One of the sometimes unsung stars of the DevOps scene is ChatOps. I have heard lots of folks use the term, but what does it really mean to you? ChatOps is a phenomenon that started, perhaps not surprisingly, inside of GitHub. It was only natural that developers leveraging the repository to share and build better code would eventually start collaborating in ways that other messaging options just couldn’t provide.
Whether ChatOps in GitHub is something that gave rise to the growing enterprise collaboration and chat product/services market is open for debate. There is no doubt, however, that the 30 (give or take) cloud-based messaging and chat platforms out there today are looking to make their mark in the world of developers, engineers, admins, DevOps and IT professionals. Some of the larger players in the space have already launched features designed specifically to appeal to this set of users, with Atlassian HipChat and Slack among the leaders. But they are not alone. I thought it would be worth the effort to take a look at some of the players and up and comers in the space.
HipChat has been a strong proponent of ChatOps for a time now. The company has consistently been tagged as a leader and boasts product integrations with many different tools and services. For example, a Puppet integration brings the power of ChatOps to joint HipChat/Puppet DevOps customers. Slack has made strides as well. Integrations with incident management and response providers including VictorOps and PagerDuty are only a few examples of how Slack has given teams the ability to collaborate on and fix problems with just a few clicks.
Despite the millions of users already using Slack, HipChat, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace and other apps in the market, there is still no definitive proof of whether any of the competitors have won the hearts and minds of the IT professional. In fact, we are seeing many of general IT publications writing about several of these tools because many of their users are in that category. The original ChatOps tool that was brought to life in GitHub, for all we know, may still be king among the IT audience.
Will the Jury Reach a Verdict?
There are two things that are certain in the market: The jury hasn’t yet decided if there is a ChatOps winner among the numerous options, and developers and other IT professionals may want to consider other options before reaching a decision. Unfortunately, for as much as the true IT practitioners despise marketing, there simply has been no way to avoid the buzz that the aforementioned providers have created. Chances are, if you are searching for a solution, one of the biggies is going to pop up in the top of your browser and potentially block you from finding all options available.
The Choice Gets Tougher
The foundational similarity between top platforms is that they use cloud-based applications to connect teams in efficient, collaborative and transparent ways. Mobile workflows and the growth of BYOD has increased the popularity of enterprise messaging and chat platforms as they create ways for employees to quickly reach one another on their own terms. Yet even so, enterprise messaging vendors are learning that to be effective, they must also provide users with agility, security and the ability to execute on change.
Options to Consider
The past couple of years have highlighted just how competitive this space is, and how quickly it is moving. If you work in an environment that leverages ChatOps or are considering ChatOps options, the list below presents a few of the lesser-known or up-and-coming platforms out there with the potential to become your ChatOps solution. That is not to say that the big guys such as HipChat or Slack are not worthy. On the contrary; they are great solutions. But some of these others might be worth looking into:
Newcomer Flock entered the U.S. market in September 2016. With an eye on the developer community, the startup worked quickly to open its API to developers and has started adding integrations with partners such as PagerDuty, Bitbucket and Appsignal. Flock’s biggest differentiator is that it allows developers to build bots, widgets and apps on its framework using Java and Node.js SDKs, which easily feed into Flock’s Appstore for distribution. Flock allows developers to spin up applications in just days. For developer teams stretched on time and budget, they’ll find the application has GitHub integration, engages quickly after being turned on and offers low costs for its paid version.
Ryver, founded in 2015, provides all-in-one team collaboration, from chats, posts and files to the option to invite as many team members and guests as needed. Additionally, Ryver has a broad range of functionality that offers the ability to share long-form posts or threaded discussion, and integrates with the likes of Google Docs, Dropbox, Asana, Jira, Twitter and Facebook, among others. Ryver recently rolled out its “Global search” bar, which allows a keyword search to locate multiple matches across conversations and solves email’s common problem of archiving data.
Third, there’s ChatWork, known as a group app for global teams. ChatWork is available in five languages and says it supports 124,000 customers in 205 countries. Last month, ChatWork announced new features to connect multiple chat platforms through the ChatWork desktop app as well as a new screenshot feature. The multichat and chat service integration features allow users to be logged into multiple ChatWork accounts without having to change browsers or log in and out repeatedly. This comes in handy when using multiple ChatWork accounts, such as personal and business accounts at the same time. It also allows teams that use Gmail, Outlook or Skype to use these services together from a single area within the desktop app.
eXo Platform began as an open-source project in 2002 focused on implementing the industry’s first Java portlet container. The project grew into a company in 2003, to start working with its first customer, the U.S. Department of Defense. Today, eXo is an all-in-one open-source digital collaboration platform that provides knowledge, document and content management, social engagement and project collaboration tools integrated into your business’s applications. It is full-featured and extensible, and has a great design. eXo helps companies connect their employees, customers and developers through social, collaborative and content-driven intranets, websites and dashboards.
Assembla is a set of cloud-based task and code management tools for software developers. Created in 2005, Assembla hosts more than 100,000 commercial and open-source projects and is used by more than 800,000 users in 100+ countries. With Assembla, software engineering teams can manage tasks, teams and code in one place with SVN, Perforce, Git repos, cardwall view of tickets for drag and drop planning, wikis and more. Integrations include Slack, Github and Zapier.
Finally, there’s Salesforce company Quip. Quip was founded in 2012 by Facebook and Google alumni and combines documents, spreadsheets and chat into one experience. With Quip, enterprises can manage projects, finalize budget plans, share meeting notes and stay connected. Quip is used by thousands of the world’s most well-known and innovative companies, including Facebook, NewRelic, Quora, and Pinterest.
As you can see, there are lots of choices out there if you have not already settled on Slack or HipChat, or if you want to see if something else is better for your situation. If you haven’t heard the singing, there is still time to check them out.