October 12, 2020

Client Spotlight: Ansible integration helps Sensu reach more users

WORDS BY   Katja Terglav


In order to provide a great experience to its users, Sensu decided to integrate its product with Ansible. The team outsourced the integration to XLAB Steampunk for the best possible result. How did our collaboration work out for them? Did Sensu’s Ansible Collection help them reach their goal?

In this client spotlight, we chat with Caleb Hailey, co-founder and CEO of Sensu, who helps businesses solve their stickiest monitoring challenges.

Meet Sensu

Sensu is an Observability Pipeline that delivers Monitoring-as-Code for any cloud infrastructure. While some monitoring tools have been outpaced by high-velocity changes in their IT infrastructure, the Sensu monitoring solution empowers DevOps and SREs to automate their monitoring workflows, integrate existing best-of-breed tools and achieve instant visibility into their multi-cloud environments.

Goal: A great automation experience

Complexity in IT has increased immensely over the last decade, and organizations adopting DevOps practices are looking to manage that complexity through automation. Since Ansible plays a huge role in the world of automation, Sensu decided to add an Ansible Collection into its toolbox to offer an enhanced user experience.

“If that’s how you want to onboard new technology in your organization, we want you to have a great experience onboarding Sensu. If Ansible is your preferred choice, we want you to have a great experience using your preferred tools,” says Caleb.

They knew that the development of a high-quality Ansible Collection can be quite a challenge, so they chose to outsource it. Why did they choose XLAB Steampunk?

Sensu wanted to become an Ansible Certified partner and as they talked to the Ansible team about various levels of partnership, they asked who could help them to achieve their goals.

In fact, Caleb had a specific goal in mind: “I wanted our collection to be on the shortlist of examples that Ansible team would point to and say ‘If you want to do it right, this is what it should look like.' "

“With those parameters in mind, they recommended XLAB Steampunk. Your name was on a very short list,” says Caleb. “I don’t even remember any alternatives, as your name was on the top of the list. So we just said we were going to pick the number one.”

Sensu Collection sets an example

Yes, that actually happened. Ansible Collections were a brand new thing. Red Hat presented them for the very first time at AnsibleFest 2019 and certified Sensu Collection was available to users on the very same day. On top of that, the Ansible team recommended XLAB Steampunk to lead a session on how to build Ansible Collections and Sensu Collection was selected as an example of good practice.

“For me, that was the ultimate success. That was what we were going for and we got it. I can’t speak on behalf of my own use as I’m not an Ansible user, so seeing Sensu highlighted as an example of how to implement the latest & greatest Ansible best practices was the ultimate litmus test for me,” says Caleb.

But it’s not about the praise, it’s about users. So, what are the tangible results and benefits of adding an Ansible Collection to Sensu?

Ansible means you can expose more tools to more users

Ansible’s ability to manage complexity with the help of automation brings benefits to vendors, as they can expose more tools to more users. And that helps Sensu.

“Once a new company starts using Sensu, we want as many people in the organization as possible to start using our product. If it’s a kind of company where they are fully bought into Ansible as their primary method of adopting new technology to help advance their business, offering a high quality Ansible Collection helps us get new customers AND helps their usage to expand over time. We’ve seen notable results along these lines in the first year of our engagement together,” says Caleb.

Since Sensu started publishing new Ansible content, they’ve had several new customers telling them: “I tried your product a couple of months ago” but they didn’t finish setting it up for one reason or another, “But then I saw that there was an Ansible Collection for it, so I tried again and I got it set up and started using it right away across thousands of devices.”

“Now more Ansible users are adopting Sensu, and some of them have already converted to paying customers,” Caleb adds.

That’s always fantastic to hear. However, there’s always room for improvement and we wanted to know what Caleb thinks of our collaboration so far.

Keeping the outsourcing dream alive

“You are patient and very easy to work with, even if we’ve had difficult requests at times. You understand our no-compromise desire to deliver a high-quality experience for our Ansible users. We can develop our product on our own, but to ensure that our product provides a great experience for Ansible users, we need input and feedback from a trusted partner. And you’ve been that for us,” Caleb says.

“We don’t always have a great experience when outsourcing projects like this. Consulting is hard. It often doesn’t work out how we’d like it to. However, the dream of the ideal outsourcing outcome is still possible with the right partner. What I’ve learned from working with you is not to give up on consulting. It restored my faith a little bit,” Caleb concludes.

The high praise really means a lot to our team. And what would Caleb say about XLAB Steampunk when talking to a friend?

"If you're trying to deliver a high-quality experience around your product to Ansible users, don't try to do it yourself. Hire XLAB Steampunk - you're going to get a better result."

If you also want to develop an Ansible Collection that’s going to delight your users, let us know and we’ll help you out.