes into a lot of detail on it (>3000 words) to really break down the steps here, and I think for a lot of people, the article should be super useful.

Which AWS Certification Should You Take First? (Lou Bichard, The Dev Coach) — Another common AWS Certification question is which certification should you take first? In this article I cover the certifications, their structure, to cover off the question of which certification to take first.

Outages / Breaches 💭

What went down or got hacked?

Microsoft Exchange Breach — A big outage/breach from this past month or so was the Microsoft Exchange breach, with hundreds of thousands of servers breached as a result.

Facebook loses a bunch of data — 500 million Facebook user details were posted online.

Github Actions being abused to mine crypto — An attack that exploits incoming pull requests on Github Actions has been used as a way to mine bitcoin.

Personal Updates 🙍🏼‍♂️

What I’ve been up to over the past month.

This last month I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting by posting various things on Instagram on the topic of cloud. I’m finding it’s already stretching my abilities and forcing me to make more visual content than I was before… which so far seems like a good thing. You can already see the cross-over into my blogs, which also now have a lot more infographics and visuals.

In other news, whilst I started off the year intending to write 100 articles I also wasn’t expecting to also start experimenting with YouTube videos. But… one thing leads to the next and I’m now 7 videos into a series about the Cloud Resume Challenge. I highly recommend the challenge itself, and if you want to see how I’m completing it, you can follow along on YouTube.

See You Next Month 👋

That’s all for this month’s newsletter, thanks again for listening in!

If you receive only one newsletter on cloud engineering, this should be it. You should never miss an important update, I prioritize the important things up top and read everything I share with youyou. If I’m not achieving my promise, hit reply and let me know how I can improve.

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Speak soon Cloud Engineering friends!

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Lou Bichard