I work for a company with more than a thousand developers
- Already, you're in the wrong venue. Unless you're a C-level executive, don't expect much change. You need white papers and golf clubs to change your company's policies, not
and I'm participating in activities aimed at improving the work experience of developers
- You're an outside consultant tasked with reducing the workforce by improving productivity. Don't forget that when you deal with your developers.
Our developers receive an ultrabook
- A real developer can't work on an ultrabook
that is rather powerful
- It's an ultrabook, not powerful
but not really adapted for development (no admin rights, small storage capacity, restrictive security rules, etc.)
- Your company is treating your developers like sales and customer support. Are you sure you're dealing with developers and not glorified tech support? If you are dealing with developers, you will also see high turnover and rather little experience. You're probably dealing with a developer sweatshop, not a well-managed tech house, change the culture around hiring first before you call these people "developers".
- They also have access to VDIs (more flexibility)
Virtual desktops are for things that you require little interaction with or that can easily be destroyed, not for development.
- but often complain of performance issues during certain hours of the day
Well, what do you expect, again, you're treating developers like tech support, your company's priorities are wrong.
- Overall, developers want to have maximum autonomy, free choice of their tools (OS, IDE, etc.) and access to internal development environments (PaaS, GIT repositories, continuous delivery tools, etc.)
If they don't have those, they're not going to be very productive developers. If you have thousands of developers without even basic version management and build tools, you better quit now, the company is doomed.
- We recently had a presentation of VMWare on desktop and application virtualization (Workstation & Horizon), which is supposedly the future of the desktops.
Who got to play golf? VMWare is well behind on the market and only survives through inertia and takeovers. It's the Microsoft/IBM of VM.
- It sounds interesting on paper but I remain skeptical.
Citrix did it better in the 2000s. It failed. For good reason.
- What is the best working environment for a developer, offering flexibility, performance and some level of free choice,
You answered your own question
- without compromising security, compliance, licensing (etc.) requirements
Recommend replacing management first. Compliance and licensing is a managerial thing and should be hardly required since the most powerful development tools are open source, for everything "necessary" that deals with evil business partners (Adobe, VMWare, Microsoft,
- I would like you to share your experiences on BYOD, desktop virtualization, etc. and the level of satisfaction of the developers.
BYOD: If your company is too cheap to provide the necessary machines then they get to deal with the headaches of BYOD.
Desktop Virtualization: Tried and failed in the previous dotcom bubbles.
Level of satisfaction is directly related to your management.