Honeycomb: How We Used Serverless to Speed Up Our Servers

Honeycomb is the state of the art in observability: customers send us lots of data and then compose complex, ad-hoc queries. Most are simple, some are not. Some are REALLY not; this load is both complex, spontaneous, and urgent. It would be prohibitively expensive to size a server cluster to handle these big queries quickly, so we took a different approach: farm the work out to Lambda, Amazon's serverless offering.

In this model, Lambda becomes an on-demand accelerator for our always-on servers. The benefits are immense, improving response times by an order of magnitude. But the challenges are numerous and often unexpected. In this talk, I'll review the benefits (user experience on demand!) and constraints (everything in AWS has a limit!) of serverless-as-accelerator, and give practical advice based on our own hard-won experience.


Speaker

Jessica Kerr

Principal Developer Evangelist @honeycombio

Jessica Kerr (@jessitron on twitter) is fascinated by how software doesn’t get easier as she gets better at it: it gets harder, and also more valuable. Jessitron has developed software in Java, C, TypeScript, Clojure, Scala, and Ruby. She keynoted software conferences in Europe, the US, and Australia. She ran workshops on Systems Thinking (with Kent Beck) and Domain Driven Design (with Eric Evans). Now she works at Honeycomb, making complexity navigable with observability. Find her at jessitron.com, or systemsthinking.dev, or at home in St. Louis, MO.

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