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We have Chatbot in the team - ChatOps in practice

30.8.2019 | LCloud
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ChatOps is a pattern of behaviour that integrates chat users, chatbots and communication tools to improve the flow of information and perform tasks and operations related to project management.

In the ChatOps environment, a chat is the main communication channel for day-to-day work. Tools already used by programmers and operational managers are integrated with the cooperating communication environment to improve the tracking of notifications and automatic response to incidents. ChatOps owes its name to GitHub team, where it had its origins, who was working on Hubot (an open-source chatbot to help with DevOps practices).

Source: https://hubot.github.com/

Having an idea of what ChatOps is, let’s focus on the elements that make it up. These are primarily tools. There are three main categories of tools for implementing ChatOpso’s work environment:

  • Notification systems offered by suppliers such as PagerDuty Inc. or xMatters.
  • Chatbots, such as AWS Chatbot or Githubowy Hubot.
  • Chat space integration tools such as Slack and Atlassian HipChat.
There are many ways to implement the ChatOps environment. One of them is the notification system sending an alert about the event, and in response, the chat client uses a plugin or a custom script to execute the programmed command. Automation of repetitive, manual tasks can eliminate human errors, and the collaboration environment provides immediate visibility and documentation of occurring events. This approach is ensured by a real-time and historical log of activities in the ChatOps environment, which also supports compliance with regulations and security.

AWS Chatbot

Amazon Web Services, as a leader among cloud providers, actively supports developing technological trends. Opposite ChatOps needs is introduced by AWS Chatbot service. Currently available in beta. Facilitates AWS resource monitoring and interaction through Slack and Amazon Chime. With AWS Chatbot, you can receive alerts and get diagnostic information from services such as AWS Health, AWS Budgets, Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon CloudWatch and AWS Security Hub.

Benefits of implementing AWS Chatbot are:

  • Receive ongoing notifications of operational incidents and other events from supported sources, such as operational alerts, security alerts or budget deviations.
  • Predefined AWS identity and access management policy templates in chat space.
  • Integrated with Slack and Amazon Chime.
  • AWS Chatbot is available free of charge. You only pay for the AWS resources you use, e.g. SNS topics, CloudWatch alerts, etc.
  • Downloading diagnostic information – the feature is not available in the beta version but will be launched in the near future.

To start using AWS Chatbot, it is worth looking into the documentation, where step by step we will find a way to configure it. AWS Chatbot extends the communication tools that the team working on the project already use on a daily basis to coordinate and connect, and thus improves its implementation.

Benefits of implementing the ChatOps environment

The benefits that the ChatOps work environment brings to the organization are mainly related to the culture of work and, in the next, to the technological benefits that improve the process of the organization itself.

Firstly, it is more effective and better cooperation. An integrated place through which everyday communication in the team goes through, allows for efficient and effective communication, supports cooperation, gives a boost to new ideas and increases team performance.

Secondly, the onboarding process is faster and more efficient. As you know, the implementation process is quite an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Thanks to the history on chat channels and the exchange of knowledge, new team members through active thread tracking can better understand the essence of the organization’s work culture and move to daily duties faster.

Thirdly, ChatOps allows transparency in the workplace. The lack of taboos and clear rules of operation in the organization are today one of the most desirable features by specialists when choosing a workplace. The conversations taking place in the “open” space, thanks to ChatOps show the organization as honest and trustworthy.

Fourthly, team ties are strengthened, i.e. the so-called team-building. This is necessary, especially in distributed organizations, where everyone works from a different place. As new people establish and build mutual relationships, the team gets closer to each other, which results in its effectiveness in project implementation.

Fifthly, is invaluable for remote work. As previously mentioned, distributed teams in which team members work from anywhere – an airport, home, cafe or park – are in constant contact with other colleagues.

The last point is the involvement of colleagues. ChatOps streamlines work, and the team can perform their tasks effectively. An additional aspect is the increasing involvement of employees, which in turn translates into their efficiency.

ChatOps can be considered a big change in the context of communication and teamwork. It means saving time and finances during onboarding processes and increasing team efficiency. It allows improving and transparency of communication in the organization. It is a binder connecting teams working in dispersed structures and a good base for developing the best practices for project implementation.

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