Open Up The Cloud Newsletter #24 (May Recap 2021)

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Well hello, cloud engineering friend! This months newsletter comes to you a little later than usual (I like to ship the newsletter shipped close to the start of the month) but since I was off for the long weekend in the UK it’s ! ☀️

Last month I mentioned I was switching domains, from to This month, the migration’s done! 🚀 I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to the domain swap process… but it’s now done!

But that’s enough small-talk, let’s get to what you are here for: the cloud updates.

What’s been going on in the month of May? Let’s take a look!

This Month’s Top Cloud Pick(s) ⏫

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

State of Serverless (DataDog)— The report by DataDog this month shows interesting stats, such as continued growth in Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions as well as AWS Lambda. Notably, AWS Lambda invocations are getting shorter, possibly due to factors like AWS moving to 1ms billing, or the break down of the AWS SDK into modules, but AWS Lambda functions are simultaneously getting longer too, possibly due to increased memory capacity and EFS support unlocking certain use-cases. Interestingly also, Python increased in AWS Lambda popularity compared to Node.JS.

Feature Releases & Announcements 📚

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

ECS Anywhere (AWS News) — As container orchestration with Kubernetes also builds in popularity, AWS offer their own in-built solution by allowing their container orchestration ECS to run on any machine, anywhere. However, since ECS anywhere isn’t yet optimised for inbound traffic, that does write off a huge number of production use-cases… but that functionality will likely be a feature in future. The means now more solutions like AWS outposts which blend the world of on-premise computing and cloud together.

Pluralsight acquire A Cloud Guru! (A Cloud Guru) — Woah! So I did not see this coming! A Cloud Guru are even still finishing off their merger with Linux Academy when this news has been announced. Some people are (rightly) worried now at the shrinking competition in the cloud learning market. Personally, I’m curious to see how the two platforms will blend given their very different model. However, A Cloud Guru do confirm that no changes are expected in the short term.

CloudFront Functions (AWS News)— Earlier this month AWS announced a new feature, CloudFront functions. Looking closely, though, Cloudfront Functions are not the same as Lambda@Edge, in fact, they’re arguably what Lambda@Edge should have always been. CloudFront functions have some unique limitations as compared with Lambda@Edge, for example, you cannot do any I/O, and you also don’t have access to the network. I did a gallery post write up of this feature over on the Open Up The Cloud Instagram if you’re the visual type.

Lambda Extensions go GA (AWS News) — Announced a few months back (October 2020), when I also wrote up what Lambda Extensions are and whether you should care is now Generally Available (GA). AWS Lambda Extensions, as a feature, is aimed at vendors who are extending the lambda tooling, so be sure to take a look at the announcement post if you’re using one of the affected monitoring tools with lambda (e.g DataDog, Hashicorp, Honeycomb) that you can now upgrade.

Incident Manager (AWS News) — AWS have now announced a new tool for managing incidents, which includes sending pages and managing escalation policies, very similar to what you’d get with a tool like PagerDuty. Whilst these tools/services from AWS have often been a bit sparse, it’s always nice to have an option for this type of tooling within AWS without needing to look into and assess third-party tooling.

How-To’s & Educational Pieces 🤓

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

Developing Against The Cloud (AJ Stuybenberg) — This topic is a YouTube video that I’ve been dying to make! The trade-offs and patterns of either trying to replicate your application locally or deploy against the cloud. In this article, AJ Stuyvenberg talks about how using Serverless deploy to deploy just your function code can help to speed up the whole process. In my opinion, this isn’t the full answer to the problem, but it is part of it. Also, why local development for serverless is an anti-pattern. As Heitor Lassa also points out, developing against the cloud is also an issue with internet speeds.

Cloud Resume Challenge (Open Up The Cloud YouTube) — Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a YouTube series on the Cloud Resume Challenge. If you want to watch the evolution of my videography skills, this series is it! 😂But more seriously, the series takes you step-by-step through the challenge and is a guide for those who are attempting it. The Cloud Resume Challenge is a great project to recommend to friends or colleagues who might ask you how they can get into the cloud, or what projects they should start with. If you need any help with the challenge, I recommend also joining the Cloud Resume Challenge discord, and/or the A Cloud Guru discord.

