Automic ChatOps: Collaborate and Control Your Release Automation Pipeline from One Window

Keep your work, chat and concentration together with our new chatbot for ARA - no more switching between lots of apps and losing your place

Ron Gidron
Ron Gidron, March 10, 2017 10:00 am
Blog > ChatOps | ARA | DevOps | Continuous Delivery > Automic ChatOps: Collaborate and Control Your Release Automation Pipeline from One Window

Do you ever get an email or phone call when you’re deep in concentration on a task, answer it, then lose your train of thought? This happens for almost everyone today but it’s a particular problem in DevOps, which relies on collaboration at speed. So how do we communicate effectively whilst maintaining momentum?

Where Technology Meets Culture

Successful DevOps requires a careful balance of culture and technology. One way I like to describe it is by refereeing “technical systems” and “people systems”. I mean, pizza and stand-up meetings are great but the reality is we use tools for everything when we manage and develop at scale, including collaboration.

The DevOps toolchain now includes (too?) many categories of tools for developing software, for managing networks and servers, for testing, for monitoring… the list goes on and on. So where does collaboration enter this mix? Of course there are tools for that too!

Slack, HipChat, Yammer …

There are several very popular chat platforms out there. One of the most prevalent is Slack. As influential VC Marc Andreessen said: "I have never seen [a] viral enterprise app take off like this before". Since then the platform has accumulated over 4 million active daily users, and an incredibly diverse array of 1.25 million paying customers from tech startups to large-scale enterprises. If you review the inner workings of most development teams in the world these days, you are very likely to find a chat server right in the middle of it all. HipChat is also popular and so is Yammer, and there are others. These tools have become more than just chat these days and are finding use cases in development and project management as well as IT management.

GitHub is credited with coining the term "ChatOps" back in 2013 with the creation of Hubot, its’ open source robot to automate chat rooms. ChatOps is the integration of development and operations tools into a chat platform, using a robot (a.k.a, bot) such as Hubot to mediate and facilitate activities. This complements a prevalent shift away from heavy UI products towards command line interfaces.

Many teams have now connected their chat application to their build systems to get notifications as well as query and execute processes on their build and continuous integration servers. The same applies for testing teams and test tools, support teams and support incidents and so on, and it’s nick-named “ChatOps”.

The Limitations of Chat Tools

While the most widespread use of chat integration today is getting notifications and updates by joining various chat channels, these notifications are less useful than they could be. You still have to switch in and out of chat, the complete the task in a different console or UI which slows you down and diverts the attention from the task in hand. ChatOps solves this by integrating more and more tools into the chat platform from across the DevOps toolchain. This enables teams to collaborate and do all or at least most of their delivery pipeline operational work directly in the chat window.

Companies like Google have long used chat as a complete control plane for some of their larger infrastructures and applications, and others are watching on with envy. Of course the enterprise environment applies many more constraints and raises more concerns when it comes to introducing a new control plane in terms of security, audit and compliance.

However, “water finds it way”. We see a growing number of development, support and even operations teams using chat rooms for collaboration nowadays, taking advantage of various bots to integrate information and control of tools across the software pipeline into ChatOps apps.

Automic ChatOps

Here at Automic, we’ve been fortunate to have a bot developed by our community which we have now certified as the Automic Release Automation Chatbot. The bot is available for free download on our marketplace here. Our Chatbot enables teams to seamlessly collaborate and operate Automic Release Automation from within the chat interface. This maintains context and reduces friction – it meets several DevOps objectives by reducing wastage, making automation central to every conversation.

Join my colleague Kaj Wierda and I on Wednesday 22nd March in a free webinar that will:

  • Introduce ChatOps as a control plane for DevOps
  • Give an introduction to ARA bot from Automic
  • Provide a live demonstration

Register here to reserve your place today.

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Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron is Product Marketing Director of Release Automation at Automic Software. He has spent the last 14 years in product marketing, product management and pre-sales positions in both startups and large enterprises. Ron's passion lies in the intersection of software, users and market trends.