November 3, 2018 · Exploration

Agility With ChatOps - Introduction

Example of a PoshBot interaction in Slack.

The Problem

Nimble internal IT organizations have often had a need for tools that can be easily integrated into existing workflows, minimizing the interaction cost of moving from tool to tool in a given day.

Many organizations have now moved to using real-time chat applications like Slack to operate more effectively and increase collaboration. One of the best parts of Slack and other tools like it are its integration with other tools, like Trello (project management). This can be referred to as "ChatOps" – the work sometimes never leaves Slack.

The Solution

We've begun implementing the beginnings of ChatOps at work – and the results so far are promising. I won't rehash here what it is and what type of work culture it takes to run (see this post for a brief intro).

Instead, let's "chat" about how you can get up and running with a relatively new entrant to ChatOps - PoshBot, which is what is powering our current projects.

PoshBot is a basic bot framework that easily connects to Slack (and a few other enterprise chat apps; notably, support for Microsoft Teams arrived recently). It allows you to send messages in a channel or direct message to the user "PoshBot" which then forwards your message to a server of your choice. This message gets translated into whatever code you want that type of message to execute.

Since PoshBot uses PowerShell, the possibilities are only limited to what you might dream up!

But Does It Work, Really?

In this series, I plan to share some examples of how we've used PoshBot to build out a command palette that allows us the flexibility to give some power to our student technicians & help desk employees that we could not otherwise give them without granting full access to complex MMC snap-ins and various GUI-based admin consoles.

ChatOps allows us to be nimble and automate small, repetitive tasks, and it gives us the ability to perform those administrative tasks from any device, anywhere, at any time without sacrificing security. Let's dive in!