#operations: Setup an Operations Slack Channel for your Team!

“Situations like this only reinforce my deep suspicion of developers: They’re often carelessly breaking things and then disappearing, leaving Operations to clean up the mess.” 
Gene Kim, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

This quote exemplifies why the Second Way of DevOps (creating feedback loops) is massively important. Creating feedback loops ensures that necessary corrections can be made continuously and give the ability to respond to issues quickly. This in turn makes everyone accountable for any code that they commit.

At ContractClub we leverage Slack’s powerful integration suite to set up light weight and informative internal feedback loops. We centralize all of this feedback into a single channel which we call #operations

Some of the integrations we have in this stack are Jira, Bitbucket, Bitbucket Pipelines, Codecov, Docker Cloud, Datadog, and until recently Jenkins. These cover the basic check points in our workflow.

At a very high level, work enters through Jira. During development feedback is given through Jira and Bitbucket as code gets commited and pull requests are created. After a pull request gets merged, Bitbucket provides additional feedback on the integration testing and deployment. Docker Cloud and Codecov bud in here too, giving their two cents on the build.

Finally Datadog handles the production monitoring and barks here if there is trouble.

Additionally, names are attached to builds to ensure accountability. This is not a measure to embarrass or blame people, but rather a means to direct assistance and resources to fix problems.

The default side bar color schemes are a nice touch too. This helps non-technical folks get a feel of whats occurring very quickly. However, as a side note this channel will become very verbose and controlling what information gets displayed will become more and more important. One thing that we learned very quickly was that an overly noisy channel is an ignored channel.

Your team may have a different tool set altogether, but it is key to begin to understand your workflow and start attaching these “meters” to gain visibility. Slack has been an awesome tool in achieving this for a few reasons:

  1. Your teams first 10 integrations are free!
  2. Many integration setups only take a few minutes.
  3. Everyone on your team effectively has a pager and can be more responsive when issues do arise.

I won’t go into detail about how to integrate each tool, there exists a myriad of documentation to help your team accomplish that. I do suggest that you begin your journey here. Take the time to set these integrations up, it may take a couple hours, but the added benefits will pay you back in spades!