IT teams put conversations to work with chatops

Putting tools, alerts and processes into the chat interface gives both developers and the ops team a new model for working with infrastructure

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Chat is an old tool that’s newly popular. From Slack and HipChat to Salesforce Chatter and Microsoft’s new Teams tool (and a myriad of others), these collaboration tools supplement rather than replace enterprise social networks like Yammer or Jive. Microsoft’s Office division director Richard Ellis likens it to the difference between Facebook and WhatsApp: “The chat-based workspace fills a gap where people can talk rapidly, share content and work as a team.”

Chatops takes it one step further, adding bots that are configured with custom scripts and plugins so that you can go from talking about work in chat, to actually doing it.

“Chat is the closest analog to the way people most naturally interact,” says Steve Goldsmith, the general manager of HipChat at Atlassian. “Ops is about getting done whatever my team is trying to get done, and the trend is moving from using chat to keep each other updated on a deliverable, to completing the objective in a timely way. ChatOps takes what people are already comfortable doing as humans and layers in process and technology, to allow teams to own a process or an issue end-to-end without constantly switching tools or leaving that process.”

Not all of the pieces are necessarily available currently, but Goldsmith predicts that the future of ChatOps is “teams taking action together — opening chat, going to the right room for that project where the right people are assembled for taking action together, and when the job is done we'll all know at the same time.”

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