Galois stays in control of company data without compromising on collaboration with Mattermost
"Email is one of those things people read when they get around to it. Since we’ve moved to Mattermost, we have real-time chats taking place."Dan West IT Systems Administrator, Galois
Galois’ distributed team, which serves leading government agencies including NASA and the Department of Defense, switched from Jabber to Mattermost for modern, self-hosted communication. The feature-rich messaging platform makes it faster and easier for staff to stay connected and to solve complex problems, while IT enjoys the benefit of staying in control of company data.
Galois is a technology company that helps customers solve difficult computer science and cybersecurity problems through advanced research and development. The company, which was founded in 1999, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.
Galois works with a number of government agencies, including NASA and the Department of Defense. Since the bulk of its clients are headquartered in Washington, D.C., Galois has a satellite office in Arlington, Virginia and has opened its third location in Dayton, Ohio.
After opening an office on the other side of the country, Galois realized that the business messaging tool it was using, Jabber, no longer met its needs.
“We didn’t have an easy way to collaborate back and forth because we had a continent between us,” says Dan West, an IT systems administrator.
Galois employs 70 people. The company doesn’t have a traditional management structure; it relies on project leads to keep teams moving forward together.
Employees need to be able to collaborate effectively to solve complex problems without managers. Galois needed a modern messaging solution with an intuitive user interface that supported third-party integrations, provided web support, enabled offline notifications and allowed users to easily search conversation histories.
Employees were already familiar with Slack; selecting a platform that offered a comparable experience was a priority. However, Galois needed an on-premises solution due to the sensitive nature of its work. Since Slack is only available as a hosted service, Galois either had to stick with outdated Jabber or look elsewhere.
“We take security and privacy very seriously,” West explains, “so hosting off-site was not an option.”
The company searched for a new collaboration solution that enabled engineers and general business staff to stay on the same page. Above all, Galois wanted a feature-rich messaging platform that its employees actually wanted to use. And, because of the privacy requirements of the agencies the company works with, the platform had to be fully under IT control.
Galois had recently deployed GitLab to improve its software development collaboration capabilities. At the time, GitLab had just started integrating Mattermost, an enterprise-grade messaging solution that’s built on open source code, into its software. Already familiar with the platform, Galois decided to test Mattermost after a popular March 2016 Wired article promoted it as a Slack alternative.
Shortly thereafter, momentum built to adopt the tool internally. The company liked what they found and rolled Mattermost out four months later.
Initial setup was easy; it only took an hour or two. While Mattermost immediately met most of the team’s expectations, Galois eventually upgraded to gain access to premium features.
“We originally started by using the Mattermost version that came bundled in the GitLab Omnibus package, but we eventually migrated to Mattermost Enterprise Edition in order to get LDAP authentication and enterprise support,” West says.
Galois also wanted to provide command line access to its developers. After trying other options—like MatterIRCD—engineers decided to build their own Mattermost command line client, now known as Matterhorn.
“It’s the perfect example of how useful the community integrations are and how end users can develop new features to fit their workflows,” West says.
The company integrated Jenkins into Mattermost, stretching the platform out even further.
Today, Mattermost is used extensively throughout Galois by engineers, members of the finance and operations teams and even outside collaborators.
Galois has already seen a lot of return on its investment. Employees no longer have to sift through never-ending email threads. Instead, they collaborate productively with their colleagues wherever they happen to be.
“It engages more people because it’s easy to use and they don’t have to figure out a new client,” West says.
While Mattermost is used for work purposes, employees also enjoy the social aspect of it. Most of Galois’ 40 Mattermost channels are work-related. But they also have channels dedicated to electronic gaming and other general topics of interest which help build relationships and maintain company culture.
Employees enjoy that Mattermost supports offline messaging and notifications. They are also thankful they no longer have to search through endless email threads.
“Email is one of those things people read when they get around to it,” West explains. “Since we’ve moved to Mattermost, we have real-time chats taking place.”
Galois’ employees agree that Mattermost’s file sharing feature is particularly useful. Instead of throwing documents on a server and sharing links, workers can simply drop files directly into the Mattermost interface, making them readily available to the team.
Additionally, Mattermost makes it easier for IT to solve minor issues. Instead of sending tickets, employees reach out to West directly. “Issues get resolved right away when they’re small.”
To get up to speed quickly, new hires are introduced to Mattermost and encouraged to read through relevant channels and share a little bit about themselves.
“It’s one of the first things people log into—it really helps introduce new hires to the people who work here,” West concludes. “All they have to do is click a link and then they’re off and ready to go.”
Thanks to Mattermost, Galois’ distributed team is able to stay on the same page, which makes it easier to solve the complex problems they deal with every day.
Galois conducts research and development in advanced computer science, with a focus on ensuring that critical systems are secure and trustworthy. Founded in 1999, the company is headquartered in Portland, OR, with offices in Arlington, VA and Dayton, OH.
Mattermost provides enterprise-grade collaboration solutions for the world’s leading organizations on a vibrant open source platform. Our private, hybrid and public cloud solutions offer secure, configurable, highly scalable messaging across web, mobile and PC with archiving, search, and deep integration across in-house systems.