ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

This week saw thousands of IT professionals head to the Europe’s largest Cloud exhibition – including ECS Digital and our village of partners!

From blockchain and IoT vendors, to datacentre climate control systems manufacturers and cable suppliers, the crowds enticed anybody interested in Cloud-first, scaling up, refining, or just getting started with the tools and technology.

As has been echoed in previous events, Cloud Expo Europe is an unrivalled opportunity to meet with leading technology innovators and service providers, and network with your peers. Attendees also gain access to a wealth of knowledge and advice including emerging trends, tech deep dives, lessons learned and market forecasts.

ECS Digital once again have donned their conference apparel and deployed Europe’s only DevOps Partner Village, bringing together vendors from across the DevOps tool chain. This included Sonatype, New Relic and Storage OS – experts in application performance monitoring and artifact lifecycle management to dynamic container storage, all under one red, white and blue banner.

As you’ll probably know by now, ECS Digital is an agnostic DevOps and continuous delivery consultancy that provides professional and DevOps expertise to thousands of customers, and this year they have been showcasing the newest feather in their cap; Enablement Pods™.

Enablement PodsTM introduce a new way of working, processes and tooling. By remaining flexible in their resource profiling, our fixed priced outcome-based engagement model enables you to transform at scale by embedding – for short periods – in existing engineering teams to enable them to implement true change. What’s more, you decide the outcomes and objectives for each sprint, and we put our fees at risk to ensure we deliver.

It really is that simple.

During their talk on day one, Young DevOps Consultant of the Year 2018 Michel Lebeau and Pod Delivery Lead Tom Chapman described Enablement Pods™ as ECS Digital new weapon for making long-lasting and impactful changes in the Enterprise space. They also walked guests through how they are using Enablement Pods™, some of the challenge case studies and what Enablement Pods™ has achieved. If you missed the talk, you can learn more here.

ECS Digital also introduced a second, equally exciting initiative at Cloud Expo Europe. The DevOps Playground is supporting the tech community by giving enthusiasts a platform to explore new technology and tools. We’re also super chuffed that the Playground reached 4,000 members worldwide during the show – we’re giving credit to the talk our team delivered on day two!

I was fortunate enough to deliver the DevOps Playground story, describing how ECS Digital have used the DevOps Playground to build a tech community that encourages tech enthusiasts to not only learn about tools, but to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of engineers.

Each month, the DevOps Playground welcomes large numbers of tech-enthusiasts to one of our four worldwide locations – London, Singapore, Pune and Edinburgh. Each Playground lasts for around 2.5 hours, with a chunk of that time set aside for individuals to run and use the chosen tech / tools on their own laptop.

Attendees can expect to follow along with a structured and comprehensive exercise, designed to jumpstart new users with unfamiliar technologies and to highlight the best ways to use the technology. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, head over to the DevOps Playground website to find out more.

Other key takeaways from the show include:

  • Containers are driving the Cloud adoption of software development for 90% of the customers we spoke to
  • DevOps is the new standard for Cloud and agile working and is driving the need to modernise the more traditional methods
  • Cloud Expo is the one-stop-shop for all things Cloud – it was an eye opener seeing how much physical infrastructure goes into the ‘Cloud’

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. We will be revealing a mini-video series about Cloud Expo over the next couple of weeks to recapture some of the best moments from the show – watch this space!

Morgan AtkinsECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe
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The need for Automation in a Post-Truth World

The need for Automation in a Post-Truth World

A gentle reminder as to why we need Automation, in a year where “Post-Truth” is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year.


Did you see this image making the rounds not so long ago? Did you spend as much time as I did trying to catch the dots off-guard, before they disappeared again? (sneaky buggers!)

What about this dress?


Do you see it as black and blue, or as white and gold? The internet was obsessed with it for a good few days, without reaching an agreement.

Objectivity tells us there’s 12 dots in the first image, located at the intersections, but our brain won’t allow us to see them all at once. Similarly, it lets us know that the dress was actually black and blue.

You don’t have to look much further than the climate change “debate” for evidence of inability for many people to see scientific arguments that go against their beliefs. Another good example is Brexit. 17 million people defied the ‘experts’, who prophesied a decade of doom, gloom and misery.

