Re: How do you use VMs?

Subject: Re: How do you use VMs?
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 18:19:36 +0000 (UTC)

Hi Steven...
Let me start by saying that I work on a VM-centric product, and the only reason I use a VM is because I have to use a Mac to get the dev environment, but I need windows to use FrameMaker. So I run Fusion on my Mac to get a Win machine (Fusion is a VMware product). Aside from that, I have no personal reason to run a VM... Certainly there's no reason to spin up yet another VM on my laptop. If I want to run different web servers on my laptop (and I do), then I just give them different ports. No need for complete, separate machines.
I can't see much reason for you to spin up VMs for your day-to-day work. Maybe if you need to test on different machines, and you don't have an inhouse lab that already gives you those environments... But I consider that exceptional.
Training is a good use case for VMs... You can have a template machine, and spin up an instance that always looks like what you want your students to see. So the student would spin up a VM on the given student machine... Or better yet, log into a remote VM and use it. Another use case is if you use a cloud app for your work. For example, you might edit your docs in a Web GUI, and the app might be hosted on one or more VMs.Â

If all you're talking about is running apps on your local machine to do desktop work, then I don't think VMs give you anything. Ask yourself this... What value would you get out of having multiple physical machines? There are two types of value you might get:* Resources (Mem, CPU, storage)* Isolation (unique address, different OS, different network)
If the only benefit you would get from multiple physical machines is in the Resources camp, then don't spin up a VM... You won't get extra resources that way. OTOH, if you're willing to get FEWER resources per machine in exchange for isolation, then spinning up VMs on your local machine might make sense. As far as I can tell though, there aren't many use cases for isolation in the kind of work tech writers do.Â

VMs come into play with distributed applications. They also work for Virtual Desktops... But if you had that environment you'd already be using it. This is a bold new world, and it's been growing around us, under the surface. I think the idea is that you are not supposed to notice when you use them. It's all supposed to just work.Â

From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
To: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>; "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 1:42 PM
Subject: RE: How do you use VMs?

Thanks, Chris, this is awesome.

I will definitely check out the site.

I had been thinking about past use of VMs, and present. I see what you mean about what's going on now and it does seem pretty pervasive.

Here's my question: First, I don't have the complicated doc use case that you do. I'm on a 64-bit Windows 7 PC, and I run apps like Flare, FrameMaker, Acrobat, Office, and the "gang of usual suspects" natively.

No DITA, no XML, no CCMS, no fancy-schmancy stuff. Just everyday tech writer apps.

So what can I do in a VM that would benefit me in everyday documentation work?

VMs appear to be a great tool for developing software and then testing in multiple environments.

I suppose you could test documentation in multiple environments but we don't really have that need, that I can see at least. We have some docs that we deliver as HTML5 online help output from Flare (tripane or topnav), then most of the rest are PDFs out of FrameMaker. We do PDF shared reviews out of Acrobat. (Part of my research into this area had to do with latency issues on very large PDFs with huge numbers of comments -- but this is more of an internal server issue although a VM solution would be wonderful if such a thing exists. SharePoint looks like a bust too.)

What would installing/creating/spinning up a VM do for me that would add value to my work?

Thanks for any advice you can give here. I recall coming across your descriptions of your own use case but they are far afield of the much less sophisticated workflow that we're doing.

Steve



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: How do you use VMs?: From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: How do you use VMs?: From: Janoff, Steven

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