IRC: Our IT secret weapon

While I’ve be using this Internet thing for many (many) years, I never really got into the whole IRC chat. When I transferred into the IT group almost six years ago, I was introduced into the internal IRC server that they used regularly.

For the unfamiliar, IRC is a chat server and protocol developed in 1988 that enables standard text chat rooms. It’s nothing special but utility items rarely are. It’s how you use it that makes it work.

Did You Know? Our original IRC service we hosted was on a racked-up PlayStation 2 in one of our data centers?

Six years ago, the IT group I joined was relatively small and we were all in the same hallway. As a result, coordinating and collaborating wasn’t a challenge. Our IRC server was in use back then but was mostly for color commentary on recent events or sharing other geeky tidbits (this was before Facebook and Twitter). As our group grew, however, we became more spread out and IRC started taking on a more tactical vibe. That trend continued as we spread out and more people were still working together on projects. Worst yet, it was becoming more commonplace that you didn’t even know who the right individual might be regarding a particular service or skill.

Today, our IRC server has over a dozen different channels with fun and more business-like exchanges happening every day in each. The real strength, however, is when something has gone sideways. If a system has gone down and our NOC pages one or more admins to work on something, our IRC server becomes exceedingly useful so that status and collaboration can be easily done. Transcripts are often utilized for updating tickets or producing root cause analysis (RCA) documents.

Did You Know? I have the fortune of working with ‘Dalvenjah’ of DALnet fame?

Having not used IRC before I joined the team, I have since grown to truly feel badly for any IT shop that doesn’t use it or something similar. I can only imagine how worse-off we would be if it wasn’t available.

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