As somebody’s grandfather used to say, “The good thing about facts is that they are indifferent to your opinion.”


As 2016 draws to an end, we have seen the rise of the word “Post-Truth” and now we come into an age where “truth” itself, doesn’t even matter.

We have progressed from subjectivity to “truthiness” to an outright “post-truth” reality. A pick-your-own-reality adventure.

Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that causes us to seek confirmation of our preconceptions, while we avoid information that might contradict them. It can also cause us to tend to overvalue information supporting our preconceptions, and undervalue information in conflict with them. 2016 has seen the rise of Extreme Confirmation Bias.

There have been many descriptions of the phenomenon of selective news consumption – information silos, confirmation bias – whereby the consumer assimilates information that conforms with pre-existing beliefs, and rejects contrary information. Google, Facebook, and others, use algorithms to identify the “content” we “prefer”, without our even knowing it, so we don’t even see other content.

This accelerates and amplifies the existing tendency.

The Rise of the Machine

2016 has also been the year where new technology has become the norm in our everyday lives.From TVs, computers, GPS, smartphones etc., we have seen the future come alive before our eyes. While technology has made our lives easier in many ways, it has also made us more reliant upon it.

As we enter 2017, I believe that the next big change we will see is the idea of the Internet of Things, specifically the industrial IoT. This means critical systems will come online and will need to be maintained by human processes.

A recent article by Forbes confirms that we’re going to see this digitisation in an unprecedented manner with “Half of Executives Worldwide Expecting Vast Digital Transformation in Next Two Years”.

These systems will need part or fully manual processes to maintain and deliver them e.g. Build and Release, Testing, Operations.


Software is designed, implemented and tested by people. Therefore, it is important to gain insight about people’s thought processes, and their problem solving skills, in order to improve software quality.

While solving problems during any phase of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), software engineers employ some heuristics. These heuristics may result in “cognitive biases,” which are defined as patterned deviations of human thought from the laws of logic and mathematics.

You cannot fully avoid the confirmation bias. That’s actually a good thing, because if you could you wouldn’t be human.

We need Automation to make valid, objective inferences from data, free from this human bias.



ECS Digital are leaders in Automation and Digital Transformation. We’ve been helping enterprises deliver software and software-related services faster and at lower cost through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices, since 2003.

Read how we automated business processes for a leading Telco, enabling them to deliver 36 times faster than their main competitor, here. 


Some credit must go to Matthew Mayo at KDnuggets:, who partly inspired this piece.

Padraig MurphyThe need for Automation in a Post-Truth World
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Automic Software and ECS Digital announce strategic Devops partnership

Automic Software and ECS Digital announce strategic Devops partnership

SEATTLE & VIENNA–(BUSINESS WIRE)– ECS Digital (previously Forest Technologies), the leading DevOps and Digital Transformation Consultancy headquartered in London, and Automic, the leader in Business Automation, today announced, a strategic partnership wherein Automic will leverage ECS Digital’s experienced DevOps consulting and enablement capabilities to support their customers’ adoption ofApplication Release Automation and Continuous Delivery solutions, as well as provide input into their product roadmap.

automic_web_logo.pngUnder this partnership, ECS Digital will include Automic solutions in its reference continuous delivery tool chain for their customers’ DevOps and digital transformation engagements. Every business relies on software to deliver value to its customers, and DevOps is the perfect catalyst for innovation in software development, and more importantly, a powerful tool for organizations looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital-led market. Software is more critical than ever.

“Building on their 20 year heritage of automation in production environments for some of the largest companies in the world, Automic have delivered a truly Enterprise Class Release Automation product” said Andy Cureton, Founder of ECS Digital, previously Forest Technologies.

“We are excited to extend our existing relationship with Automic and are confident that by combining our expertise in delivering continuous delivery and transformation initiatives with Automic Release Automation we can ensure greater value.”

“ECS Digital shares the same strategic vision as Automic in terms of providing our customers with comprehensive Application Release Automation and DevOps solutions. Working together, we enable synergies in our clients’ business processes and underlying IT infrastructure”, stated Todd DeLaughter, CEO of Automic Software.