Serverless Framework vs AWS SAM (TechMagic, Medium) — It’s a tough, complicated and ever-evolving discussion on which tooling to use alongside your Serverless application. Tech Magic is taking a swing at trying to decipher the differences here. I’ve also tried to “pull this sword from the stone” by comparing Serverless Framework, AWS SAM, Terraform and CloudFormation as different options for deploying on AWS Lambda.

How To Pass The AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam (Danny Steenman) — If you’re thinking to take an AWS exam, the cloud practitioner is widely regarded as the best place to start (Why? Find out: Which AWS Exam To Take first?). In this article, Danny runs you through the exam overview, and lots of different resources to help you out along the way. Also, whilst we’re here…if you’re into cloud, which I’m guessing you are, then Danny’s blog generally is also worth the follow.

Opinion Pieces / Miscellaneous 💭

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

Building Microservices, 2nd Edition (Sam Newman, Twitter) — It seems Sam Newman and O’Reilly are cooking a new edition of “Building Microservices”. The original is one of my all-time favourite tech books, and one of my most recommended. The book covers lots of ground about building fine-grained systems, and it gives some deep insight into the nuances you’ll inevitably bump into, like testing many microservices, sizing and determining sizes of microservices, communicating between microservices, etc. If you haven’t read the first one, be sure to get a copy of this one.

Naming Names In Incident Write-Ups (Lorin Hochstein) — When it comes to managing complex systems, it’s accepted that we should analyse incidents and outages to learn from them. A well-adopted practice is to avoid blame, in order to promote openness and increase any possible learnings. However, as part of that analysis process, should you call out the names of specific individuals? Having specifics like names are needed to understand context and detail, but does that also impact the blameless nature?

A tale of moving 4000 Github repositories to GitHub Actions (DAZN, Medium) — A shameless self-plug, but I do think you might like this article, where I cover the start of DAZNs migration from Drone to Github Actions, covering the learnings and pain points from migrating a large number of repos to Github Actions. It’s also my first official article for DAZN engineering, but there’s lots more to come in the future!

Please fix the AWS free tier before somebody gets hurt (Forrest Brazeal) — There was a lot of noise this past month about the AWS free tier and how it’s a dangerous trap for beginners (yep, I have been caught by it, too). The free-tier is coming under now growing criticism, (of course, including my own criticisms). That said, the best current solution, that I continue to recommend is the A Cloud Guru playground. The playground gives you hours of access to AWS/Azure/GCP where you can create as many resources as you like, and it’s all automatically cleaned up, reducing fears and encouraging you to explore more.

AWS Elastic Load Balancer Yodel Rag (Forrest Brazeal) — The musical cloud meme wars continue to heat up (lambda the musical168 AWS services in 2 minutes) with Forrest’s song about ELB’s. What next? Honestly, at this point, I have no idea.

Personal Updates 🙍🏼‍♂️

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

As I mentioned at the start of the newsletter, the big thing I was working on was the domain migration to—which is now complete (with a few small exceptions)! Initially, I didn’t see really any traffic loss, however now as search engine pages are getting re-indexed I am seeing a significant dip in traffic.

Aside from domain migrating, I’ve been continuing the Cloud Resume Challenge series continues on the Open Up The Cloud YouTube Channel. This week’s episode goes into the details of running unit tests with Go in Github Actions (GHA) after that we’ll cover creating infrastructure from GHA, and then how to upload a website to S3 from GHA.

There’s only two more video’s to do and that’s the full challenge complete! After I finish the series I’ll follow up with some videos talking about how to clean up the challenge and going through some more advanced concepts. You can subscribe here!

See You Next Month 👋

And that’s all for this month’s newsletter, thanks again for joining!

If you’ve got feedback on the newsletter, e.g. if there’s something you would like to see more or less of reply to the email and let me know. I’m always looking for ways to make the newsletter more relevant and useful for you 🙏.

Speak soon Cloud Engineering friends!

Lou 🙃

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Lou Bichard