Wednesday 30 March 2011

Passing the CCA: My experience

I've been quiet on the blogging front recently because I've been studying for my Citrix Certified Administrator for XenApp 5.0 for Windows 2008.

I took the exam yesterday and passed with 85% (the pass mark was 68%, so very pleased with that). As with all certs, the content of the exam is under NDA, but it might be useful to know my revision plan.

I attended the official Citrix course back in 2009, but didn't get around to doing the exam. The course is pretty thorough and details the architecture of XenApp, how to install it and configure the Web Interface, plugins, the Secure Gateway, along with application publishing and streaming, policies and the ever problematic subject of printing.

For revision, I downloaded the Exam Prep Guide and used that as the basis on which to read up from the course notes. I also subscribed to the excellent Citrixxperience site which had a very useful set of study notes as well as a large number of practice questions. Note: This is NOT a brain dump site!

I used the home lab to build a number of VMs based on Technet licences and a 60 day trial licence of XenApp 5.0. To simulate the various components of a XenApp build, I created one VM for Citrix licensing, one for the Web Interface server, two for the XenApp Server Farm and a VM for the streaming profiler. I would have liked to create an additional VM for the Secure Gateway, but this would have required a firewall and I didn't get around to it.

As for the exam itself, the Exam Prep Guide tells you all you need to know: Content, structure, times etc. I found that my experience with the practice questions gave a very similar result to my actual score.

I don't realistically expect to take my Citrix knowledge much deeper. I know enough to make some intelligent decisions when designing a XenApp solution, and it remains perhaps the best way to remotely deploy Windows applications over a web browser or in a thin client environment. Although Windows Server 2008 has improved the Terminal Services capabilities of Windows, Citrix still adds a significant number of useful enhancements with XenApp that are required in larger environments.