DeLaughter continued, “As an industry leader, Automic is solely focused on empowering businesses through automation, helping them to become more agile and responsive in this digital age. Our customers have been very clear about their intentions to align their business and IT needs, and as a result, we are proud to partner with ECS Digital in order to jointly provide complete Application Release Automation solutions to meet their needs.”

The partnership enables Automic and ECS Digital  clients to enhance continuous delivery through end-to-end automation, while achieving greater agility and control. The expertise provided by both organizations will enable clients to adopt the necessary tools to begin their DevOps journey.

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Andy CuretonAutomic Software and ECS Digital announce strategic Devops partnership
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ECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status

ECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status

London – 4th March, 2016 – ECS Digital (previously Forest Technologies), one of the leading DevOps and Digital Transformation Consultancies headquartered in London, announced today that it has achieved Service Delivery Partner Status with Puppet Labs. Through this partnership, ECS Digital will deliver digital transformation solutions for IT driven businesses using Puppet Labs’ market leading infrastructure automation and continuous delivery technologyPuppet Enterprise.

Under this partnership, ECS Digital will include Puppet Enterprise in its reference continuous delivery tool chain for their customers’ DevOps and digital transformation engagements. Every business today relies on software to deliver value to its customers. DevOps is the perfect catalyst for innovation in software development, and a powerful tool for organisations looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing market where software is more critical than ever.

“Puppet Enterprise is one of the leading continuous delivery technologies, building on its heritage in infrastructure automation with the addition of Puppet Application Orchestration,” said Andy Cureton, Founder and CEO of ECS Digital. “We are excited to formalise our relationship with Puppet Labs so we can deepen our knowledge of their technology with the addition of a Puppet practice in ECS Digital.  We are confident that our expertise combined with Puppet Enterprise will deliver rapid value to our customers’ digital transformation initiatives.”

“We are excited to announce this relationship withECS Digital,” said Mukesh Sharma, EMEA VP of Sales at Puppet Labs. “In ECS Digital we have a partner with over 12 years experience of consulting and training, delivering automation solutions that complement Puppet. We talk to an increasing number of customers who want to use Puppet Enterprise as part of a full CD tool chain and ECS Digital fits the perfect partner profile to extend the value of Puppet Enterprise to more organizations globally.”

About ECS Digital

ECS Digital was founded to deliver the consulting experience all customers wish for.  We respectively challenge the status quo and constantly review the latest technology and methodology advances, to ensure we deliver the optimal solution.  Our team are recruited for their DNA as much as their technical ability because honesty and the desire to go the extra mile are key to delivering what we promised, when we promised it, and within the budget we agreed. Consulting the ECS Digital way.

About Puppet Labs

Puppet Labs, Inc. is the leader in IT automation. Puppet Labs Puppet-logo.jpgsoftware provides system administrators the operational agility, efficiency and insight they need to proactively manage dynamic infrastructure, scaling from tens of servers to thousands, both on premise and in the cloud. Thousands of the world’s leading organizations use Puppet Labs software to configure and manage their IT infrastructure, including Bank of America, Cisco, NYSE, and WebEx. Based in Portland, Oregon, Puppet Labs employs 400 people. The company is backed by investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, VMware, Cisco, True Ventures and Radar Partners. To learn more, please visit

Media Contact

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Andy CuretonECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status
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DevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is

DevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is

Over the past few years, DevOps has been steadily gaining traction in enterprise IT for the benefit it provides in driving business forward at a faster pace. The results speak for themselves – from ‘unicorn’ companies like Etsy and Netflix, who seem to be able to achieve the impossible through DevOps, down to start-ups and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who are realising its potential as a way to eclipse their competition.

But as the hype around DevOps continues to grow unabated, many companies fall into the trap of ‘doing DevOps’ at the expense of actually implementing value-adding DevOps practices. In this blog, we’ll look at why effective DevOps adoption depends on understanding what DevOps isn’t,as well as what it is.

“Doing DevOps” isn’t the same thing as adopting DevOps practices.

