What big changes are we seeing in end-user computing?With the explosion of new devices, operating systems, application frameworks and the impact of cloud computing, desktop virtualisation is one key emerging trend. Industry-wide, we’re seeing virtualised desktops, or VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), gain popularity and momentum.Virtualised desktops have several key advantages:1. Improving overall management and security of your desktop services Where you have a workforce that is outsourced or contracted, it allows a business to deliver their working desktop in a secure and manageable way. Instead of taking days to provision a new desktop and hours to set it up, this can all be done in minutes.2. Providing a lower cost to deploy new applications Desktop virtualisation simplifies application management in large organisations. It makes it highly cost effective: the whole app lifecycle from design to testing to implementation is made easier because the process is conducted centrally.3. Supporting BYOD in a secure and scalable fashion Desktop virtualisation enables greater workforce mobility, with the option of working securely on any device in a controlled fashion: desktop, laptop or even a tablet. 4. Enabling longer refresh cycles for desktop infrastructure While desktop virtualisation can be a complex undertaking, you can expect to see a return on investment within the next refresh cycle.Desktop virtualisation can be relatively challenging to design and implement, and it’s critical to choose an experienced partner. While native virtualisation in Windows Server 2012 makes some aspects easier, many fine details still need to be considered throughout the design phase.Running complex apps may occasionally cause issues, and desktop virtualisation also adds an extra level of reliance on the network and back end infrastructure. However, there are no real disadvantages that can’t be circumvented with good design.From a user point of view, there’s minimal difference. Any changes can be managed through user education, but it’s a fairly negligible shift and many users may not even notice the difference.Ultimately, desktop virtualisation shouldn’t just be thought of as replacing a desktop. It’s about the whole process of end-user experience, management and a great example of aligning IT technologies to business outcomes.Have you considered desktop virtualisation? What do you consider the main benefits to be?David Alexander is Brennan IT’s Operations Manager – Cloud Services.