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.