Citrix: Preparing IT Pros for an Evolving Landscape

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Today’s dynamic workforce and new technologies present serious challenges for any growing organization’s IT department. Technology professionals find themselves faced with distributed and mobile employees, increased infrastructure complexity, increasingly robust enterprise applications and the rise of Web 2.0 and mashups.

Matt Eastwood, IDC group vice president of enterprise platforms, confirms this trend in a recent article: “Enterprise customers of all types continue to focus on driving business growth. This growth drives new computing demands, which increasingly require both scale-up consolidated systems and scale-out distributed configurations to meet very different workload needs in today’s enterprise.”

To give IT professionals an edge in this challenging landscape, Citrix Systems now offers a series of new administrator-level certifications.

As a provider of application delivery infrastructure, Citrix introduced certifications and supporting curriculum this year to prepare IT professionals to manage technologies that accelerate application performance. They do this by efficiently and securely delivering Web applications to the enterprise, optimizing WAN application performance and speed for branch offices and remote or mobile workers, and increasing visibility into their application-delivery infrastructures.

The newly announced certification tracks are Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA):

  • for Citrix NetScaler 8.
  • for Citrix Access Gateway 8 Enterprise Edition.
  • for Citrix EdgeSight 4.
  • for Citrix WANScaler 4.

Three of the four tracks are based on newer Citrix products that had never been supported with certification, reflecting the rapid growth of the company’s product portfolio.

The new certifications expand the number of Citrix CCA tracks offered from three to seven. The three tracks previously available focus on the company’s Windows application-delivery solutions (CCA for Citrix Presentation Server 4, CCA for Citrix Access Gateway 4 and CCA for Citrix Password Manager 4).

The new certifications validate IT administrators’ knowledge of the latest Citrix products, as well as make it dramatically easier to keep pace with growing complexity and rising expectations in IT.

Professionals are able to demonstrate they are keeping abreast of evolving technology trends in the application-delivery market while maximizing the performance, security and cost savings of their Citrix environments.

Efficiently and Securely Bringing Web 2.0 Into the Enterprise
A recent benchmark study conducted by Nemertes Research, “Building a Successful Virtual Workplace,” found strong interest in Web 2.0 applications across enterprises. According to the study, 18 percent of respondents use blogs, 32 percent use wikis and 23 percent have begun to deploy really simple syndication (RSS) as key methodologies for managing information flows throughout organizations.

With ever-increasing user expectations for enterprise Web applications’ performance and availability, the Citrix NetScaler platform supports Web 2.0 growth by optimizing the delivery of Web applications for millions of users worldwide.

An integral part of Citrix application-delivery infrastructure, Citrix NetScaler accelerates Web application performance up to five times by leveraging multiple acceleration technologies and innovative TCP optimizations. NetScaler makes Web applications run faster, and Citrix Access Gateway Enterprise Edition provides secure application access, allowing administrators to reduce the ongoing cost of secure, anywhere access and improve end-users’ experience.

The new CCAs for Citrix NetScaler 8 and Citrix Access Gateway 8 Enterprise Edition validate technical expertise on their respective products. By achieving the certifications, IT professionals are well-prepared to address technology developments in the Web 2.0 space, including enterprise mashups, service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and complex application environments.

The CCA for Citrix NetScaler 8 focuses on product capabilities such as easy graphical policy configuration and full transaction-level application intelligence.

Specifically, candidates are tested on NetScaler features such as load balancing, SSL offload, policy engine expressions, content filtering, compression, content switching, monitoring, and auditing and logging. Topics covered in the pursuit of a CCA for Citrix Access Gateway 8 Enterprise Edition certification include, but are not limited to, configuring an SSL VPN virtual server, creating SmartAccess policies to customize VPN behavior and configuring the Access Gateway to integrate with Citrix Presentation Server.

WANScaler: Better Application Speed and Performance for Branch Offices and Remote/Mobile Workers
More than half of corporate employees access their applications while working off-site, according to industry analysts. Up to 90 percent of these employees still need regular access to the corporate database infrastructure.

