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What is ChatOps? And Why Do I Care?

Kelsey Loughman September 23, 2019

DevOps ChatOps Collaboration
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The culmination of CI/CD, cloud-based applications and infrastructure, and DevOps-oriented teams are leading to faster delivery of more complex systems. With rapid development and faster release schedules, there’s more risk and a higher chance for failure. But, keeping up with competitors in today’s software landscape depends on the ability to deploy features quickly and reliably. Automation, collaboration and visibility manifest themselves in ChatOps processes – improving the overall efficiency of DevOps-oriented organizations and traditional IT operations.

ChatOps is a way to connect humans with the processes and technical systems they work with. It allows operations and engineering teams to communicate with their applications and infrastructure in the same way they communicate with teammates. From one central collaboration tool such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, engineers and IT professionals alike can talk to each other, work cross-functionally and run operations and commands directly through chat. This creates a real-time system for managing production incidents while automatically maintaining detailed documentation of communication and process during an incident.

Let’s take a deeper look at what ChatOps is and how DevOps-centric organizations can use it to streamline software delivery and incident management processes.

What is ChatOps exactly?

ChatOps is the streamlined use of chat applications and communication services to run development and operations functions and commands in-line with human collaboration.

While ChatOps is mostly thought of as using chat tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate and execute scripts and commands, ChatOps can also be leveraged through phone systems, text messages, and email. The type of ChatOps you implement will depend on the type of service you build and maintain. You could even take advantage of ChatOps automation in customer-facing applications and use it to improve customer interactions with your products and services.

Although it’s not a traditional IT operations use case for ChatOps, automated phone call routing systems could be thought of as a form of ChatOps. If a customer dials in, they select different numbers or say different words to trigger actions in your service. If a customer says a specific phrase or word, maybe that automatically kicks off an alert to a customer support team or an engineering team involved with the upkeep of a certain feature.

ChatOps creates intuitive workflows between technical applications and infrastructure and the people supporting them. So, why is it that DevOps-forward organizations are more likely to take advantage of ChatOps than traditional IT operations teams? Well, let’s look at the benefits of ChatOps and why they fit so well into the core DevOps principles.

Creating a Culture of Reliability

Why are DevOps-oriented teams using ChatOps?

DevOps teams are focused on the continuous improvement of three things above all else – collaboration, transparency and automation. ChatOps isn’t an end-all-be-all solution to improving these aspects of software delivery and incident management but they can certainly help. ChatOps builds an avenue for cross-functional engineering and IT collaboration and visibility across all workflows through software delivery and incident management. Everyone can see who has done what and communicate in real-time to find solutions quickly.

In DevOps, anything that can be automated will be. ChatOps gives DevOps businesses the opportunity to automate numerous functions and tasks directly through chat. IT professionals can automatically initiate actions based on application and infrastructure health – directly from chat. By executing commands and scripts in the same place that everyone talks, there’s extended visibility across all teams to all of the changes being made in production. This allows people who may not even be responding to the current issue to stay exposed to production and better plan their development and release schedules.

Combining automation with collaboration

Automation and collaboration work hand-in-hand. The processes you automate will lead to more collaborative workflows in incident response and incident management. The faster you can not only notify on-call responders to a production incident but also let them execute incident remediation strategies, the more resilient your services will be. ChatOps combines the best of human communication with the best of automated DevOps workflows. Restart servers or deploy fixes to production directly from a chat tool – not only implementing a fix quickly but informing others of what’s happening in real-time.

ChatOps is changing the way developers and IT operations spread knowledge throughout the software delivery pipeline and improve the visibility into all applications and infrastructure. A single source of truth for all incident response improves the way teams collaborate when managing incidents and restoring services. Consistent upkeep and improvement to chatbots and automation tools will give DevOps teams the tools they need to detect incidents quickly, respond to them and remediate them – leading to happier customers and more revenue.

Real-time operations through chat

DevOps engineers already live in Slack. The team is constantly communicating through real-time chat applications and managing software development and incident pipelines. So, why wouldn’t you try to send important incident data into one location where people can automate processes and collaborate around the information. ChatOps creates a system for real-time operations, helping DevOps and IT teams spend less time creating tickets and navigating through them, and more time fixing real problems.

Learn more about ChatOps automation and collaboration in a centralized tool for incident response and remediation. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of VictorOps or request a free personalized demo to see how you can integrate monitoring tools, chat tools and automated alerting to make on-call suck less.

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