In an article on, David Geer sums the ‘doing DevOps’ paradox as follows: “No one should be doing DevOps. It’s not an action, it’s not a title, it’s a blanket term for approaches that bridge the gap between traditional operations and development groups.” The first, and most important thing to understand about DevOps is that it isn’t, as Geer says, a title or an action. It is the combination of people, processes and tools, assembled in accordance to guiding principles and best practices that results in a more efficient delivery of better quality software. Many organisations make the principal mistake of creating a ‘DevOps team’ without considering what this truly entails. Creating a specialised DevOps team is counter-intuitive – DevOps makes organisations more efficient by breaking down the barriers that traditionally exist between dev and ops teams, and creating another silo within your organisation will only work against what you’re trying to achieve.

Automation isn’t all there is to DevOps, but it’s an important aspect.

One of the most common misconceptions about DevOps is that it’s just another word for automation. I’ve already discussed why DevOps is more than just automation in some detail in an earlier blog post, but the point is worth reiterating here. Automation constitutes a vital component of DevOps, but automating a few processes doesn’t mean you’ve achieved anything. What you have created are islands of automation where systems are loosely connected often causing further silos of expertise within the ecosystem. Automating the right processes is key to creating value for your business, and this depends on having the necessary insight into the way your business works. As Alan Sharp-Paul says in his blog on UpGuard, “A common misconception for Enterprises commencing their automation journey is that the key preparation work is choosing a tool and training their staff up. These are necessary evils, sure, but the real work is actually gathering requirements. With legacy infrastructure in play, what matters most is getting visibility of current state.

Without visibility into the current state of your business and target objectives, automating processes is akin to drawing names from a hat, at best. In other words, don’t automate what you don’t understand.

Adopting DevOps doesn’t mean downsizing or shedding staff.

DevOps doesn’t mean throwing out all your developers and operations staff and replacing them with an all-star ‘DevOps team’ that can accomplish anything in no time at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – DevOps is about empowering your existing staff to achieve more by working more closely together and automating the vital links between traditionally disparate departments. Creating a specialised DevOps team might seem like a great way to fast-track your organisation, but this is counter-intuitive to the benefits that DevOps provides. Ultimately, adoption of DevOps allows you to get more value from your existing workforce, not replace it with another, smaller unit.

DevOps is notoriously hard to define, and it can be even more difficult to adopt without a clear understanding of where you should be heading. ECS Digital has over 12 years’ experience helping organisations in many industries around the world realise the value of DevOps done right providing a independent and agnostic approach to what works best for your organisation. If you’d like to know more about how we could help this become a reality for your organisation, please contact us for a DevOps maturity assessment.

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Andy CuretonDevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is
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Common challenges when working on mature Automic Automation Engine solutions

Common challenges when working on mature Automic Automation Engine solutions

Workflow automation solutions today are more intelligent than ever before: as more enterprises come to depend on IT for an increasing number of core business processes, orchestrating a constantly diversifying stable of technologies, platforms and applications becomes more and more arduous. And, as automation systems grow over time, more and more processes are on-boarded. This means that automation systems are likely to increase in complexity – not so much because of the quantity of objects or the difficulty of the process, but because of the increasingly intricate relationships between objects can become difficult to follow and document.

Understanding exactly how these relationships work can be challenging for anyone – whether you’ve spent years working with the system or just picked it up. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the common challenges when dealing with mature Automic Automation Engine solutions, and how best to manage them.

Mature automation systems share some distinctive characteristics.

Automation systems have made it possible to reliably and efficiently carry out tasks that would ordinarily be susceptible to human error – tasks that are overly complex, repetitive and/or boring are the usual culprits. However, the flip-side of this is that as automation systems grow, they build a large ecosystem of workflows and objects with inter-dependencies. Even though automation solutions can contain hundreds, or even thousands of objects, the quantity of the objects isn’t as important as the relationship between them. Large and sophisticated automation systems also typically have a high grade of nesting, with nested workflows often existing within other nested workflows, and so forth. On top of this, each task within a workflow can have its own individual properties, all of which influence that particular task’s behaviour. For example, pre- and post-conditions may impact an individual task within a nested workflow. The active/inactive flag also affects individual tasks, which could result in some tasks being inactive without any obvious signs of this in the workflow view.

