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Chat Clients, ChatOps, and DevOps Working Together

Dan Holloran November 19, 2018

DevOps ChatOps Collaboration
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Everyone communicates through multiple channels throughout the day. In our chat clients, automation and manual communication are becoming more and more intertwined. Chat applications can be used to provide automation via ChatOps in-line with the DevOps workflows your team is already using.

As one of the core tenets of a DevOps culture, automation can help improve operational efficiency and help teams focus on driving business value. An effective use of chat clients, ChatOps, and DevOps will bring automation and collaboration together–speeding up the software development and incident lifecycles. Bring workflows to where people are already working and communicating–their chat applications.

Let’s first define what we mean by chat clients, ChatOps, and DevOps in this context, look at some examples of each, and then we’ll break down how they work together.

Defining Chat Clients, ChatOps, and DevOps

While chat applications, ChatOps, and DevOps work well together and are frequently interconnected, teams aren’t always taking full advantage of them all. Chat clients should be fully integrated with people’s workflows and allow you to build automation into operational processes. Let’s define what we mean when we mention chat clients, ChatOps, and DevOps:

Chat Client: An application or service where people can chat and share information in real-time (e.g. Slack, HipChat, or Microsoft Teams).

ChatOps: The ability to run commands or automate tasks directly through chat clients, frequently in-line with human communication. (e.g. Hubot, Lita, Errbot, Cog, or Yetibot)

DevOps: A methodology for tightening the gap between software developers and IT operations to speed up software delivery and the incident lifecycle.

As you can see, each function flows directly into the next. You could have chat clients set up and your team could be communicating quite effectively, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re optimizing the efficiency of your workflows. By adding the automation and speed of ChatOps, you’re helping connect your chat clients with a culture of DevOps–driving faster software development and incident management.

Collaborate With ChatOps

Centralizing the Three

A simple understanding of chat clients, ChatOps, and DevOps doesn’t explain how you should implement them though. Building a culture of DevOps collaboration and accountability starts long before you implement a chat client with ChatOps capability. So, first things first–organize your teams, build processes, and get people working cross-functionally to improve collaboration and deepen visibility into your service’s health. Of course, chat clients make this easier, but the real process for making DevOps a reality is in your organization’s core values.

You should only start thinking about tooling once you’ve figured out how to hire great DevOps-minded people and built processes conducive to development speed and system reliability. What kinds of tools will make workflows easier for your people? What tools can you use to improve collaboration and automate tasks? This is where chat clients come in. A helpful chat client will work well with automated chatbots to execute orders while also improving human communication.

By centralizing workflows through a chat client, you can improve visibility into DevOps processes and simplify the execution of commands and automation. Then, you can use your chat client as a single source of truth for not only human-to-human communication but for automated tasks, software development, and incident response workflows. A centralized history of all chat, delivery, and incident data will help teams identify problems faster and take action quickly.

Deepening Collaboration Before, During, and After

Automation for the sake of automation isn’t always helpful. But, when automation is intelligently built into chat clients and DevOps processes via ChatOps, it can make a world of difference.

From product roadmap planning to feature release, ChatOps can automate tasks throughout the entire CI/CD and incident management pipeline to help engineers and IT operations teams focus on work that truly matters. And, in a centralized chat client, everyone on the team can see exactly what was deployed, when it was pushed live, and how the process was executed–all in-line with human-to-human conversations. Then, if you’ve identified an incident, you could potentially use ChatOps to fix the problem by initiating a deployment rollback or a server restart directly from your chat client.

Chat clients are simply a mechanism for delivering ChatOps and DevOps value. But, with effective implementation of ChatOps in your chat client, you can optimize DevOps workflows and improve processes throughout the entire software delivery lifecycle. Then, if something breaks, you can leverage the speed and ease of ChatOps to run commands in your chat client and provide visibility across the entire organization, all at once.

VictorOps helps you centralize incident workflows and combine the power of chat clients, ChatOps, and DevOps–all in one place. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see how we’ll help you deepen collaboration, speed up incident response, and build more reliable software.

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