One of the biggest challenges teams are currently facing, is the need to collaborate in an environment where there are numerous tools, platforms and collaboration models. Group chat tools like HipChat and Slack have alleviated some of these challenges, by enabling group conversations in meaningful contexts in persistent chat rooms. Chat has become an important tool in performing daily work efforts and improving collaboration within teams.
As illustrated by this diagram below, Development and IT teams face their own unique hurdle with an increasing sprawl of technologies to be used:
ChatOps is a potential solution to this challenge that Dev and IT teams are facing.
Atlassian does a great job in defining this term and it's uses:
ChatOps is a collaboration model that connects people, tools, process, 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. The transparency tightens the feedback loop, improves information sharing, and enhances team collaboration. Not to mention team culture and cross-training.
ChatOps augments the standard chat experience by using integrations and bots to provide an additional layer of interactivity. Popular chat tools like HipChat and Slack, have numerous integrations with third party tools and platforms to extend their usability. You can see some of them for each product here:
Chat integrations can range from using external tools and systems to pull chat notifications, to being able to fully interact with those systems directly in the chat room. A lot of these integrations can also utilize the native UI and UX of the chat tool, seamlessly integrating without feeling disconnected from the outside tool.
The JIRA integration with HipChat is a great example of a meaningful integration between an outside tool like JIRA and a chat tool like HipChat. Below video shows the abilities made possible by such an integration.
Another example can be seen with the integration between Invision and Slack. This integration keeps the team up-to date on activity happening within Invision by sending notifications straight to the team's chat room in Slack. See this integration shown in the video below:
There are too many integrations to cover in this one blog, but the general best practice to ChatOps is to look for existing integrations for the tools and platforms that your teams are already using. This helps prevent email overload and context switching between multiple tools. It also provides meaningful context to regular conversations. ChatOps is vast and integrations are a huge and useful part of it. However, this evolving landscape extends beyond just integrations into areas like bots and complete DevOps workflows.
This blog is the first part of a ChatOps series we plan to run this month. In Part 2 of this series, we will explore the world of ChatBots!