VictorOps is a recent addition to our support stack. The best part about VictorOps is how they use a timeline to collaborate amongst team members. VictorOps is an elegant way to keep our team in the loop about outages. It also integrates well with Slack. This setup enables us to quickly react to any problems that make it into production, work together and resolve them faster. #Collaboration #MonitoringAggregation #Monitoring #GroupChatNotifications
We used CircleCI in conjunction with GitHub to achieve an integrated version control system continuous integration setup. CircleCI automatically runs our builds in a clean Docker container or virtual machine on every commit allowing us to stay on stop of any regressions as they arise. Additionally the notification system keeps our team up to date when issues do arise so we can get them fixed quickly. It even integrates with Slack to further reduce the friction in staying up to date with the status of our builds. With the automated deployment system once a build passes we can have it automatically deployed to our production environment so we can make sure our users always have the latest and greatest features.
Using Screenhero via Slack was getting to be pretty horrible. Video and sound quality was often times pretty bad and worst of all the service just wasn't reliable. We all had high hopes when the acquisition went through but ultimately, the product just didn't live up to expectations. We ended up trying Zoom after I had heard about it from some friends at other companies. We noticed the video/sound quality was better, and more importantly it was super reliable. The Slack integration was awesome (just type /zoom and it starts a call)
You can schedule recurring calls which is helpful. There's a G Suite (Google Calendar) integration which lets you add a Zoom call (w/dial in info + link to web/mobile) with the click of a button.
Meeting recordings (video and audio) are really nice, you get recordings stored in the cloud on the higher tier plans. One of our engineers, Jerome, actually built a cool little Slack integration using the Slack API and Zoom API so that every time a recording is processed, a link gets posted to the "event-recordings" channel. The iOS app is great too!
We use CircleCI for #ContinuousIntegration. Workflows are configured via a simple yaml file and run inside isolated Docker containers. CircleCI runs ESLint, Brakeman, and RuboCop to enforce code quality and security best practices. It integrates with GitHub and Slack to notify us of build progress and pass/failure statuses.
Often enough I have to explain my way of going about setting up a CI/CD pipeline with multiple deployment platforms. Since I am a bit tired of yapping the same every single time, I've decided to write it up and share with the world this way, and send people to read it instead ;). I will explain it on "live-example" of how the Rome got built, basing that current methodology exists only of readme.md and wishes of good luck (as it usually is ;)).
It always starts with an app, whatever it may be and reading the readmes available while Vagrant and VirtualBox is installing and updating. Following that is the first hurdle to go over - convert all the instruction/scripts into Ansible playbook(s), and only stopping when doing a clear
vagrant up or
vagrant reload we will have a fully working environment. As our Vagrant environment is now functional, it's time to break it! This is the moment to look for how things can be done better (too rigid/too lose versioning? Sloppy environment setup?) and replace them with the right way to do stuff, one that won't bite us in the backside. This is the point, and the best opportunity, to upcycle the existing way of doing dev environment to produce a proper, production-grade product.
I should probably digress here for a moment and explain why. I firmly believe that the way you deploy production is the same way you should deploy develop, shy of few debugging-friendly setting. This way you avoid the discrepancy between how production work vs how development works, which almost always causes major pains in the back of the neck, and with use of proper tools should mean no more work for the developers. That's why we start with Vagrant as developer boxes should be as easy as
vagrant up, but the meat of our product lies in Ansible which will do meat of the work and can be applied to almost anything: AWS, bare metal, docker, LXC, in open net, behind vpn - you name it.
We must also give proper consideration to monitoring and logging hoovering at this point. My generic answer here is to grab Elasticsearch, Kibana, and Logstash. While for different use cases there may be better solutions, this one is well battle-tested, performs reasonably and is very easy to scale both vertically (within some limits) and horizontally. Logstash rules are easy to write and are well supported in maintenance through Ansible, which as I've mentioned earlier, are at the very core of things, and creating triggers/reports and alerts based on Elastic and Kibana is generally a breeze, including some quite complex aggregations.
