Ergon Informatik gives every developer a customizable workspace with Mattermost
Ergon Informatik AG is an IT software development company headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland that builds customized software solutions for clients and also offers some standalone software products. The company, which was founded in 1984, has more than 400 employees who work in the office for at least two days a week, and up to three days remotely from their homes.
Needing a new self-hosted solution after their messaging solutions was deprecated
Ergon had been using a self-hosted messaging solution for communication and collaboration. After learning that the service was being deprecated, the team began looking for a new messaging and collaboration platform that would enable them to communicate with each other securely while giving technical operators the tools they need to do their best work.
Initially, the team examined alternative encrypted messaging solutions. Quickly, Ergon realized that while such solutions were great for one-on-one chats, they weren’t ready for business use because they lacked enterprise-grade features, like single sign-on.
After discovering they couldn’t host Slack on-premises — one of their key requirements — the Ergon team ultimately came across two open source solutions, including Mattermost. Since 80% of Ergon’s employees are IT engineers, the idea of using an open source solution was an attractive one. After comparing the two solutions, Ergon decided that Mattermost was the clear choice.
“We picked Mattermost mostly because of technical functionality,” says Steven Fluck, senior software engineer at Ergon. “When we researched the platform, we saw that it was way more robust than all the competitors.”
Migrating all data, including emojis, to Mattermost
When it came time to migrate data from their messaging platform to Mattermost, the Ergon team examined several different options. Ultimately, they decided that no solutions on the market could deliver what they wanted — “all of it: messages, emojis, attachments, you name it” — so they decided to build their own migration tool and open source it.
“I developed a migration tool, Migratemost, for this purpose,” Fluck explains. “That migration tool was used by other companies, too.”
Ergon manages its Mattermost instance using Ansible, and they also use LDAP for login and group sync, so that “the right users are in the right teams automatically,” Fluck says.
Equipping each developer with the perfect tool for the job
As an open source solution, Mattermost is infinitely customizable. Ergon has truly embraced the full potential of Mattermost by allowing all engineers to create any webhook they’d like. To date, they’ve implemented over 90 incoming webhooks to automatically receive things like build notifications, system monitoring alerts, and notifications from platforms like GitHub and GitLab directly in Mattermost.
“If a dev has an idea, they just go for it,” Fluck says. “We encourage developers to do whatever helps them the most because there are so many ways you can interact and integrate with Mattermost.”
Fluck attributes the ease with which developers can integrate Mattermost to the product’s robust documentation, with complete access to source code.
“Every developer can build the perfect tool for the job,” Fluck continues. “They can use Mattermost however it fits their needs, their projects, and their use cases.”
Streamlining release management with Playbooks
Ergon uses Mattermost Playbooks for release management. Previously, they’d been using checklists in a different collaboration tool, but that process left much to be desired.
“It was very annoying,” Fluck says. “You’d copy the page every time, there was no one in charge, and it was easy to skip things. It was a poor experience.”
Now, the team uses Playbooks for release checklists, and the process is much smoother.
“It works very well,” he continues. “We’re very happy with that.”
Centralizing communication across the organization
According to Fluck, Mattermost is the only company-wide communications tool Ergon uses apart from email and phone, even after Teams was introduced as a solution for video calls. Out of 400 employees, Ergon’s Mattermost instance boasts 350 daily active users.
“It’s truly a very central communication channel,” Fluck says.
Ergon organizes conversations into channels. For example, there’s a technical channel for mobile development and a programmer channel where employees go when they have technical problems. There’s also a number of channels dedicated to hobbies like chess, motorbikes, and even Ergon’s company band.
“Some teams also have channels where they collaborate with customers,” Fluck says. “It’s an easy way to send notifications, summaries, updates, and questions to the customer. We just chat in Mattermost and figure out how to implement the features they’re asking for.”
Future-proofing collaboration with Mattermost
With Mattermost, Ergon has found a collaboration solution that can grow alongside them. Not only does the company continuously update and integrate its own Mattermost instance, Ergon also helps customers configure Airlock, its proprietary web application firewall (WAF) product, to work with Mattermost.
“We always upgrade to the newest version each month,” Fluck says. “We’ve found the new mobile app to be particularly beneficial as well. Now, when people are on the go or walking around the office, they can stay connected on the mobile app.”
Does Ergon have any data to share about ROI?
“If you turned off Mattermost, there would be a developer revolution,” Fluck says with a laugh. “If someone is looking for a good messaging tool for technical teams, I would definitely recommend Mattermost — 100%.”
Image Source: Ergon Informatik