AWS Services for Thanksgiving Dinner

Episode Summary

Join Pete, Jesse, and Amy as they talk about AWS services through the lens of Thanksgiving dinner. Find out why Peter thinks EC2 is the turkey, why Amy thinks Lambda is the canned cranberry sauce but Pete thinks it’s the special smoked turkey, the monitoring system Pete has built for his smoker at home and how it causes him to end errands early sometimes, why Jesse thinks S3 is the mashed potatoes of the meal, how IAM is like gravy that goes on everything, why Pete thinks SimpleDB is like ambrosia salad, how there’s a food item called a piecaken, and more.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript


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Pete: Hello, and welcome to AWS Morning Brief. I am Pete Cheslock, and I am here yet again with Jesse DeRose. Jesse, welcome back. 

Jesse: Thanks for having me, Pete. 

Pete: But it's not just the two of us. We have a very special guest: we are also joined with one of the newest hires to The Duckbill Group, Amy Negrette. Amy, hello.

Amy: Hello. And one might say the most special of guests; that person would be me.

Pete: The most special of guests. 

Jesse: [laugh].

Pete: Well, we are pleased to have you. So, in honor of Thanksgiving—American Thanksgiving, for anyone outside of the United States, or who doesn't celebrate. But this is the American Thanksgiving holiday week. We wanted to take a little different approach to this week's episode. And Amy, you were the one who kind of came up with this idea, and so that's why we forced you to join us because—

Jesse: One of us. One of us.

Pete: [laugh]. Because you had such a good idea, and we wanted to make sure that we just pulled this together and really did a Thanksgiving theme to this podcast. So, I don't know about either of you, but my family has some very clear requirements about what dishes do and do not constitute Thanksgiving. And you can always expect the turkey and the stuffing. It's just not Thanksgiving without those core components. 

Jesse: But then your cousin's boyfriend shows up with the candied vegetables that nobody asked to be candied. And, you know, you put a little bit on your plate because you want to be nice. You don't want to start World War III in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. And you say, “Oh, yeah, this is good.” But then you're definitely giving those food scraps to the dog under the table and you don't go back for seconds.

Pete: I mean, a metric ton of sugar is probably the only way to make turnips taste good.

Jesse: Yeah.

Pete: So, with that in mind, we wanted to talk about what AWS services are those core services that you expect the customers kind of using to leverage the cloud, what services would kind of represent a Thanksgiving meal? Which ones constitute the turkey, or the stuffing, or the green bean casserole which, while preparing this, there seem to be some conflicting thoughts about the quality of a green bean casserole.

Jesse: There are some hot takes. Some hot, hot, hot takes in this discussion, putting this list together.

Pete: So, I'll kick us off with an easy, softball one because why not? But it's EC2, right? This is the turkey. It's the main course. And it's also what you'll be eating three to five times a day for every day for the next week or two because you're going to have a lot extra. It's just going to be around for a long time. 

Jesse: Yeah, I feel like EC2 is one that you're going to get in some capacity, anywhere. Whether it is straight-up EC2 instances, whether it is Fargate, ECS, you're going to be using this compute resource in some capacity if you're using AWS. I don't think I know of any AWS customer that is not using some level of compute with EC2. Except for the few people who have managed to move entirely serverless to Lambda, which I am thoroughly impressed if you've been able to do that. 

Pete: So, that is actually a great one which is Amy you do a lot with the serverless community. What do you think Lambda would be as a Thanksgiving side dish?

Amy: It is the canned cranberry sauce because everyone who I hear talk about it they seem to hate it, but I love it. I love not having to work for anything. It tastes the same and the sauce itself tastes like jelly and Lambda packages everything in a way where I don't have to deal with it, and to me that makes everything else super easy.

Pete: I think it's the slow oozing out of the can it does that really kind of makes me not want to like it, and those just too perfect ridges from the form of it. But I don't know what it is about it; when you just slice through that and put it on your plate, so delicious. And don't at me with your fancy homemade cranberry sauce, whatever. None of that can hold a candle. 

So, I actually think Lambda is the special smoked turkey. Because it's a new trend. Lambda being in the new trend, serverless is a new trend. And of course, everyone who is doing a smoked turkey or has a smoker just can't stop talking about it, much like serverless. They just can't stop talking about it.

