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What is ChatOps

A few days ago, one of my friends, who is a part of the DevOps team, was reporting his work on a bot called SlackBot. This bot simply asked him three questions:

  1. What did you do today?
  2. What are you planning to do tomorrow?
  3. Do you have any blockers/issues that you want to report?

Based on his responses, the bot triggered other downstream workflows to complete the cycle.

This, right here, is one of the many simple examples wherein the bot is integrated into the internal processes/workflows for effective team collaboration. The term that is coined for such a responsive bot is ChatOps.

To understand what ChatOps is, it’s important for you to have a fair understanding of what ChatBots are. ChatBots, the product of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, was first used as a virtual customer care agent. But over the years, it has been transformed and evolved into a whole new level called ChatOps, which has significantly helped many enterprises in changing/optimizing their internal processes.

While ChatBots are being engaged by the enterprises to talk with their clients, ChatOps enable leveraging ChatBots that help in the communication or collaboration of people within the company.

When your organization is ready to kick off a new project, finalize the next year's budget, deploy some code to an environment, fix some issues on the server, review sales contracts, measure a disaster recovery plan, etc, ChatOps come in handy. With literally everything being cooked under one hood, ChatOps are all about the people bringing more use cases to evolve, grow, and become robust. In order to achieve this, it would be crucial to integrate your tools, workflows, and more importantly, the people with the ChatBot.

Let’s see how you can start developing a ChatBot in your organization.

Simple steps to implement ChatOps in your organization:

  1. Select a chat platform
  2. Organize your apps/processes/teams into groups
  3. Choose/design a chatbot
  4. Get required community scripts, integrations, and plugins
  5. Write your own scripts and deploy them to the bot
  6. Make that cultural shift and help everyone in getting aboard
  7. Secure your ChatOps framework

It would be safe to say that ChatOps is completely capable of bringing about a cultural change in the organization rather than a shift in technology. In order to get the teams started in embracing ChatOps, it's important to design and configure it in the way that works best for your organization. It would also help in diverting the team’s energies into larger and better prospects.

Companies like GitHub, Box, and StackStorm have set examples of how they have embraced the ChatOps process in their continuous delivery pipelines to improve their time-to-market. With notifications, actions, and diagnosis happening in full view and in a single thread, ChatOps has increased transparency among the teams significantly. With the desired cultural mindset and access controls in place, ChatOps implementation will bring power to your people while ensuring security.