The History of Zenith / Managed Desktop
1998-2002 – NT 4.0
The first version of the Managed Desktop, which was called Zenith (which itself was originally known as Site98) was developed by the CIS AS Divisional Software Team and Systems Team and was released in the summer of 1998. A Group was formed called Desktop Development and Implementation Group (DDIG) consisting of members from these two teams.
The desktop was built using Microsoft’s Windows NT 4.0 operating system.
Site98 was mainly used by students within the computing labs in CIS, the Learning Centre and a few schools. The desktop was also used by staff within these departments.
The development of Site98 was a major development for Sheffield Hallam University and allowed the University to deliver the latest 32-bit applications to the desktop.
A staff version (originally known as DT2K) was developed by Systems and DDIG and was released in January 1999. It differed slightly from Site98, although was based on the same architecture as Site98.
This version of the desktop had some slightly updated software, such as Netscape 4.5, but the main difference was the fact that staff have homespace on Netware servers and so this version of Zenith was developed to exploit this by saving software configuration files to the network space. This allowed users to move around computers within the University whilst keeping their own personal settings for software.
Zenith 2 was developed by the Zenith Implementation Group (which is the new DDIG team), which consists of members from the Desktop and Application Software (the new name for the DST team) and Systems, to bring the two desktops together, so that every machine within the University had the same desktop, which ensured consistency of software and the desktop feel for staff and students.
To do this all students had to have homespace on a server so that software configuration files could be stored.
There were many developments and improvements implemented in Zenith 2 and by having one desktop for all users allowed for much better support.
Although the same Zenith 2 image is used by all users, the image has been configured into two different versions, which are Zenith Office (the default version) and Zenith Lab.
The version used depends upon where the user is using Zenith.
The Zenith Lab version had the project name Site99.
2002-2005 – Windows 2000
The desktop between 2002 and 2005 was built by the same people and using the same principles as those used to create Zenith 2, but using the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system rather than NT4.
The 2002 desktop was designed so that that it would work seamlessly alongside Zenith 2 and so used the same Zenworks workstation policies as Zenith 2, providing a consistent and familiar support environment for those responsible for implementing and supporting the desktop within school’s and departments.
2005-2011 – Windows XP
The desktop from 2005 to 2011 was built using Windows XP SP2 and made extensive use of both the SHU NDS and Active Directory. The version of Zenworks was upgraded from Zenworks for Desktops 3.2 to Zenworks for Desktops 4.0.1.
The name was changed from Zenith to ‘Managed Desktop’ as it was considered to be a more appropriate name for the service.
Between 2005 and 2011 various upgrades occurred, such as the XP SP3 was installed and the version of Zenworks was upgraded to version 7.0.1.
Locally installed software was updated as required, including Office 2007, web browsers and plugins.
2011-Present – Windows 7
In 2009 a decision was taken to totally rebuild the desktop for 2011 onward using Windows 7 64-bit Operating System and only using the Active Directory for authentication and services such as printing, file store, login scripts, Group Policy settings etc. and without the Novell Client installed.
Other services, such as the method for distributing software were also moved to new systems that integrate with the Active Directory.
A major difference between MD7 and previous desktops is that the desktop was built with mobile devices such as laptops and tablets being at least as important as desktops and with mobile computing being a major way of working with the new desktop.
This meant having to re-install and package hundreds of applications for distribution to a 64-bit OS and using a new distribution method.
During 2012/13 implemented Offline Files, Cached Exchange Mode and a VPN client for all laptop users, so allowing laptop users to access files from their Homespace whilst away from the University.
All staff laptops must be encrypted with Bitlocker to ensure security and to comply with SHU regulations.