Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Serverless LinkLog #1

This is the second in an occasional series of LinkLog posts. I list links to interesting articles, video and audio items on "serverless computing" and allied topics. Just like in my Machine Learning LinkLog #1 I group the items into three broad categories:

Introductory Non Technical - Aimed at the general reader or, perhaps, technical manager who wants to learn about Serverless, but is not aiming to be a practitioner
Introductory Technical - Aimed at someone who is comfortable with programming and technology, but wishes to learn how to work with serverless tools or techniques
In Depth Technical - Aimed at someone who is comfortable with the fundamentals of serverless technology, but wants to learn more about a particular aspect or wants to master "day two" problems.

I also intend to indicate whether the item is (mainly) a slidedeck, a video, a single article or a series of items. A secondary goal is to avoid the trope of using pictures of clouds to illustrate serverless topics - however, I apologize in advance if I fail.

If You Only Read One Thing About Serverless

Having said all of that, if you only want to read one thing about serverless, then I recommend "Serverless Archictectures" by Mike Roberts. It will take you from 0 to 60 - not only understanding what are serverless architectures and how they relate to Backend-As-A-Service and Function-As-A-Service, but also their future potential and current shortcomings. This is for both technical and non technical people and will give you much greater insight than any of the introductory material listed below. However, it is quite long - I wound up reading it in chunks. So, you might read one or more of the "intro" items, before coming back to this one.

Introductory Non Technical

How Can Enterprises Leverage Serverless Computing Platforms?
Two page introduction from Forbes, talks a lot about AWS Lambda, but mentions competitors. Discusses how various large enterprises are blending serverless with their other compute strategies.

A Guide to Serverless Computing with AWS Lambda
Decent introduction for technical managers - has some source code, but it really isn't aimed at help you write lambda code. Very AWS specific, of course, but has a nod to competitor offerings.

AWS Lambda is Everywhere
Adrian Cockcroft gives an overview of AWS Lambda, with particular emphasis on the latest (November 2016) announcements from AWS re:Invent.

Evolution of Business Logic from Monoliths through Microservices, to Functions

Adrian Cockcroft again - portraying AWS Lambda as the logical next step in the business of computing.

Two part article from Charity Majors. Pours cold water on the notion that "serverless == noops" i.e. that just because you are not provisioning servers yourself that you therefore don't need to worry about operational problems anymore. In fact, she makes a compelling case that serverless requires all developers to think much more profoundly about operational, "day two" problems. She also points out how much more opaque serverless applications are, making them much harder to debug.

Introductory Technical

This is a bit confusing but ... there is an open source framework called "Serverless" aimed at making it easier to work with various technologies - including AWS Lambda, Azure Functions and Google CloudFunctions. There are other frameworks (see Zappa and Apex below) but this one seems popular (maybe because it is likely to come up when you google for "serverlesss"? Or, more seriously, maybe because it supports a variety of technologies and deployment scenarios - including local for development)

Open source framework for for turning Python WSGI applications into serverless apps using AWS Lambda and Gateway. Supports advnaced capabilities, including scheduling and keep_warm (for better performance).

Open source framework aimed at making AWS Lambda easier to work with. Adds support for non Lambda-native languages (such as golang) via a node.js shim.

Writing a cron job microservice with Serverless and AWS Lambda
A hands on article takes you through a practical example of how to write a cron-equivalent using Serverless (the framework) and AWS Lambda.

How to build powerful back-ends easily with Serverless
An image processing server in node,js with the Serverless framework, using a bundle of AWS services - Lambda, Rekognition and S3.

Bring static to life using serverless

Serverless Video Playlist
Nine video playlist of hands-on basic coding with AWS serverless with an emphasis on Lambda and node.js.

In Depth Technical

Serverless Workflows on AWS: My Journey From SWF to Step Functions
In depth technical discussion of AWS Simple Workflow and Lambda, with an emphasis on AWS Step Functions - sort of like Finite State Machines.

Fission: Serverless Functions as a Service for Kubernetes
Using Kubernetes to host Functions as a Service. Kubernetes is a way to host Linux containers within a cluster. So, this is a way to achieve a serverless architecture without using any of Lambda, Azure or CloudFunctions. In other words, this is a kind of "private serverless" (akin to "private cloud").

Airbnb's open source framework for analyzing massive log streams and alerting on them by defining rules in Python. Uses AWS Lambda and Kinesis, amongst other technologies.

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