Jesse: Yeah. I mean, I think that ever since you bought your smoker, you have not stopped telling us all about the meats that you're smoking on a recurring basis.

Pete: I mean, I got a 16-pound turkey for $14, and I got turkey for days. 

Jesse: What I love is that not only do you have a smoker and you talk about it, but you have a monitoring system that you set up so that you can monitor the temperature of the smoker at any given time. 

Pete: I'm a bit of a Luddite at home. I don't like IoT powered anything because I think they're all generally terrible, but for some reason, yeah, my smoker has a little whatever, cellular—powered, connects to my wifi, but I can get to it from the app on my cell phone, can check the temperature of the turkey, out of the store running errands. “Oh, got to get home soon, my turkey’s almost done.”

Jesse: Okay, I’ve got another easy one for us. S3 is your mashed potatoes. It's good, it's on everyone's plate, there appears to always be an infinite amount of it. Everybody's going to want some. And most importantly, if you leave a bucket of it open overnight, you're going to regret it. 

Pete: Yeah, that's going to turn to glue pretty fast, not Amazon Glue, which actually if we are going to talk about Amazon Glue and Lake Formation, and that weird amalgamation of Amazon services, we actually have one for that. This is something called the piecaken, which I had never heard about until I saw an Instagram ad because that's a thing. But a piecaken is a pecan pie—pecan or pecan? Let's not, do that.

Jesse: Oh, God, don't start.

Pete: Okay. Pumpkin pie, spice cake, and an apple pie filling. It's like three pies stacked into a cake. And that's what I think of when I think about the whole Lake Formation/Glue setup when you're trying to query or analyze your data lake. 

Jesse: Yeah, my arteries just clogged hearing that description of all of those things combined together in one dessert.

Amy: It also takes several fully complete and difficult concepts, and then squishes them into one very complicated package.

Jesse: Yeah. Was that really necessary? Do we really need all of those things combined in one? 

Pete: Well, if you cover it with buttercream frosting, anything's good. So, I think that's a lesson for the teams involved with Lake Formation; your next service needs to be something related to buttercream frosting. Amy, what do you think IAM would be because that is pretty ubiquitous in the Amazon world.

Amy: Since you have to put it in everything, it may as well be the gravy.

Jesse: Yeah. Now, with the gravy, are we talking, like, full-blown giblet gravy here?

Amy: I've only ever had giblet gravy. But in researching this, there's apparently more than one kind, and everyone decides to do it differently, which I'm guessing is where all the arguments on had to do it properly comes from.

Pete: So, it really is like IAM. All of the different authentication methods, and models, and you can give access keys or cross-account roles or some sort of federation. It really is like gravy. Jesse, CloudWatch is pretty heavily used, and we were talking about the monitoring of the turkey before. Where do you think CloudWatch would fit into the Thanksgiving AWS dinner table? 

Jesse: Yeah, I feel like this one's kind of apropos to your smoked turkey. CloudWatch is definitely the deep fryer. Uncle Buck repeatedly says he knows how to use it, but ultimately ends up getting burned every single time. It doesn't matter how many times you claim what you're doing, you're always going to get burnt using this. 

Pete: All right. So, I've got a good one because I am from the Midwest; I'm from Michigan, and I feel like Midwest folks take and create some pretty horrific Thanksgiving sides. I actually looked up before this the top of worst Thanksgiving sides—

Jesse: Oh no.

Pete: And pretty much all of them is what I would expect to see at one of my family’s Thanksgivings. So, I was a little angered by that, but one thing I did agree with which is something called ambrosia salad. 

Jesse: Oh, bleh.

Pete: This is essentially a mixture of Cool Whip, which is a fake whipped cream, fruit, marshmallows, and, like, other stuff. And I think that ambrosia salad is pretty much like SimpleDB because why would you put these things together and offer it to someone else, just like SimpleDB? Why would you take and offer SimpleDB to someone else? Just, we should retire SimpleDB for the exact same reason we should retire ambrosia salad. 

Jesse: I want to say that you're going to find some diehard ambrosia salad fans out there for sure. I want to say you're going to find some diehard SimpleDB fans out there, but I don't think they exist. 

Pete: I'm waiting to get that one. I want someone to send me a message, say, “I use SimpleDB. I love SimpleDB.” I don't know, if you need a database, as you know, you should use Route 53 instead.

