Two weeks ago was Cloudflare’s birthday week, during which they tend to release new features. This year was no exception, and I’m taking a look at their new Workers Sites. In addition, AWS launches IQ, which is basically experts as a service.
Cloudflare Workers Sites
While far from the only time they do releases, Cloudflare has gotten into the habit of grouping some of their more significant announcements in their birthday week. While I will quickly discuss a couple of these, I highly recommend you read their wrap-up post to see if there is anything in there you might find interesting.
The feature I find most interesting is Workers Sites. Two years ago, Cloudflare released Workers as a way to run serverless code at the edge1. They’ve since expanded on that by allowing you to store state in a key-value store2 and Workers Sites takes this to the next step by allowing you to host your static sites directly at the edge.
Considering this very site runs from S3, the concept of hosting static sites on a storage tier obviously isn’t new. What is new though, is that it is stored immediately and directly at the edge location. Let’s use this site as a comparison. As mentioned, the static files are on S3, and it then uses Cloudfront to cache these at edge locations. As a caching layer, Cloudfront only stores a file (and thereby speeding it up) after the first time it has been requested and even then expires it again after a while. In contrast, Workers Sites works as if you store all of the files directly in Cloudfront.
It is definitely something I want to try out with an actual site soon, even if it’s just to compare the experience (both for visitors to the site and myself) to my current setup.
AWS IQ is a new service from AWS meant to connect you with third-party experts and have them carry out tasks. At the moment this means you can hire someone to teach you about AWS, have them design your infrastructure, set up your services, help you migrate an environment, or get them to help you with the billing.
This is… an interesting service. It’s also not meant for me. Considering my job is to do the kind of things offered by IQ, I’m unlikely to use its services. And as I’m not a resident of the USA, I also can’t offer my services that way. Not that, I suspect, my employer would have been thrilled by my doing so anyway. That doesn’t mean I feel one way or another about how this all works.
My main concern with the service is basically the core of it: the experts. Now, the first issue with this is that it’s limited to experts from the USA. No, I don’t mean that in the way of “I can’t join up for this”. I mean it in that I suspect a lot of potential customers around the world would prefer (or are required) that people who work on their systems speak the same language, are in a similar timezone, are subject to the same laws, or any other reason they might have for wanting someone local.
Secondly, especially at the start, it will be hard to see if someone is truly an expert. It’s unclear exactly what (if any) criteria AWS uses for determining you’re an expert aside from having certifications. Because, while the certifications offer a nice baseline, they don’t necessarily reflect that someone has experience doing what hire them for.
Also, the breadth of different types of services is another issue here. Someone can be great at setting up services, but that doesn’t mean they’re a great teacher. Unfortunately, you can’t know that until after you’ve hired them. Yes, these issues can be negated a bit in the interview process, and over time the public reviews of experts will reflect some of this.
Which brings me to the last point I want to raise. In many ways, this is similar to an app store. Obviously, the scale is smaller, as is what is offered. It will still have some of the same issues, though. There will be people who try to cheat the system3, there might be some discovery issues4, and there is always the possibility of a race to the bottom for prices5.
All that said, I do think it’s good to have a service like this. For freelancers, in particular, this can offer a lot of value in finding projects to work on and can always lead to more significant opportunities. So yes, if you are eligible to become an expert6, I would say sign up and see if it works for you. As far as I can tell, there are no costs associated to it, so it will only cost you a bit of time.
Speaking of experts, here are some of the latest blog posts from the AWS Ambassadors7.
- Analyze ClickStream Data — Journey From DynamoDB to RedShift
- CloudWatch Custom Log Filter Alarm For Kinesis Load Failed Event
- Building a Serverless Email Document Extraction Solution with AWS Textract: Part 1 - Overview
- RedShift Unload All Tables To S3
- If your familiar with AWS, but not as much Cloudflare, think of this as Lambda@Edge. There are some differences, but the high-level concept is similar. [return]
- Named Workers KV in what is now a clear naming pattern. [return]
- For example, it’s not that hard to have your friends pay for your services and leave a very positive review. [return]
- If you become an expert a year from now, you won’t have the reviews those who join at the start have. [return]
- Which helps neither the customers or experts, as it will result in rush jobs. [return]
- I’m sorry, I almost made it to the end but it turns out I can’t let this go after all. Yes, I understand the term matches what they want here, but calling everyone an expert sounds as silly as an Apple Store Genius. [return]
- Yes, you could say a similar thing about ambassador as expert. However, as I like being in the program, I won’t. [return]