Application Delivery Blog

Automation, Meet #ChatOps. (What is #ChatOps anyway?)

Steve Allie
Posted on Mar 6, 2018 9:00:54 AM

I’ve spent over 20 years of my career in IT reacting to up-and-coming trends that are meant to “radically transform” the way enterprises do business. My experience has taught me that hype exceeds reality. These trends have merit but are more evolutions—not revolutions—in technology. For example, innovations like virtualization and cloud infrastructure were clearly the future, but took significant time to mature to a point where businesses use them in production at scale.

Today, the number of trends are increasing and so is the velocity of their maturity. Automation, for instance, is now a mainstay of the modern enterprise. Whatever can be automated, should be automated. And with the rise of APIs, we’re seeing a rapid growth in how everything from applications to infrastructure are automated.

Now my “geek” kicks in and wheels start turning...

About a month ago I started talking to one of our Solutions Architects, discussing this new world order of API-driven automation. Since I live in Slack these days, for almost 100% of my integrated communication needs (I really do loath email), that was of course part of the conversation.

"What if we connect a Slack Bot to the Avi Controller? Wouldn't it be cool if we could show the power of our REST API architecture to quickly demo automating application provisioning or programmable services? Is something like this really valuable to App Owners?"

It didn’t take long for the idea to have some momentum. Two weeks of tinkering yielded a live demo at our Worldwide Kickoff event in San Jose, CA. Afterwards, a colleague came up to me and said, "that was cool, but I was doing that two years ago. It's called ChatOps." To the earlier point, it is moving fast!

After another week of adjustments on this side project, I put together a quick (and perhaps cheesy) video showing off what I'm calling @AviBot.



You can see how Avi's open platform and API-driven architecture can perform simple tasks. This has all been fun to build and demonstrate, and we even showed off @AviBot in a couple customer training sessions this past week with great response.

Personally, automation has revolutionized my life through use of IoT connected devices and sensors all over my "Smart Home". IFTTT has become a consistent tool in a mesh of daily, automated tasks. When Alexa starts playing Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis, or a specific group of LIFX lights start flashing red, my family knows the Blackhawks must have just scored. When our dog food ships, we get an automatic reminder set on the family calendar, which is linked to a special alert when the UPS driver drops the food and pushes our Ring doorbell. So this concept is exciting to me, and fits perfectly into my connected and automation-trained brain.

But is #ChatOps really useful as it relates to performing enterprise-level (albeit DevOps and App Dev related) functions and workflows? Can it truly be a vehicle by which we perform application services, or is this just the next iteration of a services platform? Receiving an email alert was so 10 years ago, and even logging into a CLI or UI is a thing of the past. Our customers have already been pulling analytics and data telemetry from Avi's distributed dataplane fabric via API, and correlating that information on a centralized dashboard like Grafana. Super slick! Operationalizing an Avi deployment or executing full application workloads via an Ansible playbook is incredibly powerful! However, we are talking about pushing small API tasks, shifting the conversation towards simplifying and automating daily activities. This is what could potential change patterns in our daily lives, and how we exceed expectations of our jobs. During my initial research of #ChatOps, in my “where was this 20 years ago” state of mind, I uncovered my favorite quote.

"ChatOps combines a powerful way to get things done with a more human way of working." - Sean Regan

There is no doubt that there is potential with automation and #ChatOps, as evidenced by what we’ve been able to do with just a few hours of play. This may just be an evolution in automation, but it has revolutionized my home life. Can it do the same for business? Feel free to leave comments and thoughts, or better yet, examples of how this is currently being used. I would sincerely like to know…

If you'd like to see a demo of @AviBot, or request access to the script, please schedule a demo and mention “@AviBot” in the Additional Information field.

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Topics: automation, ChatOps

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