ChatOps Extravaganza With Jason Hand, Sasha Rosenbaum, and Peter Burkholder

Posted on Thursday, Sep 10, 2015
Matt & Trevor sit down with Jason Hand (VictorOps), Sasha Rosenbaum (10th Magnitude), and Peter Burkholder (Chef) to discuss ChatOps.

Show Notes


Recording Live from DevOpsDays Chicago!

ChatOps is used by many teams and companies as the main communication tool for day to day chat, and their most important activities. In fact, ChatOps may be taking the place of email in the workplace for internal communication for tech teams as it helps communication during DevOps activities like deploys, code pushes, etc. This episode discusses best practices (if there are any) of ChatOps and how to make sure you are getting the most from your team communication tools.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Communication

  • 25% of the work week is spent managing your inbox. You can actually increase productivity by moving to Sync communication…we think.
  • Sasha: ChatOps creates an enormous amount of noise while at the same time makes communication grouped and searchable.
  • Discussion suggests it is up to the user to mediate that noise, but is it the user, the culture, or the conversation itself that dictates the role of chat? Tivo is given as an example of user mediation: you recorded a shit ton of stuff, and watched only what you wanted.

The panel comes to the conclusion that important decisions should lean away from ChatOps, and into a more formal, permanent form of communication. “Important things will ‘re-bubble’ again,” but the chatroom is not the place if a team consensus is needed, especially if the team is remote. - Create a culture where ChatOps is used in the way you need. - Risky to go “Super Pendulum Swing” in one direction or the other.

What is ChatOps good at?

  • Solving the communication problem.
    • Brings everybody into the same experience. Even if you are across Europe, or accross the room, you are having the same experience.
  • Great for in the moment Q & A.
    • Even with one on one questions, if the answer is shared in a public channel, the information is given to all on the team which moderates the need for repeated questions, and increases team efficiency. You need to be constantly pairing. If you direct message someone, you are keeping that information from the team. “If you are not working in your chat tool, you are not collaborating.”
  • Shared History
    • Makes communication searchable, and organized by topic, or at least team.
  • Rooms should be broken down to their smallest parts. Topics, Meetings, Projects, they should all be open spaces for all departments.
  • Getting messages/alerts from integrated tools is perhaps one of the most important features of ChatOps in DevOps: Jenkins, Github, Travis, etc.

What’s the Problem?

  • There are just too many messages. But they are necessary messages.
  • Internal ChatOps tool is almost useless when you are a consultant and you are all working on different clients.

Problems with Adoption?

  • In your organization, if you are considering chat tools for different purposes, use benchmarking and measurements to monitor your usage and data in each tool (in this case, chat vs. email)
  • Matt uses RescueTime ( religiously. His current rate of email vs Slack: 4 Hours in Slack, 48 minutes in email.
  • Sales, Support, etc. prefer email, but that will not change until their tools are integrated with Slack as well.

How to make use for permanent communication?

  • Have you adopted ChatOps for sustained messages and conversations that need to be kept?
  • Pinned Items are like the refrigerator…it’s emptied at the end of the week.
  • If it should live longer than a week, then it gets moved to the wiki, google doc, or the most appropriate space for the info.

How do you practice Chat-Zero? (Comment with your answer)

  • How do you go through every message in your chat?
  • How do you know what is important?

Last Thoughts:

  • Peter can’t wait for computers to be smart enough to interrupt us only when appropriate. “Who is the least invested in their work right now? Let’s notify that person.”
  • If you are considering it, do it. But be careful what you use, and how you use it.
  • Jason: It’s new tech, but its the old problem. ChatOps is just the newest efficiency on the line.
Sign up for the Banana Stand for the latest ADO news.


Jason Hand

Jason Hand

Jason Hand writes, presents, and coaches on the principles and nuance of DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering, and modern incident management practices. Named “DevOps Evangelist of the Year” by in 2016, Jason recently authored a new book on the topic of Site Reliability Engineering. In addition to SRE, Jason has authored books with O’Reilly Media on the subject of post-incident reviews and Chatops. DevOpsDays Rockies organizer and host of the Front-range Site Reliability Meetup, Jason is dedicated to the latest trends in technology, sharing the lessons learned, and helping people continuously improve their IT and software development practices. Jason is also a co-host on the popular podcast, “Community Pulse” - a show on building community in tech.

Sasha Rosenbaum

Sasha Rosenbaum

Sasha Rosenbaum is a fighter. Not because she was in the Israeli army, which she was; not because she immigrated to Israel without her family, which she did; and not because she willingly moved to Chicago’s winter from Israel’s warmth; but because she’s always pushing forward to solve problems. As a Senior Consultant at 10th Magnitude, Sasha turns her powerful problem solving approach to helping clients as well as to learning new technology and figuring out how apply it to projects. Before moving to Chicago, she served two years in the Israeli Air Force’s IT department (we could tell you exactly what she was doing, but then we would have to kill you), was a software engineer for Elbit Systems, Ltd, in Israel, and holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science with a Focus on Bioinformatics from Technion, Israeli Institute of Technology.

Peter Burkholder

Peter Burkholder

Geophysicist turned DevOp. Joining GSA’s @18F soon, currently hacking for @GovReady. Formerly: @chef, @aarp, NIH, NCAR, U. of Washington & U. of Witwatersrand.

When free from work, can be found making pizza, playing volleyball and singing w/ his community choir.


Matty Stratton

Matty Stratton

Matty Stratton is a HumanOps Advocate at PagerDuty, where he helps dev and ops teams advance the practice of their craft and become more operationally mature. He collaborates with PagerDuty customers and industry thought leaders in the broader DevOps community, and back when he drove, his license plate actually said “DevOps”.

Matty has over 20 years experience in IT operations, ranging from large financial institutions such as JPMorganChase and internet firms, including He is a sought-after speaker internationally, presenting at Agile, DevOps, and ITSM focused events, including ChefConf, DevOpsDays, Interop, PINK, and others worldwide. Matty is the founder and co-host of the popular Arrested DevOps podcast, as well as a global organizer of the DevOpsDays set of conferences.

He lives in San Francisco and has three awesome kids - Henry, Joey, and Sophia, who he loves just a little bit more than he loves Doctor Who. He is currently on a mission to discover the best pho in the world.

Trevor Hess

Trevor Hess

Trevor Hess is a Partner Solution Architect focusing on Microsoft at Chef Software, working with Microsoft to ensure that Chef is delighting customers and prospects on Windows and the many parts inside Azure!

Coming from a background in .NET Software Development and consulting, he has worked with several large multinational organizations to help kick start their journey to the cloud and the world of DevOps practices and principals. He is excited to engage in new experiences, and learning opportunities.

Trevor enjoys having hearty discussions about DevOps as well organizational change and transformation.