AWS Experience

19 April 2020

A job came through and experience with each of these services offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS):

CLOUDFORMATION, ROUTE 53, EC2, S3, SSM, RDS, EFS, SES, SNS, CLOUDFRONT, LAMBDA

You start to doubt yourself. You’ve only interacted with some of those services via terraform and via other people. But you stick your hand up to help anyway because no one else is.

You sit through over two hours of induction. Your first interaction with the customer is in a virtual reality world on a very green, very fake Swiss mountainside. The customer, a LEGO-like figure, floats towards you with huge cartoon eyes and a static, pixellated smile. The project is over-budget and over-due. The big bright eyes and smiley face stare keep staring at you while a tense and stressed voice explains the situation.

The front-end developer joined the room to speak with us all. Their microphone isn’t working.

I never wondered what a troubleshooting session looks like in virtual reality. Nor did I ever wonder what a boss would look like being critical of an employee in virtual reality. But there I was.

If your microphone isn’t working, you’re simply going to have to type to us.

BEEP

Joining the rooms isn’t working.

What do you mean isn’t working? We are going to have to get better at reporting errors. This is not good enough. You’re a developer.

BEEP

It loads and then crashes.

Eventually the developer leaves and says they would speak tomorrow.

The next day, the so-called knowledge transfer session is a demo of how to run a CloudFormation (CF) template via the AWS console in a web browser. For this project, this means copy and pasting values out of a spreadsheet into a web form. Luckily I ignored the earlier request to delete the CF stack, since the values in the spreadsheet hadn’t been updated with the values in the web form.

During the meeting I extracted the values from the spreadsheet into a plain text file, and wrote a tiny AWK script which turns the simple key-value pairs into the JSON object that the aws(1) CLI requires. The customer recorded the entire 1.5 hour meeting as a video. Here is my “knowledge transfer session” in less than 140 bytes:

aws cloudformation create-stack --stack-name VRWorld --template-url https://example.com/vrworld.json --parameters file://params.json

Any of my colleagues can read that and work out what is going on. Bonus: no more spreadsheet to keep updated.

To other IT “professionals” it may not be surprising at this stage to learn that I was handed the root account credentials of another customer’s AWS account. That’s the customer of the big-eyed smiley thing that continued to yap away.


You read back over the job description and experience required:

CLOUDFORMATION, ROUTE 53, EC2, S3, SSM, RDS, EFS, SES, SNS, CLOUDFRONT, LAMBDA

Of course, what you really did have nothing to do with any of those services, but you look forward to adding these keywords to your resume anyway.

Copyright 2010-2020 Oliver Lowe. All rights reserved.