Good morning!

Welcome to issue number 65 of Last Week in AWS.

This week has me on vacation in the general Chicago area, wherein I get to explain to my relatives what exactly it is I do for a living. “No, I make fun of Amazon, and somehow that turns into a career. No, not the parts of Amazon that sell you toilet paper. No, I’m not ‘smoking something.’ Y’know what, nevermind. I’m an accountant.”

You’ll also find a new recurring section below– “Jobs”. If your company is interested in hiring from the legions of intelligent, well-informed, and better-dressed-than-average readers of this newsletter for a cloud-related job, please get in touch.

This week’s issue is exclusively sponsored by my friends at DigitalOcean. In my own words, not theirs:

Currents, (the Digital Ocean quarterly trends report) came out last week. There’s some gold in here– 2% of container workloads run Perl, developers evaluate jobs based upon opportunities for internal growth and development with the same weight as they do competitive salaries, and the second most frequent reason developers leave their job is their absolute jerk of a boss. Container adoption may be at a tipping point, but serverless isn’t there yet. What goodies did I miss?”

Community Contributions

Given mortal enemies Oracle, SAP America, General Dynamics’s CSRA unit, Red Hat, VMware, Microsoft, IBM, Dell Technologies, and Hewlett Packard, you’d not expect them to agree on anything. It should warm your heart to see them joining forces to hurl Amazon under the bus with respect to a $10 billion contract. Am I missing something about how any of those vendors could possibly deliver within a mile of Amazon’s capability here?

The Terrible Orange Website discusses the “serious projects” people have done with serverless architectures.

Whenever a company like IOpipe authors a blog post about the Right Way to do Serverless in Python, I read it with some trepidation, assuming I’m about to get shown exactly how big of an idiot I’ve been. In this case, the blog post describes my exact Serverless workflow– so if I’m doing it wrong, at least I’m in good company.

Stripe wrote an incredibly detailed blog post about effectively using AWS Reserved Instances. I love the level of detail and transparency here– but this blog post highlights the entire problem: you need a data warehouse and a data science team with programming chops to implement what’s fundamentally a Finance function. Who doesn’t want to do predictive capacity planning for on-demand resources?

Will all laugh when it comes to light that Amazon’s “acquisition” was just PillPack defaulting on its AWS bill…

Kelly Sommers had this intriguing tweet about running over 2 million cores in a single AWS cluster. I’m fascinated and would love to learn more about projects at this scale.

In which my made-up job title of “Cloud Economist” gets torn to shreds by “Actual Economists” in BBVA’s analysis of the Economics of Serverless. There will be math.

“Amazon’s poaching a LOT of Microsoft executives, mostly due to the fact that they pay WAY above market!” breathlessly exclaims CNBC, demonstrating their complete lack of awareness of what “market rate” is for senior people in Seattle.

“Good news, everyone! My boss tried to fire me, but I got a bunch of my coworkers to side with me and tell him he’s crap at his job. I predict nothing but smooth sailing for my career from here on out!” I don’t understand what a positive outcome here looks like for anyone involved.

I’m also at a complete loss to understand where this ridiculous post came from. I get that the author has a product to sell, but “large cloud platforms are notoriously insecure, the only safe choice is to use bare metal” is FUD to a degree that’s just unimaginable to my mind. “The cloud is terribly insecure” is a narrative that’ll surely come as a surprise to many large banks, governments, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and virtually every multinational company on the planet.

A fun walkthrough of how CloudFormation works and how to use it to build a VPC ties in neatly with this other post on VPC networking.


SignalFx is looking for Software Engineers for its Infrastructure and Tools team, to help tame the needs of a fast-growing SignalFx Platform and unlock the gates to SaaS nirvana. If building and engineering highly elastic, self-healing and robot infrastructure to the sometimes law-of-physics-bending demands of a fast growing company floats your boat, this gig may be for you. To find out more about this adventure, check them out. As an added bonus, my friend Leonid just started as their EVP of Engineering; should you find yourself working at SignalFx, let me know and I’ll share a raft of embarrassing stories about him.

Choice Cuts From the AWS Blog

Access Secrets Across AWS Accounts By Attaching Resource-based Policies – I usually access secrets across AWS accounts by looking for insecure S3 buckets, but this sounds way easier.

AWS Lambda Adds Amazon Simple Queue Service to Supported Event Sources – Only four short years after Lambda entered preview, the first-launched service finally becomes aware that it exists. I figure they had to roust a few developers out of retirement on their private island, hence the delay.

Amazon EBS Extends Elastic Volumes to Support EBS Magnetic (Standard) Volume Type – Huh. I didn’t realize any innovation was happening around magnetic storage at any large company in 2018. Color me surprised.

Amazon EKS is HIPAA Eligible – Good news! You can now put healthcare data into the AWS service that’s functionally equivalent to hurling a bunch of boxes down an up escalator.

Amazon Inspector Now Provides an Exclusion List that Details Errors to Help Resolve Assessment Run Issues – “Yeah, our root password is set to ticklepony on all of our servers, but we know about it so it’s okay. Stop reminding us.”

Announcing Amazon Linux 2 with Long Term Support (LTS) – Amazon Linux 2 is out, and will be supported for five years. Enjoy your old and new favorite tools, such as yum, systemd, and a fairly limited package ecosystem that awaits your scorn! That said… it’s pretty nice so far.

Announcing General Availability of Performance Insights – Performance Insights lets you answer the question “Why is my database performance so terrible.” Before you use it, be sure to ask yourself one question: “Do I really want the answer?”

AWS Database Migration Service Can Start Replication Anywhere in a Transaction Log– The initially-maligned-but-better-now DMS continues to gain fascinating capabilities. I have to admit– DMS went from “my favorite thing to make fun of” to one of the AWS services I admire the most in a remarkably short time. We’ll see if EKS can pull off a similar feat…

AWS Introduces Amazon Linux WorkSpaces – Great news for the dozens of you who’ve been clamoring for Linux desktops in the cloud. Meanwhile I’d pay an obscene amount of money for a MacOS version…

Linked Accounts can now Access AWS Cost Explorer’s Reserved Instance (RI) Purchase Recommendations – Finally. “You’re not the payer account so you get no visibility into what RI purchases make sense for your account” never made a lick of sense to me. It’s about on par with the billing default of “your IAM users can provision services to their heart’s content, but we absolutely will not let them see what those resources cost.”

Disaster Response for Nonprofits & NGOs – I didn’t realize that AWS had an entire program for disaster response. I was going to make a snide comment about us-east–1, but this is incredibly neat / heartwarming.

VPC Management Console – Ooh, you can now see resources by region in the default VPC view. Finally! No more “clicking in every region to find the misplaced VPC.”



This open source tool lets you compare similar instance offerings across the big 3 cloud providers.

Ooh, using Terraform to create alarms for specific events in CloudTrail is a handy feature.

I really like awls; it’s a remarkably fast way to grab EC2 instance information from the CLI in a format a human might find useful.

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

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