Jesse: Absolutely. This is probably another easy one. CloudTrail. CloudTrail is the pie. It's always ready 15 minutes after everything else is done.

Pete: Yeah. It does take some time for things to happen to actually show up in the CloudTrail. We could probably even make another case for the fact that if you eat too much pie, you're going to feel pretty terrible. And actually, if you create too many CloudTrail trails, you'll end up with a line item on your bill that is definitely not zero, and you're going to wonder why. 

Jesse: Absolutely. 

Pete: So, Amy, I think you had a pretty good one for one of the most—I don't know if it's the most obscure, but it's definitely an obscure Amazon service, the Quantum Ledger Database.

Amy: And I found this out, trying to research just the overview of Amazon services, that this is essentially a blockchain product because they list it as a blockchain product, but I have heard that it is both not a blockchain product, and useful for things that Amazon can't talk about. And my mother tries to convince me that sweet potatoes and squash are the same thing, and just in the same way that QLDB and blockchain aren't the same thing. A squash and a sweet potato are not the same thing. And just because they're same color, you cannot sneak it into my food.

Jesse: Absolutely not. I'm a big sweet potato fan and a big squash fan. But I can say those are two very distinctly different things.

Pete: I don't know. I don't eat any kind of vegetable at Thanksgiving that isn't with a marshmallow on top, I guess. We already talked about the ambrosia salad issue with my family. [laugh].

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Jesse: Speaking of squash, to me VPC endpoints are like a roasted squash. You know that there's multiple varieties, and you've definitely already had this conversation before about which one’s which and which one you want, but you can never remember. You can never remember which one is which and which one you want after you've already bought it. 

Pete: Yeah, there's too many squash names out there. 

Jesse: Yeah.

Pete: I only know there's the acorn one because it looks like what it is, like, it looks like an acorn, and then spaghetti squash… maybe butternut? I don't know. But then you got like a whole family of squashes out there. I think one of my favorite services in Amazon because every once in a while we still see it in use. And it's a subset of EC2, so you'll have to just stretch your imagination a little bit because we did say EC2 was the turkey. 

But specifically, there is a service within EC2—and this has no relation to the turkey, which is why you really need to suspend your disbelief here. But the m1.small. That is the first instance on EC2. That was from the EC2 beta, the m1.small was the first instance you could set up. 

Admittedly, that server, which you could deploy to now, what, came out in 2006? That is a old server that you are running on. If you are deployed to an m1.small. There's no earthly reason that you should be on an m1.small, for the exact same reason that you should never ever make a dish that is called apples and onions. 

And you can't really believe that that's a thing, just like you can't believe an m1.small is still a thing. And, just like with apples and onions, you're pretty sure someone who's trolling you when they say that that's an actual dish. I had to go and look it up. Amy, I think you were the one who told me about this dish, apples and onions. I couldn't believe it. And I even said like this dish must taste good if you, like, maybe caramelize it down a lot. I think, Amy, you said—

Amy: I was the one who told you that would be a way to do it, but that is not how it's made. It is made by pan-frying onions and apples together until both of them taste like onions.

Pete: Gross. So, I was horrified by this dish that I had just learned about. And you should not make that dish just like you should not use an m1.small. 

Jesse: Please, please, please, please. Yeah, if apples and onions shows up at my Thanksgiving dinner, that is not going on my plate. But one thing that I can say will go on my plate will be dinner rolls. I love bread. I am kind of addicted to the bread week episodes of every season of The Great British Baking Show. 

So, in honor of that, I would say any AWS Managed Services would be your dinner rolls. I'm personally fine with your store-bought rolls from the bakery or from your local grocer, but my sister refuses to touch any rolls unless she makes them herself. 

Pete: Out in New England, we have Parker House Rolls that is the classic Thanksgiving—well, for any meal, really, they're just delicious, but—of course, they're delicious. It's just bread covered with butter and salt. 

Jesse: Yeah, like, is it really necessary for you to make them yourself? Like I understand in the middle of a pandemic now, everybody's learned how to make their own bread, so maybe you think that you've got a leg up on the competition to make your own rolls this year, but you're already cooking a turkey, you're making sides, you're making desserts, do you really need to make your own rolls, or can you get away with the store-bought variety? 

Pete: Ain't nobody got time for that.

