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AWS Chatbot tool advances AWS' DevOps capabilities

ChatOps has become a pillar of DevOps in recent years. To that end, AWS has rolled out a managed chatbot service that integrates with Slack and Chime.

AWS has juiced up its DevOps capabilities with a managed service that integrates a chatbot with Slack and the Amazon Chime communications platform.

The move ties into the ChatOps trend where DevOps team members use chat tools to talk to each other and receive system notifications. Chat rooms and channels foster better collaboration and transparency, according to ChatOps adherents.

AWS Chatbot, now in beta, is a fully managed service that works with Slack and Amazon Chime to deliver notifications and support commands against certain AWS services. It is enabled by Amazon Simple Notification Service, which serves as the integration bridge between the bot and other AWS services, the company said in a blog post.

Many customers may already use SNS notifications, but send them as emails. AWS Chatbot redirects those emails to chat rooms, and customers only need to add the topics to Slack or Chime chat clients in most cases, according to a documentation page.

Initially, AWS Chatbot supports Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Health, AWS Budgets, AWS Security Hub, Amazon GuardDuty and AWS CloudFormation. This grouping comes as little surprise, given its broad relevance across development and operations teams with AWS DevOps strategies.

Early customer Revcontent, which offers a digital content marketing platform, benefited from AWS Chatbot when it raised an alert on problems with a load balancer, and helped the company avoid an outage, it said in a statement.

The trend toward ChatOps goes back several years. DevOps teams have used it for several purposes, such as knowledge management, task automation and incident management.

Many DevOps teams build their own bots and integrate them with the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft offers Azure Bot Service and Bot Framework as one way to do this, while Google Cloud has Dialogflow.

At present, AWS Chatbot's functionality is somewhat limited, given its focus on one-way notifications rather than more interactive conversations, particularly ones that would allow users to take direct actions with AWS services. It also lacks a prebuilt integration with Teams, which some may see as a significant functional gap. Microsoft recently claimed it has 13 million daily users for Teams, compared to the 10 million Slack reported earlier this year.

Still, it drew praise from one AWS user and consultant.

Hopefully this is a sign of AWS prioritizing developer experience.
Ryan MarshDevOps coach, Stack.io

"[AWS' Chatbot] beats rolling your own, which is a fun nerdy side project, but many teams don't have the time," said Ryan Marsh, a DevOps coach at consultancy TheStack.io in Houston. "Hopefully this is a sign of AWS prioritizing developer experience."

AWS sought to do just that with the Cloud Development Kit, which gives developers the ability to define infrastructure-as-code with familiar programming languages, rather than declarative JSON and XML files, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said in a previous interview with TechTarget.

"We see customers building more and more complex and larger applications using only serverless components, and we're learning from that," Vogels added.

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