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Advanced Serverless Applications at The New York Times

May 2019 Presentation
Darren McCleary (The New York Times)

This presentation dives into The New York Times' journey to serverless computing and work done to advance the state of the art of serverless tools and architectures.


Software Engineering Institute




When The New York Times decided to sunset its data centers and become 100% cloud based, it required rethinking how applications were designed, built, and hosted. Starting with the Crosswords platform and sweeping across the company, cloud functions and platforms like Google AppEngine have quickly become preferred tools among developers. This talk will dive into the journey toward serverless computing, the applications and patterns in production today, the issues faced and overcome, and work done to advance the state of the art of serverless tools and architectures.

Topics to be addressed:

  • Overcoming the serverless hypebeast and getting engineers to take it seriously
  • The serverless spectrum and where different problems fall on it
  • How to manage secrets and security in a "stateless" environment
  • What "stateless" really means and when it applies
  • Pricy mistakes and cost controls

The Times employs an RFC process for any reasonably sized new systems or any new technologies a team desires to use within the company. RFCs are distributed to the entire technical organization and reviewed by our Architecture Review Board (which I sit on). The ARB is made up of senior engineers from a wide selection of teams. The ARB often also guides the writing of RFCs before they're made public to the rest of the company. The ARB ultimately provides feedback on the proposals with a focus on business value and best practices.