Collaboration Improvements in DevOps Tools

Tara Calihman - August 06, 2014

While our stated objective here at VictorOps is  to make on-call suck less, we’re also tackling the more specific problem of effective IT collaboration. How can we help teams work together better in a firefight? Certain aspects of collaboration, like on-call management look easy when compared to the “people” problem of DevOps - how do you allow for remote participation and enable people on different teams to be more effective?

It starts with looking at IT team collaboration from a high level. There are different types of collaborating - asynchronous vs synchronous, vertical vs horizontal - and different DevOps tools that address each method. We’ll start by breaking down the ways that people collaborate.

Asynchronous Collaboration

Takes place outside of real-time. The best example is email. You send the email and the receiver has time to digest the information. This is useful most of the time, but is inadequate as a means of communicating a sense of urgency.

Synchronous Collaboration

Resembles a face-to-face interaction. The best example is IM or live chat. The immediate benefit is the ability to send & receive information quickly. This method tends to provide a more effective means of working together to solve issues in real-time.

The other defining aspect of collaboration is whether it’s vertical or horizontal. Don’t worry - we’ll explain.

Vertical Collaboration

Consists of domain-specific tools, which are built for certain parts of the business. Examples include Salesforce for sales & marketing or Rally for the Dev team.

Horizontal Collaboration

Consists of non-domain-specific tools. These tools have potential use across all teams of an organization. Examples include project management tools like Campfire or remote meeting solutions like or WebEx. These tend to be widely adopted but lack the ability to go very deep in helping domain-specific problems.


VictorOps was created because there was no existing vertical collaboration platform for DevOps teams. Our founders wanted to solve a problem they’d experienced previously and therefore already knew the exact requirements needed. The IT collaboration  platform would have to be mobile first, would have to allow for synchronous engagement while enabling asynchronous problem-solving, and would have to give all participants symmetrical access to information from their enterprise monitoring platform.

What we’ve realized after using VictorOps to solve our own internal development issues is that vertical collaboration gives team members the opportunity for scalable “leaning in” while also providing the freedom to “lean out” to reflect. What’s not to love about a DevOps tool that does all that?