re:Invent Guide: Advanced Serverless


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In the seconds following Werner’s keynote announcement of AWS Lambda at re:Invent 2014, I pronounced:

“Scalable event-driven programming without having to manage the infrastructure? Astounding possibilities” —@esh, Nov. 13, 2014

“AWS Lambda will revolutionize development. The huge AWS service ecosystem will multiply its power” —@esh, Nov. 13, 2014

The term “serverless” was not popular at the time, but this is the movement that AWS put into motion five years ago. Serverless architectures on AWS combine AWS Lambda with many other technologies, including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon API Gateway, AWS AppSync, Amazon S3, Amazon SNS, Amazon SQS, AWS Step Functions, Amazon EventBridge, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon CloudFront, AWS IoT Core, AWS Secrets Manager, and more.

In this “advanced serverless” guide to AWS re:Invent 2019, I bring to your attention some sessions that can help you get up to speed with the latest news and advances, sharpen your knowledge and skills, and add to your serverless toolbox. You won’t be able to attend them all in person, but these will be recorded and available for viewing shortly after.

Recommended Sessions

Sessions not in the serverless track

Let’s start by looking at some sessions that don’t start with the “SVS” code in the AWS re:Invent session catalog, but have good serverless content.

Leadership session: What’s new in compute? ›

I always recommend attending the re:Invent leadership sessions in the areas you care about. Though it isn’t, strictly speaking, an advanced-level talk, the AWS compute leadership session with Matt Garman is likely to include new AWS serverless service/feature announcements that you may want to hear.


Serverless architectural patterns and best practices ›

Heitor Lessa gives this critical talk for anybody building applications using serverless technologies. A great walk-through of solutions that will fit the various problems you need to solve. No need to reinvent architectures that have already been tested and proven in practice.


Serverless SaaS deep dive: Building serverless SaaS on AWS ›

This expert-level presentation covers the unique challenges of building serverless SaaS services, including a number of considerations for multi-tenant support.


Under the hood: How Amazon builds resilient services at any scale ›

Though not focused exclusively on serverless, Marc Booker’s talk will include insight into how AWS builds and runs services using a number of serverless technologies. “How Amazon builds…” talks are always fascinating and popular.


Scalable serverless architectures using event-driven design ›

In this advanced session from the application integration track, Fernando Dingler, Luay Kawasme, and Roy Richardson delve into how Amazon SQS works with AWS Lambda. By learning the internals of how these two systems integrate, you’ll get good optimization tips for tuning your serverless apps to scale.


Reducing blast radius with cell-based architectures ›

I had to look up “cell-based architectures” and am intrigued, especially when I see the scale that Vignesh Janakiraman and Karthik Kumar Odapally are going to discuss achieving with this pattern. It’s all built with AWS serverless technologies, so check this out and build more resilient systems.

400-level serverless-category sessions

Expert sessions at the 400 level often skip right past the introductory basics and dive into highly technical content, frequently with code on-screen.

Optimizing your serverless applications ›

This fast-moving talk by Chris Munns covers a wide range of expert-level topics related to making great serverless applications. I predict you will leave with more than a handful of valuable techniques and ideas that you can use to improve your applications.


Networking best practices for serverless applications ›

I’ve always struggled with advanced networking concepts, but if anybody can present it clearly, it’s Nicki Stone, so I look forward to this expert-level session that digs into when and how we need to care about networking with AWS Lambda.


Building APIs from front to back ›

In this session, API expert Eric Johnson will explore the powers of Amazon API Gateway. In addition to covering the standard “serverless” use of AWS Lambda functions, Eric will present “functionless” architectures where Amazon API Gateway integrates directly with AWS services without writing AWS Lambda code.


Best practices for AWS Lambda and Java ›

Looking to reduce cold starts in your Java AWS Lambda functions? Stefano Buliani has some approaches for you to consider. Plus, you’ll get more expert-level tips on using Java in serverless environments.

300-level serverless-category sessions

The 300-level advanced sessions may start with an overview and introduction to the topic for folks who aren’t entirely familiar, but they quickly get into technical details that you can chew on for a while.

A serverless journey: AWS Lambda under the hood ›

Any session that includes Holly Mesrobian or Marc Booker is a must—this talk includes both! Last year’s version of this presentation was a big hit, and this year’s edition is sure to be just as engaging and informative.


Moving to event-driven architectures ›

I’ve loved event-driven development ever since I helped build a satellite communications system back in the ’80s. In this expert-level talk, popular re:Invent speaker Tim Bray expounds on building event-driven systems using AWS serverless technologies in 2019 and beyond.


Meet AWS SAM ›

We all love CLIs, especially when combined with infrastructure as code. Despite the current introductory nature of the session title, Alex Wood will be digging into some more advanced techniques for developing serverless applications with AWS SAM.


Building microservices with AWS Lambda ›

AWS Lambda can be integrated in many application contexts, including stream processing, event triggers, batch jobs, database functions, and more. In this talk, Chris Munns focuses on how AWS Lambda can be used to implement microservices, including patterns for rapid development and testing.


Serverless at scale: Design patterns and optimizations ›

Not all serverless applications scale seamlessly. In this advanced-level session, Roberto Iturralde addresses common issues you might experience as your load grows and how to solve them.


Serverless stream processing pipeline best practices ›

If you have streams of data that you are having trouble managing and analyzing, attend this talk by Justin Pirtle, who will address ingesting, storing, analyzing, and using serverless technologies.


Securing enterprise-grade serverless apps ›

Though serverless makes it possible to increase the security of our applications, we still have responsibilities in this area. In this session, George Mao and Gerardo Estaba focus on security with Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda.


Architecting and operating resilient serverless systems at scale ›

In this session, David Yanacek explains the highly sophisticated techniques Amazon uses to build the AWS services we as customers depend on to be highly scalable, reliable, and resilient.

Advanced serverless chalk talks

Some great advanced serverless content at AWS re:Invent can be found in the interactive chalk talk session format. Please note that chalk talks are not recorded and the room size for each session is small (perhaps 50 to 75 people), so be sure to reserve your seat early: re:Invent advanced and expert serverless chalk talks

Advanced serverless workshops

The advanced serverless workshops are longer, hands-on sessions that also fill up quickly and are not recorded. Make sure you bring your laptop, charger, and an open AWS account: re:Invent advanced and expert serverless workshops

Advanced serverless builders sessions

Folks who feel really lucky may try to reserve a seat in one of the advanced serverless builders sessions (not recorded). Each of these sessions has room for up to six attendees, and the participants work directly with an AWS expert who helps them experiment and build on AWS using their laptops: re:Invent Advanced and Expert Serverless Builders Sessions

Dev chats in the Developer Lounge (Venetian Expo)

When you visit the Expo in the Venetian, swing by the Developer Lounge. Dev Chat talks (not recorded) will be held here throughout the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Many of these chats have serverless content, including the ones by Eri Miller, Farrah Campbell and Danielle Heberling, Jonathan LaCour, Michael Wittig, Omar Khurshid, Steve Bjorg, and Sukanya Mandal. No need to reserve seats!

I’ll see you in the halls at AWS re:Invent 2019!

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