If we are happy with the state of the Ansible it's time to move on and put all those roles and playbooks to work. Namely, we need something to manage our CI/CD pipelines. For me, the choice is obvious: TeamCity. It's modern, robust and unlike most of the light-weight alternatives, it's transparent. What I mean by that is that it doesn't tell you how to do things, doesn't limit your ways to deploy, or test, or package for that matter. Instead, it provides a developer-friendly and rich playground for your pipelines. You can do most the same with Jenkins, but it has a quite dated look and feel to it, while also missing some key functionality that must be brought in via plugins (like quality REST API which comes built-in with TeamCity). It also comes with all the common-handy plugins like Slack or Apache Maven integration.
The exact flow between CI and CD varies too greatly from one application to another to describe, so I will outline a few rules that guide me in it: 1. Make build steps as small as possible. This way when something breaks, we know exactly where, without needing to dig and root around. 2. All security credentials besides development environment must be sources from individual Vault instances. Keys to those containers should exist only on the CI/CD box and accessible by a few people (the less the better). This is pretty self-explanatory, as anything besides dev may contain sensitive data and, at times, be public-facing. Because of that appropriate security must be present. TeamCity shines in this department with excellent secrets-management. 3. Every part of the build chain shall consume and produce artifacts. If it creates nothing, it likely shouldn't be its own build. This way if any issue shows up with any environment or version, all developer has to do it is grab appropriate artifacts to reproduce the issue locally. 4. Deployment builds should be directly tied to specific Git branches/tags. This enables much easier tracking of what caused an issue, including automated identifying and tagging the author (nothing like automated regression testing!).
Speaking of deployments, I generally try to keep it simple but also with a close eye on the wallet. Because of that, I am more than happy with AWS or another cloud provider, but also constantly peeking at the loads and do we get the value of what we are paying for. Often enough the pattern of use is not constantly erratic, but rather has a firm baseline which could be migrated away from the cloud and into bare metal boxes. That is another part where this approach strongly triumphs over the common Docker and CircleCI setup, where you are very much tied in to use cloud providers and getting out is expensive. Here to embrace bare-metal hosting all you need is a help of some container-based self-hosting software, my personal preference is with Proxmox and LXC. Following that all you must write are ansible scripts to manage hardware of Proxmox, similar way as you do for Amazon EC2 (ansible supports both greatly) and you are good to go. One does not exclude another, quite the opposite, as they can live in great synergy and cut your costs dramatically (the heavier your base load, the bigger the savings) while providing production-grade resiliency.
I love Jell! We have a remote team at StackShare so we need a very easy way to keep up with what everyone does day-to-day. I've worked in remote teams before and we were doing physical standups, with time differences and such this can be really troublesome and effect productivity. When I get into the office I open up Jell and log the tasks I did yesterday and what I plan on doing today. I then throughout the day can see in Slack when other people post their standups. I find this very efficient and more productive than traditional standups. Jell has become a vital tool in our workflow at StackShare
#RemoteTeam #Standups #Communications
We are highly dependent on G Suite for all our collaboration and productivity needs, from Gmail and Calendar to Sheets and Docs. While it may not be as robust as Microsoft's offerings in those areas, it's totally cloud-based, we've never had any downtime issues and it integrates well with our other tools like Slack. We write and collaborate on all our specs/PRDs in Docs, share analyses via Sheets and handle our meetings via Calendar. #StackDecisionsLaunch #ProductivitySuite #Collaboration #DocumentCollaboration
Zulip has easily the best threading model among all the chat applications and I prefer it over Slack, Mattermost, RocketChat, Hipchat, Discord etc. Each and every conversation is a seperate thread and has a topic. This model makes it extremely easier to catch up and participate in conversations. Once you get used to the threading model of Zulip its hard to tolerate threading model like Slack which is really inefficient and time wasting.
Our team is made up of both remote and local employees. After doing daily standups over Zoom for a while, we started looking for a better solution. Having a fixed time for video meetings was problematic due to time zone differences. And the information that was exchanged was lost to whoever missed the meeting, and not super accessible even if the video was recorded. We also had a goal of minimizing the number of video meetings in our workflow since they're a bit disruptive.
After some discussion, we landed on Jell. It works for a remote/hybrid team, since you can post your status any time. It integrates with Slack, so all posts are collected in one channel. This allows you to browse posts and access information much more easily than you would in video form. It also makes it easy to keep track of daily tasks via a todo-style checklist. We've been using Jell for several months now and it's worked out great for our team.
Standups #MeetingTools RemoteTeam