Welcome to the thirteenth issue of Last Week in AWS.

My thanks again go to Datadog for sponsoring this issue:

Cloud-scale monitoring, from AWS to ZooKeeper – Ever wish you could graph all your AWS metrics, correlate them with 150+ other techs, and set up sophisticated alerts? There’s a monitoring service for that: It’s called Datadog. Here’s a free trial.

Community Contributions

In the last issue I called out Amazon’s non-compete suit against a former employee who left to work at SmartSheets. I take no credit for their dropping of the lawsuit last Wednesday– it’s just good news for everyone.

The economics of serverless architectures continue to interest me– in this writeup, Postlight talks about how they knocked two orders of magnitudeoff of the costs of a legacy API by rewriting it in Lambda + API Gateway. A great story all around, and it sets out a compelling business case for making such a migration rather than doing it blindly based off of a post on Hacker News.

Hacker News thread on people’s experience with Lambda in production. There’s a lot less profanity than I was expecting, as well as some great use cases I hadn’t considered. Definitely take the time to glance through this if serverless is of interest to you.

Emacs or vi? Spaces or tabs? ECS or Kubernetes? Cloudonaut returns with a thoughtful analysis of the space’s latest religious war.

Walmart wins this edition of the “Jerk of the Week” award. Picking a cloud vendor is a nuanced and difficult decision– there are three solid major players in this space, and a lot of factors play into which one you choose. “We do business with Walmart and they’re pissy at Amazon” shouldn’t be one of those factors. Have tactics like this ever worked against established companies?

I’ve been meaning to somehow mention Gartner’s new IaaS Public Cloud quadrant, but couldn’t find a sarcastic enough take on the topic last week. An article that starts with the sentence “Some people — and I’m one of them — are cynical about the value of Gartner’s Magic Quadrants” is the closest I’ve found to date. If you want an article about it that reads like a case study from business school and sings Gartner’s praises, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

A nice modern writeup of how to securely and sanely access AWS Parameter Store (a component of EC2 Systems Manager) from inside of Docker containers running in Elastic Beanstalk. Think of this as an answer to “how do I safely give secrets to my Docker containers without my CISO gnawing through my cubical wall to strangle me?”

Amazon’s New Customer – Stratechery by Ben Thompson – The excellent Stratechery delves into the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods through the lens of AWS. This is a thoughtful piece about the larger strategic aims of Amazon; if you’re here for a technical quick-fix, move on.

Choice Cuts From the AWS Blog

New – Managed Device Authentication for Amazon WorkSpaces – I once worked at a small tech startup where I was given an interesting challenge. The CEO wanted to be able to access the administrative panel from his device while drinking at a bar (see: small tech startup) without bothering to log in. I gimmicked up a quick solution that involved putting a client certificate on his device to handle this for him. AWS has now taken this hackneyed solution to their WorkSpaces product as an additional security measure, almost assuredly for nobler purposes.

CloudWatch simplifies your AWS bill, bringing together CloudWatch charges under one Billing section – CloudWatch billing has gotten a lot simpler than it used to be. The previous sentence is an example of what is known as “damning with faint praise.”

Amazon Route 53 announces support for multivalue answers in response to DNS queries – For God’s sake please don’t do this; too many places do weird things to DNS (“You want this record to be valid for 60 seconds? Okay, we’ll cache it for a day for you!”) for you to trust this for anything other than the coarsest implementation of multi-AZ redundancy.

In the Works – AWS Region in Hong Kong – In a petty, small-minded effort to clutter my wall map of AWS’s physical locations yet further, Amazon will be launching a Hong Kong region next year.


Want to be able to have people self-invite themselves to a Slack team? AWS Community Hero John Varghese talks us through an implementation of a self-inviter that leverages AWS Lambda.

There are a lot of comparative instance pricing tools out there, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. I like its approach to getting an apples-to-apples comparison; the linked example compares all available instance types, sorted by on-demand cost per gigabyte of RAM.

Want to run tests against your Lambda functions without touching AWS’s infrastructure? Take a look at docker-lambda. It replicates the Lambda environment in a Docker container, enabling CI on your lambda functions.

Tip of the Week

…and that’s what happened Last Week in AWS.

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