Virtual assistants move into DevOps

0 Posted by - 23rd February 2017 - Technology

Companies embracing DevOps practices are turning to chat-based and voice-guided virtual assistants to monitor applications, provision virtual machines and perform other operations. Such tools are instrumental in keeping developers and IT operations staff on the same page as they prioritize speedier software deployment in the digital era.

“The problems you run into in DevOps is teams are distributed,” says Milan Hanson, a Forrester Research analyst who focuses on infrastructure and operations. “You can have the bot automate activities, address it in the chat like it’s another person, and it will perform what you’ve asked it to do and bring the result back into the chat channel where everyone can see it. In a crisis, when people put together a war room or a SWAT team, being able to do that virtually through a chat is a huge advantage.”

Speed, collaboration and automation are critical in DevOps, in which software engineers and IT operations professionals buddy up to build, test and ship software. DevOps teams rely on automation tools to write, test and rewrite code, quickly launching new features and scaling them back if they don’t work.

davis slack 1 Dynatrace

Davis is a virtual assistant that let you use either Alexa or Slack to ask questions about the health of corporate software. (Click for larger image.)

Chatbots and voicebots are particularly useful in detecting and resolving problems. For example, software engineers investigating application performance problems can ask virtual assistants who made the last code check-in rather than bug team members or search logs. In this age of ChatOps and VoiceOps, companies are leveraging platforms such as Slack and Amazon.com’s Alexa to automate such repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

Meet Davis, the Jarvis for DevOps

Dynatrace, which provides application performance monitoring software, has launched Davis, a virtual assistant that answers questions about the health of corporate software without requiring IT workers to scout dashboards. Such automation is critical as IT departments are struggling with managing the millions or even billions of application interdependencies in their organizations, Alois Reitbauer, Dynatrace’s chief technology strategist, tells CIO.com.

A user can open a speaking dialog with Davis through Alexa or by chatting with it via Slack to elicit answers to questions such as: What performance problems impacted my revenue today? Can you tell me about user activity levels? Are there any capacity issues? Were there any outages last night? While the Davis Slack chatbot is intended for IT, Reitbauer says the Alexa-enabled version of Davis is targeted toward executives who wish to request more basic performance reports from the comfort of their office.

“It’s just like you’re talking to another human IT team member, except a person would never be able to detect and bring to the surface root causes with such speed and precision,” says Jeppe Lindberg, an application performance manager at Denmark retail giant COOP who was among the first to trial Davis.

Davis is based on artificial intelligence technology Dynatrace built to make its core platform smarter in an era of cloud and microservices deployment, both key attributes of DevOps programs. “We realized a lot of our customers were already using Slack,” Reitbauer says. “We thought we would bring the monitoring tools to where people were actually working rather than make them switch back and forth (between Slack and Dynatrace).

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