How we use Slack to dramatically reduce AWS costs & improve security

Chris Ellis | Wed, 28 Dec 2016

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Slack is an awesome tool that we love. It makes it easy for teams to communicate with each other and with their automated systems. It can also make a great tool in the management of your AWS infrastructure.

Some of you will already be familiar with the term ‘ChatOps’ whereby you make common commands executable from within chat rooms. It was originally coined by Github to describe their growing culture of “putting tools in the middle of the conversation”.

Not only does that give you control where you need it, it also enables everyone in that room to have visibility of what’s happening across their technology stack in near real-time.

AWS Automation For Slack

In the case of AWS Automation this helps empower developers to own and shape their own infrastructure, while keeping the folks in the Finance department happy that the company is developing a cost conscious culture.

That's why we felt it essential to give all paying GorillaStack customers access to their environment and configurations through Slack.

UPDATE!! We got so much feedback from our customers about how awesome our Slack integration is, that we decided to build a seperate standalone bot. Now you don't even need a GorillaStack account to monitor all your CloudTrail Events from within Slack!

Sign up for our FREE AWS Slack Bot now - no need to even be a GorillaStack customer!

Add to Slack

AWS recently announced that you can now use AWS Lambda to post CloudWatch alarms and other simple notifications to your team’s Slack channel as an incoming webhook to track IT operations.

The blueprints that AWS have created enable the construction of chat-based tools that participate in conversations within Slack. There are a handful of blueprints available at launch, including slack-echo- for writing bots that can respond to commands, cloudwatch-alarm-to-slack- for writing bots that provide status reports and notifications.

We have witnessed first hand how powerful this can be. Using GorillaStack’s Slack integration our users have really enjoyed putting control in the hands of the developers who use the resources day to day, and not just the central DevOps team that traditionally manages the cloud configuration and is responsible for AWS cost savings.

At GorillaStack our philosophy is it to empower and enable end-user developers to be responsible for their own infrastructure.

Manage EC2 Instances in Slack

If you’re managing multiple EC2 instances and have several developers that need to use certain instances at different times it can be quite a hassle to manage them.

GorillaStack helps you manage multiple AWS instances without leaving them on all the time and running up the cost. With proper tags in place, we can easily target a service or an environment.

Through GorillaStack’s new Slack integration you can automate and manage a bunch of your AWS tasks and tools that help you turn instances on / off or snoozes them. You can even run and monitor Auto Scaling groups from your Slack channel following a one time configuration within the GorillaStack app.

Slack GorillaStack

If you add in GorillaStack’s alerting capabilities, you can keep your team notified and up-to-date as to the status of your critical systems through your Slack channel too. You can configure AWS billing alerts based on surpassing thresholds or just regular updates.

These simple concepts can be very powerful in practice and help make everyone more productive.

By building tools like GorillaStack into a chat room you can automate commands by a bot, and communication doesn’t become an afterthought to operational processes but over time becomes core to how you operate.

If you don’t already have a GorillaStack account, you can try it for free here.

We use the same approach to HipChat too by the way. More on that at a later date.

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