Additionally, some tasks have external dependencies which are often difficult to identify, since there are specific conditions that result in the external dependency being considered. Other objects aren’t executed by direct dependencies, but through a call in the script. Standard user interfaces also only give the option to view a single workflow at a time, which makes it difficult to assess the functionality and influence of a single job, and therefore make a modification to it without affecting functionality of other workflows. Regardless of whether you’ve been working with the system for a long time or you’ve just made a start, understanding these complex relationships can be arduous, to say the least.

Some common questions for mature Automic Automation Engine solutions

Working with a established automation solution certainly has its difficulties, but the most common challenges that people have when working with Automic Automation Engine boil down to four questions:

  • How do I view all objects within the workflow, including all nested workflows (including nested workflows within other nested workflows) until I reach the last object in the call stack?
  • How do I see where each object is being used?
  • How can I visualise external dependencies?
  • Is there a way to uncover hidden dependencies and nested workflows?

ExtractaFlow 2.0: Document Automic Automation Engine workflows quickly and easily

As a long time Automic partner, ECS Digital has extensive experience implementing and optimising Automic Automation Engine workflows in many different environments across a number of industries world wide. To help our clients get the most out of their automation workflows, we’ve built a full-featured desktop application called ExtractaFlow that makes it easy to understand the complex hierarchies of objects that exist in mature workflow automation solutions. What’s more, we’ve just released version 2.0 of ExtractaFlow, which includes a host of new features, fixes and improvements.

Some of the features of ExtractaFlow 2.0 include:

  • Full support for Automic Automation Engine version 11 and below.
  • Create technical drawings quickly and easily – ExtractaFlow’s intuitive interface means there’s virtually no learning curve.
  • Customise your drawing with a variety of colours and drawing options.
  • Access all your diagrams and shared content, all stored as local files on your desktop.
  • Label and colour-code task connectors.

ExtractaFlow makes it easy to keep tabs on individual objects within your Automic Automation Engine solution, no matter how complex it may be. With our easy-to-use tools and clean, simplistic interface, navigating your workflow will be easier than ever before. Visit our website now to sign up for a free two-week trial of ExtractaFlow 2.0 today!

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Andy CuretonCommon challenges when working on mature Automic Automation Engine solutions
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Unlocking the value of your IT department with Infrastructure Automation

Unlocking the value of your IT department with Infrastructure Automation

Information Technology (IT) companies in today’s business landscape are in a tricky position: as more and more of our personal and professional lives come to depend on IT, availability is fast becoming one of the most central requirements of our daily lives.

At the same time, IT companies today are expected to respond to increasingly more complex requests, and to deliver results in ever-decreasing windows of time. No matter how efficient your employees, workflows and processes may be, we’re rapidly approaching a position in which servicing the burgeoning IT needs of today’s population is becoming impossible by traditional means. One of the most effective solutions to these kinds of bottlenecks, and one of the central principles underpinning DevOps is Infrastructure Automation. In this blog, we’ll discuss how Infrastructure Automation can see you through the most difficult of times and ensure your clients receive the level of service they expect, come rain or shine.

Why is automating IT infrastructure and operations so important?

According to a study by Gartner, IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) accounts for approximately 50 percent of the total enterprise IT headcount. With budgets often being stretched to breaking point, being able to reduce the cost of even a single department can alleviate significant financial pressure. But with I&O amounting to roughly half of the enterprise IT workforce, the potential for financial savings or releasing capacity are exponentially greater. I&O, in the context of today’s data-driven and IT-dependent culture, is also a valuable business area to focus on for facilitating innovation, building out new services and experimenting with new possibilities. With less time spent on ensuring things are ticking over, your I&O staff will have far more opportunity to do the kind of work that matters to them – and your business.

More staff doesn’t equate to increased productivity

One of the more persistent results of the Industrial Revolution is that we tend to think of more as being better when it comes to business. In reality, though, there’s little correlation between the two – especially in the light of automation technology. The real meaning of productivity to a business is the amount of staff time that can be spent on work that brings value. By automating tasks that take up a lot of time but provide little value, you’re immediately increasing the productivity of your IT department and driving their Return on Investment (ROI) up as a result.

