Details emerge about VMware's internal real-world View production VDI usage

I visited VMware's headquarters in Palo Alto a few months ago and was surprised to see a Wyse P20 PC-over-IP thin client in one of the cubicles. "Wow, so someone here actually uses View for their desktop?

I visited VMware's headquarters in Palo Alto a few months ago and was surprised to see a Wyse P20 PC-over-IP thin client in one of the cubicles. "Wow, so someone here actually uses View for their desktop?"

"Oh that," my host said, "That's where the intern sits."

And that's sort of been my assumption about VMware's internal usage of View for the past year or so. Of all the VMware employees that I know, I have never, ever seen one of them who actually uses a View desktop as their primary desktop. (Although to be fair, I see them out in the field with laptops where VDI doesn't make sense.) The closest thing I found was a guy who visits Palo Alto every so often and uses View when he's there and needs to print his boarding pass to fly home (since he can't get his Mac laptop to see the corporate Windows print server).

While VMware has always claimed that any one of their ten-thousand worldwide employees has the ability to access a View-based desktop from anywhere, the rumor is that VMware only has a few hundred employees who actually use View day-after-day as their primary desktop. Certainly that's what I've been telling people. But here's the thing about that: To me, this is a #win for VMware. Some people say, "Hey, the fact that VMware only has a small percentage of users on View shows how bad the product is." But I don't think that's what it means at all. Instead, I believe this is saying, "VMware is acting smart and rationally here. They have this VDI technology which makes sense in some use cases, and instead of shoving View down everyone's throat regardless of whether it makes sense or not, they're using it where it makes sense and allowing other users to use more traditional laptops."

So I initially thought that this story would be one defending VMware for "only" using View for 400 employees, I decided to do a quick fact-check before publishing. (I know, I know.. this is "just a blog" written by a jackass with an opinion. Who needs facts?)

Details about VMware's actual internal View / VDI use

Here's what I learned from the people I spoke to at VMware. According to their Q2 earnings report, VMware had 10,400 employees. Of that group, about one-third of them use View-based virtual desktops as their primary production work desktops. About 1,000 of them use a thin client device as their only corporate-issued machine. In terms of internal groups at VMware, the largest production deployments are in groups associated with finance, support services, remote workgroups, contractors, and R&D. Some regional offices, including Cork and Bangalore, have large production View deployments.

Then as I mentioned earlier, all of the VMware employees have access to a View desktop which many of them use to complement their existing traditional laptop for things like occasional remote access, hotel cubes with thin clients, conference rooms via iPads, etc.

VMware employees also pointed out that they continue to see desktop virtualization as a viable solution for a growing number of employees and that they're seeing growth in their internal production View use. They like to remind everyone that Paul Maritz works and travels with a View desktop operating in Local Mode. (Paradox notwithstanding.)

Members of VMware's broader End User Computing group also mention that Horizon App Manager, Socialcast, ThinApp, and Fusion are currently in full production deployment, although that's "full production" in the sense that these capabilities are available to all employees, though only a fraction of the employees actually use them.

So there you have it! Personally I'm surprised that so many employees are using View as their production desktop. And I'll remind everyone again that VDI is not right for every use case. So if you hear that VMware is "only" using View for one-third of their workforce, that's a good thing, not a bad thing.

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Brian, An interesting perspective on View. Sometimes you need a few morsels of filet mignon to enhance the prospect of eating your own dog food.

I wonder what would happen if you applied the same logic to Citrix? I was there for over 10 years, and in my experience people were always reluctant to use Published apps when they had (in their opinion) perfectly good Local apps on their Laptop or Desktop,

The Virtualised Desktop usage % would be definitely higher in Citrix becasue the BYOC folks would have Apple Laptops, and would have to use a Published Desktop, and as you say it's down to use cases.

But it would be interesting to see you ask the question of Citrix- how many Citrites use XA/XD for all apps, all the time, on all devices (to coin a phrase)?


Brian, This is a very interesting blog (and yes.... facts included). What I am highly interested to know is how they solve the Microsoft licensing for that? How does a vendor solves the inherit conflict between using it's own product by anyone anywhere any device, and the need to pay Microsoft a $100 per user per device VDA license? Do they even track how many different endpoints each employee use to access the VDI image?


Devices that cannot have Windows installed locally can also use VECD licenses, which are included in SA. So I would imagine that they buy an Enterprise Agreement from Microsoft that covers the Windows client with SA for all employees, and then they're covered.


I am a little sad that you personally have never, ever seen one of them who uses View as their primary desktop. Not at least one?



