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On Tuesday, Netflix open sourced a chatbot
—technically a Slackbot—for managing the company’s expansive GitHub environment. Called HubCommander, the bot lets developers automate their interactions with GitHub via Slack command, while also letting the company enforce and standardize its permissions protocol.
It’s interesting enough alone, but as I wrote on ArchiTECHt yesterday,
Netflix is not the first company to adopt what some are referring to as “ChatOps.” In fact, the term goes back at least a couple years
, with the most famous user being GitHub itself, via its popular Hubot
system. To hear folks from GitHub tell it, Hubot lets engineers do everything from chat (naturally) to migrate workloads onto new infrastructure.
“Basically, everything you could ever possibly imagine to do in our infrastructure, you can do via Hubot,” GitHub’s Sam Lambert told me in 2015
I have no idea the overall adoption rate of ChatOps today, but I’ll assume it’s limited to a relatively small number of tech-savvy companies—the Netflix- and GitHub-types, as well as startups modeled in their images. However, like so many other things that might initially appear foreign (DevOps and microservices, for example), ChatOps seems poised to make its way to the mainstream.
There are lots of reasons for why that is, but two big ones are its natural symbiosis with the type programmable infrastructure that began with AWS and carries on with containers, and the fact that chat logs are actually a relatively simple way to figure out who did what and when. A third might be the seemingly unstoppable force that is Slack, and all the competition it inspires along the way.
If I were Slack, Atlassian, Microsoft or any other number of companies with a horse in this race, I would start trying to own ChatOps now, while it’s still flying under the radar for most folks. Own the term, harden the technology, and get ready to make IT departments’ collective heads explode yet again.