Infrastructure Automation provides a number of benefits to your organisation.

With virtually all business processes depending to some degree on technology in today’s marketplace, Infrastructure Automation isn’t simply a tool for increasing the efficiency of one particular department. Rather, it’s a means of freeing up resources wasted on mundane, error-prone tasks and assigning them to more appropriately profitable and meaningful pursuits. Often, this is a product of an implementation itself: by automating critical business processes that don’t require a high degree of creative thinking or human input, you’re enabling your staff to focus on more innovative, less repetitive work. You’re also enabling more activities to be delivered with the same resources, which is key with the increasing expectations for agility and speed to market in today’s business landscape.  Perhaps even more crucially, you’re giving your staff the chance to thrive – to do the work they want to do, and be great at it. The connected world means a world of alternative opportunities not only for your customers but also your staff. As Adam Jacob (CTO at Chef) says, “sad people build sad products, which in turn creates sad companies.” And, as Richard Branson says, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to. If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

ECS Digital is a Digital Transformation consultancy with over 12 years experience implementing DevOps solutions for companies around the world. If you’re interested in finding out more about our approach and the unique insights we can offer into how to transform your business with DevOps and IT Automation, download our free guide to DevOps Maturity Assessment.

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Andy CuretonUnlocking the value of your IT department with Infrastructure Automation
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How ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps

How ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps

Since the dawn of the digital age, and even long before that, our culture has been fascinated by the prospect of being able to talk to computers. There’s no better evidence of this than in film and literature – indeed, just about every sci-fi universe is bound to feature at least one form of artificial intelligence (AI) as a central role: without KITT, Knight Rider would have just been a guy with a fancy car. Without HAL 9000, the crew of the Discovery One in 2001: A Space Odyssey might have fared dramatically better. And without R2D2’s help, the Jedi prophecy would never have been kick-started and Luke Skywalker might have lived out his days as a simple farmer on Tatooine. In any event, a development that has been taking the DevOps world by storm in recent months is ChatOps – the practice of integrating ChatBots into a DevOps workflow. While it may still be a couple of years before it becomes sentient, there’s a lot to be said for implementing ChatOps in your delivery pipelines. In this blog, we’ll look at how ChatOps drives innovation, collaboration and transparency in enterprise, and how this facilitates good DevOps practice.

ChatOps puts a human face to automation.

ChatOps centres around conversation-driven automation. What this boils down to is that any command can be handled via an English-language ‘conversation’ with a ChatBot of your choice: from monitoring, to provisioning, to deploying code, to responding to security alerts and even making you coffee! And, while there are several freely available ChatBot scripts – the most popular being Hubot (Javascript), Lita (Ruby), and Err (Python), all of which are open source – it’s easy to customise them to work with specific plug-ins and scripts. This makes it easy to customise your ChatBot to suit the purposes of your organisation, or even a particular project. Ultimately, ChatOps abstracts the complexity of the process and allows complex automation tasks to be carried out with a simple, easily typed command. The upshot of this is that a single message sent to your ChatBot can accomplish what might take a significant amount of time – and, consequently, money – to carry out normally. This is also a bonus for non-technical teams by providing them with the ability to execute complex processes that previously they might not have had the technical skills to achieve.

ChatOps brings everyone’s work to one central location.

With ChatOps, wasting time trying to figure out which of your co-workers ran a particular command or whether the command was even run is a thing of the past – by using a chat client everyone’s work exists in one central place that is visible and accessible to everyone. This encourages collaboration among your team members and the inherent transparency ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. The benefits to the overall quality of work and working environment are huge here – by bringing your entire team’s work together, there are almost limitless opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas across departments that might not happen if they worked in isolation. ChatBots also facilitate innovation in their own right – firstly, by freeing up time for your team to spend on developing new and innovative projects, and secondly, by providing a framework for innovation by creating plug-ins for the ChatBot itself. The only limit to how innovative you can be is in how far you’re willing to go in customising your ChatBot to suit your needs.

