Introduction to ChatOps

Last month I spoke at Africa DevOps on ChatOps. Many of you will be familiar with using chat channels in the DevOps space, ChatOps formalises this practice. The most common definition of ChatOps is:

… a collaboration model that connects people, tools, processes, and automation into a transparent workflow. This flow connects the work needed, the work happening, and the work done in a persistent location staffed by the people, bots, and related tools.

Almost every Engineering team these days uses ChatOps to some extent. At a minimum, the human beings in the team converse with each other about the work. On the other side of the pendulum, advanced teams are doing all their DevOps work in the ChatOps channel – everything from deployments to raising work tasks to some more advanced machine learning applications.

So, what is the value of doing work in the chat channel? There are lots of benefits, let’s explore some of them:

  • Familiarity – Most of us are already working in the chat channel, we’re familiar and comfortable with interactions in this manner
  • Concentrated data – Data and information about our interactions with each other and systems are very often fragmented over many channels. Chat provides a central place to store the interaction data and associated artefacts like documents etc.
  • Context switching – It’s well understood that context switching is very wasteful. By staying in the context of the chat channel longer, we reduce context switching. If all your interactions with systems are in the chat channel with bots that action on the appropriate systems, then context switching can be significantly reduced.
  • Process optimisation – The performance of processes actioned in the chat channel can be easily measured as all the underlying data is available

Starting ChatOps is easy. Look out for my next blog on ChatOps Maturity where I talk about how you start and the potential of where you can take ChatOps.


by Jason Suttie



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