High-trust collaboration: Real-world lessons from implementing Mattermost at scale

Managing the flow of information within an organization can be a daunting task even for small teams. But for large corporations, creating a communication and collaboration workflow to meet the needs of thousands of users—while meeting their standards for security and compliance—can be a huge challenge. 

So what does it take to maintain secure communication for tens of thousands of users? Mike DeBonis of Brightscout, a long-time partner of Mattermost, recently shared how a Fortune 500 company used Mattermost to implement a collaboration and workflow solution at scale. 

In this video, Mike offers a deep dive into their implementation including how they set up network isolated collaboration with custom access controls, real-time content scanning and malware detection, EMM-wrapped mobile applications integrated with DevOps workflows and tools like Jira, GitHub, and Jenkins. Watch the video below, and read on to learn some of our key takeaways on deploying Mattermost for a large organization.

Scaling collaboration software is more than a technical concern

Mike shared that it is key to remember that implementing and scaling a new system requires more than the technical consideration of deploying it. With over 20 teams and 34,000 people using Mattermost for collaboration, this Fortune 500 company needed to understand how to manage teams and channels effectively, from training and supporting users to managing compliance risks.

To design a successful implementation, Mike and his team started small, rolling Mattermost out to a small cohort of key users to better understand what they needed to use Mattermost. This beta user group, which included compliance officers, allowed the team to collect questions and feedback on Mattermost and observe their usage behaviors. From there, they were able to design an onboarding process that would help ensure wide-scale adoption and growth. Fortunately, Mattermost has onboarding features and plugins that help import users and create a smooth onboarding experience, such as AD/LDAP groups and a customizable welcome bot.

Every organization requires a unique technical deployment

There’s no one right answer for how to deploy software at scale, because every organization has its own unique requirements and constraints—which means there’s no such thing as an “out of the box” solution for large organizations. In this organization’s case, the Mattermost initiative was used as the test pilot for adopting Azure Cloud. “It was great in that we got a lot of attention and had access to cloud infrastructure, but on the challenging side of it we were limited in what we were allowed to use,” says Mike. “We were essentially restricted to basic services—VMs, load balancer, and Azure storage accounts.”

Because of this, opting for an open source collaboration platform that provides both security and flexibility was key for this Fortune 500 organization. “The nice thing with Mattermost is that while the reference architecture out there is great, Mattermost is really flexible in the way you can deploy it,” Mike says. “There are lots of different solutions to any given organization’s constraints.”

Mattermost architecture design
Mattermost architecture design for this Fortune 500 company.

Overall, keeping their implementation as simple as possible was essential. The organization made a conscious effort during implementation to keep the complexity of the system as low as possible, only introducing complexity where absolutely necessary. 

Mike noted that running load tests and implementing performance monitoring was a critical early step for the team, giving them insights into user behaviors once they started using Mattermost. These helped them identify potential performance issues before they became problems. 

Integrations unlock the true value of collaboration platforms

The true measure of success for a collaboration platform comes not from using it in addition to other tools, but integrating it into the organization’s workflow to help users realize greater efficiencies. “There’s an early stage of adoption of Mattermost where organizations just get used to the messaging part of it,” Mike says. “But once they’re comfortable with those basics, they quickly look at getting more of their workflow built into the tool. The conversation goes from ‘How do I do this in Mattermost?’ to ‘How do I get this integrated?'”

The organization has rolled out a number of plugins—a mix of those offered in the Mattermost Integrations Marketplace and custom-developed ones. “There was a set of features that the compliance team needed,” says Mike. “Fortunately, the plugin framework that Mattermost provides gave us a lot of flexibility to add some additional features that were geared towards compliance and privacy. That helped check those boxes early on and make sure they were comfortable with the broader roll-out.”

Learn more about real-world Mattermost use cases

Want to learn more about what a Mattermost deployment looks like in the wild? Check out our Customers page for additional user stories from organizations like Affirm, Bungie, and Insight Data Science on how they’re using Mattermost to scale collaboration.

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Ashley Dotterweich

Ashley Dotterweich is the Head of Content at Mattermost.

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