Don’t stagnate by taking ChatOps for granted.

It’s (hopefully) pretty clear from this article that ChatOps provides great opportunities for collaboration, innovation and transparency, but taking your ChatBot for granted could have the opposite effect. Remember that behind the ChatBot are complex processes that have been automated. Encouraging all members of your team to maintain the code and scripts that are in place as well develop enhancements to enable new processes to be accessible from the chat client will go a long way towards staving off complacency. Without this you would create a new sub team within your teams of people that can only execute ChatOps commands and not create or maintain them.

At the same time, new starters in your organisation will benefit from first understanding how the nuts and bolts of your processes work before moving on to using a ChatBot to execute those processes. Once again, this comes down in large part to the culture in your workplace, but bear in mind that using ChatOps should encourage the transparency and collaboration that are key elements of a DevOps culture, which ultimately helps to deliver better software faster.

ECS Digital is a DevOps consultancy with 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps solutions for companies all around the world. If you’re interested in finding out more about our approach and the unique insights we can offer into how to transform your business with DevOps, contact us to request a free DevOps Maturity Assessment.

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Andy CuretonHow ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps
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The do’s and don’ts of Development Automation: What you can’t afford to automate

The do’s and don’ts of Development Automation: What you can’t afford to automate

A question that often comes up when we’re first implementing automation systems for our clients is “What shouldn’t I automate?” It’s a fair question to ask, especially if you’re new to development automation and you’re experiencing the benefits of automating processes for the first time. However, there’s not always a cut-and-dry answer to what you shouldn’t automate – most of the considerations around what should and shouldn’t be automated come down to the way your internal office culture works, and the unique context of your business. But, generally speaking, there are some guidelines for what you should and shouldn’t consider automating. In this article, we’ll look at a few examples of development processes that you should avoid automating at all costs.

Above everything else, use your common sense.

Ultimately, the reasons for automating processes come down to a few common factors: saving money, freeing up more time for developers to work on more lucrative tasks, and minimising the chance for human error in business-critical processes. When considering what to include and what not to include in development automation, it helps to weigh up the value that will come from automating a process versus the costs (financial as well as operational) of establishing the automation. Depending on how your business operates, the number of processes that can be safely automated will vary, but at the end of the day it comes down to simply balancing the value of the automation against the resources it will consume to set up.

Develop some basic criteria for deciding what not to automate.

Broadly speaking, there are a few types of development processes that happen in the daily operation of your business: 

Tasks that are labour- or time-intensive, but require negligible amounts of on-the-spot thinking or creativity to carry out.
Tasks that require little to no creative problem-solving and can be solved quickly, but must be carried out on a regular or routine basis. 
Tasks that vary in time- and labour-intensiveness, but require a high degree of precision.
Ad-hoc tasks that vary in time- and labour-intensiveness, but require a high degree of creative problem-solving.

It’s a well-documented fact that as human beings, we aren’t ideally suited for routinely carrying out monotonous, repetitive tasks – especially ones that require high levels of precision. Computers, on the other hand, are perfect for this role. While the first three of these tasks are suitable for automation, it would be a poor choice to automate the fourth task on the list as it requires a level of creativity that is impossible to achieve through automation.

Deciding what to automate is as important as deciding how to automate.

Deciding which processes to include in your development automation is only half of the problem – the other half is deciding how to go about automating these processes. There is a huge variety of automation software available, both open source and proprietary, and each has its own specialist areas and strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the best possible software for your purposes can make a huge difference to how much value your automation solution will provide, so it’s worth doing some groundwork. Some software will work better within your environment than others, and you’ll likely need to use more than one tool to automate your processes end to end – your ideal automation partner should be able to advise on the best software for your context, and provide a variety of options, both open source and proprietary, to choose from.

ECS Digital provides everything you need to start implementing DevOps in your organisation – from consultation, to implementation, to ongoing training. Our platform-agnostic approach means that we select what’s truly best for your working environment and implement the most valuable solution. If you’d like to know more about our services and what automation could mean for your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Andy CuretonThe do’s and don’ts of Development Automation: What you can’t afford to automate
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