To address this, organizations use WAN optimization appliances such as Citrix WANScaler, which dramatically increases the speed by which applications are delivered to branch office and mobile employees. As a result, employees have access to applications from wherever they work without performance penalties.

Citrix WANScaler is both an appliance installed at each branch office and a software client installed on each user’s computer.

The CCA for Citrix WANScaler validates IT administrators’ knowledge of the entire solution, preparing them to expertly extend LAN-like application performance to branch office and mobile employees. The curriculum supporting the certification focuses on the operational theory behind Citrix WANScaler, including topics such as typical TCP flow over a WAN and TCP flow with WANScaler. It also prepares candidates to deploy the solution, including installation, configuration, troubleshooting and ongoing administration.

Gaining Control of Complex Infrastructures Through Visibility from EdgeSight
IT administrators face considerable challenges because of complex and variable environments that make IT infrastructure performance difficult to predict and control. An effective IT service management strategy must ensure applications are delivered to users reliably and with optimal performance levels.

The Citrix EdgeSight solution shifts the IT focus from technology and systems to end-users and achieving business goals. By measuring performance and availability from the user’s perspective, IT organizations have the insight, data and tools they need to ensure all IT resources are operating at peak efficiency so end-users can do the same.

The CCA for Citrix EdgeSight 4 validates that IT professionals are experts in this product line and are prepared to give their organizations unprecedented visibility into their application-delivery infrastructure.

Citrix EdgeSight 4 CCAs will have mastered technologies that give them accurate and granular visibility into the various components of an organization’s IT environment, including monitoring of applications, devices and the network in real time.

As a result, administrators can quickly analyze, resolve and proactively prevent problems. Businesses require these skills to deploy mobile workforce strategies, expand markets, save money and retain key employees.

Achieving the New Certifications
The new CCAs continue to expand Citrix certification offerings for administrator-level professionals who want to help their organizations increase productivity and profitability in the face of organizational growth. The following details exam requirements, as well as recommended training for the new certifications.

  • CCA for Citrix NetScaler 8.
    – Required Exam: 731 Citrix NetScaler 8.0: Administration.
    – Recommended Training: CTX-1733AI Citrix NetScaler 8.0: Basic Operations and Administration.
  • CCA for Citrix Access Gateway 8 Enterprise Edition.
    – Required Exam: 309 Citrix Access Gateway 8.0 Enterprise Edition: Administration.
    – Recommended Training: CTX-1309AI Citrix Access Gateway 8.0 Enterprise Edition: Administration.
  • CCA for Citrix WANScaler 4.
    – Required Exam: 740 Citrix WANScaler 4.2: Administration.
    – Recommended Training: CTX-1740AI Citrix WANScaler 4.2: Administration.
  • CCA for Citrix EdgeSight 4.
    – Required Exam: 800 Citrix EdgeSight 4.5: Administration, Performance Monitoring and Load Testing.
    – Recommended Training: CTX-1800AI Citrix EdgeSight 4.5: Administration, Performance Monitoring and Load Testing.

The Value of Citrix Education
IDC predicts the mobile and remote worker population (defined as employees spending more than 20 percent of their time away from the office) will continue to grow.
Businesses and workers are becoming more flexible, yet it will take time to sort out challenges such as adoption of applications and infrastructure software solutions for wireless devices, mobile connectivity and other problems.

Citrix certifications prepare IT professionals to support their organizations’ ability to change on demand, without changing the overall environment.

Citrix Education offers customers and partners certifications that validate real-world Citrix product knowledge and expertise.

These certifications are supported by a robust curriculum that includes instructor-led and e‑learning courses, or a combination of both.

In addition to the CCA cer-tifications, two advanced certifications are also available for those professionals who want to continue their certification path: the Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator (CCEA), which focuses on administration, building, testing, rollout and support of multiple Citrix products, and the Citrix Certified Integration Architect (CCIA), which focuses on best practices recommended by Citrix for analysis, design and building/testing of Citrix technologies.

– Julieann Scalisi is the managing director of Citrix Education. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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