How we use Hipchat to work remotely

By David Mytton,
CEO & Founder of Server Density.

Published on the 10th April, 2014.

Server Density started as a remote working company, and it wasn’t until our 3rd year that we opened an office in London. Even now, most of the team still work remotely from around the UK, Portugal and Spain so we use a variety of tools to help us stay connected and work efficiently together.

One of the most important is Hipchat. We use this as a chat room but it’s also our company news feed. Everything that goes on during the day (and night) gets posted and we use a variety of rooms for different purposes.

The main room

Everyone is always logged in here during their working day and it also acts as a real time news feed of what is going on. General chat happens here but it’s mostly a way for everyone to see what’s happening. This is particularly useful if you go away and come back later because you can see what has happened.

Main Hipchat room

We use various integrations and the Hipchat API to post in events from things like:

  • Github activity: commits, pull requests, comments.
  • Buildbot: Build activity.
  • Deploys: From our own custom build system, we can see when deploys are triggered (and by whom) and then when they get deployed to each server.
  • Signups: New trial signups get posted in as we often like to see who is using the product.
  • Account changes: New purchases and package changes
  • JIRA: All our issue tracking and development work is tracked with JIRA, which posts some activity like new issues and status changes.
  • Zendesk: New support tickets and Twitter mentions so everyone can keep an eye on emerging issues.
  • Alerts: We use some of our competitors to help us maintain an independent monitor of our uptime, and pipe in alerts using the new Server Density HipChat integration and PagerDuty.

Ops war room

All incidents from our alerting systems get piped into a war room so we can see what’s going on in real time, chronological order and not be distracted by other events. The key here is maintaining a sterile cockpit rule so we use this room to only discuss ongoing incidents. This also is useful for other people (e.g. support) to track what’s happening without interrupting the responders.

Server Density hipchat

Bot

We have a bot that runs in all of our chat rooms. It’s fairly simple and based off Hubot but allows us to do things like query Google Images or check the status of Github.

Bot

At a glance

We use our own server monitoring ops dashboard on the TV in the office using a Chromecast and I also have an iPad at my desk which constantly shows the Hipchat room, so I can see things as they happen throughout the day.

Server Density office

  • DanDanovich

    Wouldn’t (free) Bitrix24 work much better for managing a remote team than HipChat?

    • We don’t really need an intranet. We use Google Apps so make extensive use of Docs and Google+ for all that.

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