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ChatOps Advantages for Incident Management

Dan Holloran May 09, 2018

DevOps ChatOps Collaboration

People are the true bread and butter of incident management and the DevOps movement. Tools are good, but when tools are used to make your people better—they’re amazing! Empowering incident management teams with ChatOps tools drastically improves communication.

ChatOps tools offer some of the most important advantages of incident management operations. Communication is the one constant throughout all five parts of the incident management lifecycle. Optimizing ChatOps and incident management can be a key factor in reaching faster times to acknowledgment and resolution.

Integrated ChatOps

Your incident management stack is likely—well—stacked. You’ll implement a number of monitoring, alerting, automation, and data visualization integrations that work together to benefit your team and make incident remediation easier. Your ChatOps tools should integrate well with these other tools too. Receiving the information you need, while simultaneously collaborating with teammates, creates a cohesive environment where incidents can efficiently be identified, diagnosed, escalated, and resolved. Ideally, every step and point of communication during the incident lifecycle should get addressed and recorded in one place.

Manual vs. Automated Tools

ChatOps tools can either be manual or automated. When you’re creating an internal communication infrastructure, you’ll likely develop a hybrid model of manual and automated ChatOps. With each tool implemented, simply think about how it will make people’s lives easier.

Your tools can help people avoid the same conversation multiple times or make communication faster and more collaborative across multiple teams. Be cognizant of the potential advantages and risks when choosing automation versus manual ChatOps tools for your team.

Chatbots and Automation

Chatbots can be used to automate conversations as well as trigger processes both internally and externally. For instance, VictorOps uses simple Hubot scripts to trigger fake incidents during demos. We also use Hubot to quickly deploy bug fixes.

Chatbot tools are customizable and can greatly improve team workflows and speed. Directly through chat, you can execute commands, trigger events, and of course, communicate. In addition to Hubot, there are a number of other automated chat tools that can benefit your teams. Automating ChatOps processes saves time from executing manual menial tasks and creates more time for people to work on other projects.

Manual ChatOps Tools

You’re probably most familiar with more simple, user-friendly chat tools such as Slack, HipChat, or Microsoft Teams. While there can be some automation running in the background, the key advantage of these applications is they make human communication more effective.

People need to be able to communicate across multiple channels and receive contextual alerts anywhere. For this reason, other traditional ChatOps tools (e.g., phone, email, and text messaging) are also highly beneficial to DevOps teams. This gives your team the flexibility, data, and communication they need to collaborate and quickly resolve incidents.The best ChatOps infrastructures help team members quickly receive actionable alerts and communicate through multiple different avenues.

Important ChatOps Functionality to Look For:

Informative, Actionable Messaging

Chat tools should integrate well with your monitoring and alerting tools. Communicating in one location while also viewing system data and metrics makes incident detection and resolution much easier.

Bi-Directional Capability

The capability to share messages and information between different tools is advantageous to productivity. People are constantly working in and out of a number of applications and tools. So, making communication accessible and actionable across your whole ChatOps toolchain allows more cross-functional collaboration and improves operational agility.

User Tracking and Control

The ability to track communication associated with who is performing what task, from which application, can show the larger picture of an incident’s history. After the fact, this allows teams to create more detailed post-incident reviews and make communication improvements for the future.

Interactive Commands

Interactivity in your ChatOps tools is the next step up from simply communicating. Being able to run scripts, retrieve information when you need it, or acknowledge/resolve incidents directly from chat allows for faster incident detection, acknowledgment, and remediation. Combining real-time communication and incident interactivity in your workflow creates huge ChatOps advantages.

VictorOps has hundreds of monitoring, alerting, and ChatOps integrations to stack your incident management toolchain with everything you need. Download our ChatOps eBook to see the advantages of using ChatOps tools with VictorOps incident management.

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