5 Takeaways from ServerlessConf

I had the great privilege of speaking at ServerlessConf in Austin a couple of weeks ago. The conference is a community event run by the fine folks at A Cloud Guru, but you’d never know that they do other things with their time besides plan conferences, because the logistics were practically flawless. Perfect size (about 400 attendees), great food and a cool venue near downtown Austin made for a fun couple of days. Both the quality of sessions and the technical chops of attendees seemed exceptionally high, leading to lots of thought-provoking content and productive hallway conversations. The only negative comment I have about the event was the pacing – the organizers found a way to cram forty sessions into just two days, and the human brain can only absorb so much information before starting to check out.

Fortunately, all the sessions are now available on YouTube for further review. Here are my top five takeaways from the conference, as well as a few of my favorite sessions.

1. In the land of “No Ops”, ops is still king

Creating an app with serverless technologies is superficially easy, but actually deploying, testing, monitoring and debugging that app in production can be a nightmare. Without insight into the underlying services, you have less control over what breaks and less ability to fix it, and the ecosystem of tools that might help is still pretty thin. Nobody puts their finger better on this problem than DevOps legend Charity Majors, whose session was a rambling, electrifying rant on the folly of assuming that “going serverless” means you don’t have to think about traditional ops considerations anymore. If anything, getting rid of the in-house ops team removes the veil between developers and their own code: if something you wrote stops working in production, you’d better be prepared to fix it yourself. Unless you’ve hit a problem in the underlying services, in which case your app is completely beholden to somebody else’s dev cycle – a very real possibility that is not to be brushed off lightly.

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5 Takeaways from ServerlessConf