As a modern worker, you have to split your attention across different tasks throughout the day—answering emails, checking Slack, fielding questions from colleagues, and more. Moving from unrelated task to another like this is called context switching. While switching tasks is necessary, the number of times you shift contexts can wreck productivity. And there are few groups in an organization that encounter the time pressure that developers face on a daily basis. Collaboration is no exception.
One of my colleagues recently spoke with Jacob Kluiev at Cprime about collaboration and how it impacts developers in terms of machine identity management. Here is how Jacob sets up a common scenario for collaboration.
According to Jacob, one thing is true for developers as well as workers: we all have access to several systems. For example, Jacob has access to about 20 different corporate systems, and the reality is there are only two or three he regularly uses. That leaves a ton of other systems that he might need occasionally to do one thing or check one thing or approve one thing. When collaborating becomes that noisy and cluttered, context switching becomes particularly painful. It's kind of like the 80-20 rule, and ultimately, it's really distracting to say, "Okay, I'm going to have to spend time to log into this one system to do this one thing."
As developers at Cprime, a global technology solutions provider, Jacob and his team live with this struggle on a daily basis. And they began to wonder if there were ways that they could help others alleviate the pains of context shifting. That’s when they began to think about simplifying complex processes, like those that have traditionally hampered machine identity creation and deployment. So, they were excited to join the Machine Identity Management Development Fund and integrate Venafi with Slack. This way developers can move fast within their favorite messaging program while keeping machine identities protected in the process.
Slack has developed advanced functionality that allows it to be used as a central hub to do a lot of things in a lot of different systems. Granted, developers are never going to be able to do “real work” in there. But a lot of these things that involve logging into a specific system to do just one thing can be pushed into Slack. It’s very well suited to functions like approving something, creating a new ticket or checking the status of a ticket. That's where companies can get real efficiencies with these types of integration apps.
The average Joe might prefer Facebook Messenger or Telegram or WhatsApp, but Slack is certainly a favorite messenger in the developer community. When developers are using Slack for things like workflow or approvals or even denials and alerts for machine identities, then a Venafi-Slack integration makes a huge amount of sense. Developers can then act on things that are happening with machine identities through a quick and easy interface on Slack.
The connector made a lot of sense because most developers are using Slack, and for a development company, especially for an international company like ours, Slack is a critical tool for collaboration. Slack is not only a messenger, but it can also help to run applications inside it. It has even replaced many traditional mobile applications, so you don't need to build corporate mobile apps. You can use the functionality of Slack to do simple things like time tracking, reminders, announcements and more.
But in Slack you can also make connections between companies. So, for instance, developers can make a connection in Slack with another group or company to collaborate and install shared apps in it, so they can use the same application within this connection.
In addition to this rich functionality that is built into Slack, you have an ability to extend it and even better, they have this Block Kit API, which is basically an HTML for Slack. It's great and allows you to do a lot of things with applications.
Let’s say your developers are already in Slack, and if they don't have this connection or automation, then they'd have to go to another program or another tool to generate or manage machine identities. That slows things down! It just makes developer lives a lot easier if they can work within a single communication platform. If a developer is spending most of their time communicating in Slack, if they can do more of their job in Slack without the necessity of going and logging into another web portal or another VM somewhere, it just makes it easier and quicker for their workflow.
How does this play out? Here's a great example of how Cprime uses Slack to reduce context switching. When Cprime acquired some independent companies awhile back, they inherited some historical accounting applications that send invoices to their customers. They also calculate salaries and so on and needed to check hours as input information. It was quite complicated for developers to have an additional tracking system, but Slack allowed them to track time simultaneously in both. It is amazingly helpful to have a connector to old systems that allows developers, with one button, to track time in old and new systems.
But let’s talk about how the Slack Connector with Venafi works.
- Basically, the user initiates a Slash command (e. g. /create, /renew, /revoke) in Slack.
- The Slack Connector for Venafi receives the command request from Slack and processes it accordingly.
- The Slack Connector for Venafi then forwards the processed request to the Venafi Platform.
- Venafi Platform responds to Slack Connector, processes the response and replies to the Slack channel where the initial request originated.
- In case of an error, the Venafi Platform forwards it to Slack Connector for Venafi where it handles the error and sends a response to the Slack channel. It’s that simple.
The result of this connector increases product workflow with less switching between applications. And of course, machine identities are secured through an improved and modern development user experience.
The Slack Connector for Venafi developed by Cprime is now available through the Venafi Marketplace.
This blog features solutions from the ever-growing Venafi Ecosystem, where industry leaders are building and collaborating to protect more machine identities across organizations like yours. Learn more about how the Venafi Ecosystem is evolving above and beyond just technical integrations.