Apparatus Infrastructure Services, a Virtusa company, is a managed IT services provider whose solutions span unified communica- tions, collaboration, business intelligence, mobility and cloud computing. Virtusa acquired Apparatus in 2015 for its expertise in infrastructure management. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Apparatus is a Citrix Service Provider partner and a Citrix Solution Advisor. Consultant Nick Burton is a member of the virtualization team, which handles server, storage, desktop and application virtu- alization engagements.
NetScaler, the Citrix software-defined application delivery controller (ADC), is frequently implemented as an enabling technology for Citrix app and desktop virtualization. It provides a wide range of capabilities, including server load balancing, application performance improvements and secure, remote access. However, as a virtualization specialist, Nick had not yet received formal training on the NetScaler product line. So when he worked on customer engagements that involved Citrix networking, Nick found himself at a disadvantage.
“One of my first hands-on experiences with NetScaler was an upgrade to the latest version of XenApp and XenDesktop. It involved implementing the NetScaler VPX virtual appliance with StoreFront as the system front end. With the upcoming end of life of Citrix Access Gateway, this customer needed the new NetScaler Unified Gateway for remote access to virtual apps and desktops. Of course, they also wanted the newest features and functionality of XenDesktop and XenApp.” Apparatus manages the customer’s IT infrastructure, which is hosted in the public cloud.
In preparation for the migration, Nick and the Apparatus team integrated NetScaler VPX and StoreFront with the current virtualization environment. Although the project was completed with no downtime and provided some hands-on experience, Nick felt that he was “stumbling around” due to his lack of NetScaler training. “If I had taken the NetScaler course ahead of time, I believe the project would have gone faster and more efficiently.”
With the ultimate goal of becoming certified as a Citrix Certified Associate in Networking (CCA-N), Nick signed up for the Citrix Education CNS-207 course, “Implementing Citrix NetScaler 11 for App and Desktop Solutions.” The training, which features hands-on exercises in a virtual lab, provides basic concepts and skills necessary to implement, configure, secure and monitor a NetScaler system with NetScaler Unified Gateway in a desktop virtualization environment.
Nick appreciated the fact that the course is designed specifically for students like him, who have limited or no previous NetScaler experience.
The course was provided as online training through a program offered to Apparatus by Ingram Micro. “Frankly, I didn’t have high expectations for the virtual model, but I was pleasantly surprised. The instructor, Rick Townsend, was excellent. It was obvious that he had a lot of real-life, hands-on experience with NetScaler and could answer the tough questions that we threw at him. He also
had very good speaking and teaching skills. Overall, I was very happy with the quality of Citrix virtual training.”
Nick’s conclusion was reinforced when he took an in-person course on XenDesktop. “Having taken both types of training, I found that the classroom and virtual formats are equally effective."
“The NetScaler training was definitely important, both to prepare for the certification exam – which I passed -- and to increase my comfort level with discussing and implementing the product line,” Nick reported. He cited three areas of particular benefit. “First, I found the content on policies very helpful because I had never dealt with them before. Likewise, I didn’t have experience with he global server load balancing capability of NetScaler. Since our sales engineers often lead with GSLB when talking to customers about the advantages of the product, this training was valuable.”
A third benefit was the opportunity to manually integrate NetScaler and StoreFront with XenApp and XenDesktop. Nick noted, “Previously, I used the wizard to walk through the integration, but doing it manually provides deeper knowledge and understanding. It was a good learning experience that will help me in the future.”
He added, “The virtual lab environment was a great feature of the NetScaler course and helped me get ready to take the certification exam.” Citrix Education offers 25 additional days of unlimited hands-on lab access to course participants for a $500 fee.
Nick said he would highly recommend the course to anyone involved with integrating NetScaler with XenApp and XenDesktop.
He plans to take additional Citrix Education courses with the goal of becoming a Citrix Certified Professional-Networking (CCP-N). For more information, visit training.citrix.com.