Amy: If there's one food that you can really get away with just not making yourself, it's going to be the bread roll because you're going to be dipping that and other stuff anyway. And just like Services, if someone else can take one thing off your plate, why wouldn't you use it? 

Pete: Absolutely. 

Amy: It’s probably cheaper than all of that.

Pete: Absolutely. Hey, Amy, what do you think EFS would end up being on the Thanksgiving table?

Amy: I love the idea of green beans, and I love the idea of casseroles, but it is the one thing that they put together, it always feels like a bad idea. And it’s, why couldn't they be separate? They don't need to be this one thing that you made. And I always feel that apprehension, like, when AWS announced EFS for Lambda, that felt weird, and that felt wrong.

Jesse: Yeah. Like I feel the same way about EFS and green bean casserole that I do about QuickSight. I really want to like it. I really do. Like, I want to give it a chance, but it just never turns out the way I want it to. 

Pete: I think you need more of those crunchy onions to put on top, and not the canned cream of mushroom soup that normally goes with the green bean casserole. 

Jesse: Yeah, those crunchy onion… straws, I think they're called. Those are heaven. 

Pete: I mean, I'll just eat those. I don't actually need the green beans or the soup. I think one of the ones that is maybe the most painful for a lot of people are the NAT Gateways. It seems… you know, that seems so easy, right? It’s NAT Gateway, you just spin it up and it just takes care of things. 

But I think it's like starting an argument with your racist uncle. Like, it might seem a good idea; you might feel like the better person that you're going to finally call them out for their behavior, and so they will hopefully stop doing that or just not coming to Thanksgiving would equally be good. So, it seems like a good idea at the time, but you're going to end up spending the rest of your evening paying for it. And that's really the case with NAT Gateway: you're going to spend the rest of your time paying for that sucker. 

Jesse: Yeah, absolutely. I always feel like I want to do this, but it's safer just to stay away.

Pete: So, Amy, Service Catalog; what do you think this would be for our Thanksgiving meal?

Amy: I brought this up because it is not heard of that I might have started a kitchen fire or two. 

Pete: [laugh].

Amy: So, by the time you have burned everything that you're supposed to serve, maybe it's just some to order takeout. Maybe you should use the work someone else did, which is what Service Catalog is great for. You use solutions that's already approved by your company, you can just spin it up into your account and not have to deal with the impending figurative fires or in my case, maybe, little fires.

Pete: Oh, awesome. I have a recollection of my childhood when my sister set our microwave on fire, trying to microwave some chocolate sauce. So, I don't know why it's still burning my memory, but that fire was really—I was just happy it wasn't me. 

Jesse: I've got one more. I would say that Beanstalk is going to be the cornbread, similar to the bread theme that I was talking about earlier. I always have high hopes for this, but 99 percent of the time it just lets me down. 

Pete: I think I'm going to end this off with a fitting last one because we have all these delicious foods, but we need somewhere to put them, and that's on our fancy dinner china that you only use this one day of the year. And we think that the fancy dinner china is as close to the io1 EBS volumes. Or maybe is it io2 now, or even the faster ones? But this is essentially, you have this fancy dinner china—or io1, io2 volumes. So, you have no idea why someone chose the most expensive delivery method possible for your meal, and you're pretty sure that you're going to break something before the night is over. That is what I think of, whatever when someone mentioned the need of an io1 or an io2 volume for their application. 

All right, well, that was a lot of dishes. I'm thoroughly hungry, which I really shouldn't be since Thanksgiving is over and I've eaten my fill.

Jesse: I want to say that I've eaten my fill. Well, let's be honest, I've eaten my fill and then some, at this point.

Pete: I still really want that piecaken. 

Jesse: Oh, God. That one's all you. I will send you a piecaken for the holidays.

Pete: [laugh]. Please don’t. The last thing I need is a giant cake in my house because I would eat it all. 

Jesse: Not only would you eat it, but then all of your kids would eat it as well, and I can only imagine their existing energy level plus that much sugar, running through your house. 

Pete: It's not a good look at all. Well, Amy, thank you for joining us. Thank you for this great idea. I had a blast. I hope everyone else did as well, listening in. 

If you enjoyed this podcast, please go to and give it a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, whereas if you hated this podcast, please go to, give it a five-star rating on your podcast platform of choice, and tell us what your favorite Thanksgiving side dish is.

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