Yeah, not one. Or if I did, they didn't tell me. I sure see a lot of laptop users though.


I work at VMware in Palo Alto, and I can see folks whop use View as the primary desktop from my office (you'll have to take my word for it, of course)

Also, if you're at VMW, you use Horizon because that's what does SSO for nearly all the SaaS and web apps you need to do your job.

All VMW Mac users have Fusion so they can run Windows locally, myself included. Though 99% of the time I can get away without running Windows at all, using native Mac and SaaS apps.


I am remote and I live in a virtual desktop. I actually have two primary virtual desktops. I use them all day long from my home office and 50% of the time when traveling. One is in Palo Alto and is running all the latest bleeding edge NDA stuff. The other is our rolling dogfood environment ( Currently running View 5 ) in our data-center outside California. I use a thin client with a dual monitor set up primarily at home. Both are Windows 7 3D enabled desktops as I like Aero.

I use a Mac Book Air when I travel. I flip flop between Mac, a Fusion VM and my virtual desktop. In the end, I spend less time in my  Virtual Desktop when traveling as I am mostly in meetings, meeting with customers and really only doing Web/Email/Socialcast. When traveling, and doing productivity work, I end up doing it from my virtual desktop.

I figured you knew I live it and would at least count me. Then again, you have only seen me traveling :)


Good post Brian,

just a clarification about the the broader EUC products adoption within VMware

Horizon Application Manager is deployed to all employees and it it the ONLY way to SSO into our key SaaS apps including and Workday (15 SaaS up today going to 30 by year's end).

Virtually every single employee signed up for Socialcast and 75% of us post at least once a week. For my team, Socialcast has become the main communication/collaboration channel within the team and especially with the field.

We just launched Strides and there are many teams already using it for scrumming. In my team we already use it for the client release train and marketing projects.

All in all, we are a great example of a company that is using VDI to bring the legacy forward and mobilize the desktop for an increasing number of use cases while experiencing an explosive adoption of everything SaaS/mobile/social where Horizon is becoming the central management platform.





I think this proves what you have been saying all along.....VDI may fit 10% of the population needs.

This may also reflect VMware being full of technical power users. Power users want their own system and their own apps on their own physical machine. They want full control of their own environment. VDI may be inconvenient and too restrictive for these users.

VDI may be more for the less computer savy staff workers.



Its interesting to read an informed report on the internal usage numbers of VDI at VMware, I'm surprised the numbers are as low as they are, especially given the increasing maturity of View (and its supporting technologies).

I would imagine that VMware, as a developer of virtualised ecosystems in an increasingly competitive market would be one of the few companies prepared to really push the comfort zone of thier inhouse users when testing key technologies. Whomever gets thier 'big picture' desktop abstraction platform right first and thus unlocks the market is going to clean up (and at this rate Microsoft might win by default in the long game despite a technically average offering just by offering the easiest and cheapest 'elevator pitch' business cases built on Hyper-V, plus some complimentary partner technologies).

If I worked at product in VMwares desktop division, I'd be spending half my time taking a detailed look at all the valid reasons my collegues can't (or won't) use my tools to do thier job as well as they can on a fat client, and I'd spend the other half getting that functionality and more into my product at an intended price point that beats fat clients in BOTH capex and opex terms via a pitch so transparant that decision makers won't be put off by the complex TCO calculations.

When the likes of HP decide its time to get out of the desktop hardware business, you have to ask why and where that means the market is going. Just because bulk deployment desktop hardware is becoming less economical to produce doesnt mean it is suddenly no longer required. Why can't VDI step into that breach and bridge the proven economic advantages of virtualised server based computing with the reality of todays desktop usage scenarios? Right now I reckon they're looking at it all wrong - by trying to push relatively unproven technologies like cloud hosted apps to the stagnant desktop space where there is well ingrained hesitation and distrust of anything new that might upset the apple cart by 'changeing the way we work' - when the real opportunity is in delivering the same old tasty dogfood in a bigger tin for a lower price.

VMware are a well funded, technology driven company - if they can make thier core VDI product meet the requirements of most if not all of thier own users, then they'll probably have covered usage cases of just about every other technology company who would benefit from those same tools. If they can't manage that - best admit defeat now as your building a product no-one wants.

I think most of us would feel damn lucky if we didn't have to go further than the next office along to gain that kind of insight into our target audience!


Okay, so VMware might or might not have a lot of users who use View -- what's the point? I think almost everybody agrees that VDI is suitable for specific use cases, and it seems VMware as a company does not fit one of those specific use cases -- this doesn't mean anything, let alone that you should infer statements about product maturity or adoption!