Passing the “Is it Working?” Test with Serverless Architectures Is Not Enough

Efficient debugging in AWS is something you must constantly strive for.

Paul Singman
Dec 11, 2020 · 5 min read

Setting the Scene

Say you are an awesome developer sitting contentedly at your desk when a Slack message suddenly interrupts your peaceful mental flow:

Setting up the Problem

What this Activity History service does is calculate and then expose counts of how many times users have used the company’s application.

  1. Is the Lambda function backing the API returning successfully?
  2. What value is stored in the DynamoDB table for this user?
  3. Is the Lambda function that validates data and writes to Dynamo experiencing any issues?
  4. How is the performance of the Kinesis Data Stream that triggers the Lambda?
  5. And are there any errors or latency in the Lambda ingesting data and writing to Kinesis?

Make no mistake…

AWS deserves praise for creating the services that enable such functionality to be possible in the first place. However, we can also admit that the out-of-the-box monitoring tools like CloudWatch Logs and Metrics don’t make debugging tasks like the one delineated above easy.

If your browser tabs look like this, you’re not doing it right.

What’s the Solution?

The issue is that for each debugging step, there’s an isolated log group or metric graph to inspect, and frankly you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to pull up each one in a separate browser tab to identify the location of the issue.

Total Invocations, Invocation Errors, or Average Duration metrics on a single pane.

The Moral of the Story

If you are a developer of an application or data pipeline using serverless architectures, it can be exciting to get your first project up and running. The beauty of the modern cloud is how you can stitch together resources like an artist to achieve functionality in a seamless, integrated way.

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Whispering Data is a Medium publication for all the data & productivity secrets you wish you knew years ago!

Paul Singman

Written by

DevRel @lakeFS. Ex-ML Engineering Lead @Equinox. Whisperer of data and productivity wisdom. Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Whispering Data

Whispering Data is a Medium publication for all the data & productivity secrets you wish you knew years ago!

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