Citrix Training: Another Approach
You may have seen several other blog articles in this column on this subject. In those, we described the current Citrix technical certification structure, and the classes required to achieve that certification. With the release of XenDesktop 7.x, the structure (and all the certification names) have been updated and renamed. This is something Citrix Marketing loves to do every 3-4 years, and it confuses their user base to no end. We also described how Whitehat offers a different approach to Citrix training in addition to our certified classes, and this article will go into more detail on that.
At its core, Whitehat is an application and desktop virtualization company offering the full spectrum of assessment, design, implementation, and support services. Our primary expertise is in Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, but we also are very knowledgeable in VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V and related technologies since we work with them constantly in many customer accounts. When we did out market research on the issues and objectives most customers consider when pursuing training, this is what we found:
- Citrix training is expensive. $1000 a day and most classes are 5 days in length.
- Citrix training is time-consuming. The base class is 5 days and the advanced tracks require two or three classes. Add to this the NetScaler training tracks and you have a semester!
- Most Citrix training is too comprehensive. Unless you are a very large shop, most customers have a selected set of key topics they are interested in learning about, which would cut the cost and time commitment down considerably.
- Citrix “Virtual” classes are very hard to take. Many of the Citrix Learning Centers on the market started offering “virtual” live classes several years ago in an attempt to reduce the travel expenditure for out-of-town students. This has proved to be a good idea in theory, but not so good in practice. Taking a class in this manner involves having the student wear a headset with a microphone for interaction with the on-site students and instructor. This is better than watching a recording of a class, since interaction is possible, but is very tedious and tiring. Not too many people are going to enjoy wearing a headset for 40 hours straight and trying to make sure they hear all the dialogue. It’s like being on a conference call for a whole week!
OK, so what’s the answer? We think it’s our customer on-site training offering.
Whitehat has put together a hybrid training plan that we think addresses all of these common issues. It involves having our Citrix-certified instructor come on-site for 1 day to do a mini-review of your Citrix environment and the training needs of your staff. Then we craft a list of mini topics that you wish to be trained on, and remain on-site for another day or two to complete the training. Common topics include printing best practices, SSL certificate installation, profile issues and resolutions, etc. By doing training in this manner, the customer gets affordable training, on-site, taught by a field-experienced Certified Instructor that teaches exactly the subjects they are interested in, at a price that is reasonable. We think this is the wave of the future in Citrix Training. This hybrid training is not Citrix certified, but it is focused on what customers want.
There are several things that make this approach very effective:
- It is taught by a Whitehat Citrix-Certified Instructor who also regularly does major implementations. We think this is key. Our instructor has been Citrix certified for the last 8 years, and has been implementing this technology non-stop for the last 15 years. He understands what is written in the manuals, but more importantly, what actually works in the real world.
- Our instructor comes on-site and reviews your environment and your staff needs. By doing this, he can see what areas need attention in your environment, and what skills need honing in your staff, then based on that knowledge, he can craft a training agenda (with your input) that meets the needs of your situation. Then he stays on-site for the next day (or two or three) to cover only those subjects of defined interest. The topics may include XenApp, XenDesktop, NetScaler, StoreFront, or any other are of Citrix product knowledge.
- This is all done on-site and tailored to your needs and budget. This keeps the expenditure and time commitment as low as possible, and fosters the best learning environment (live with the instructor).
- You also get a mini-Citrix Healthcheck as a by-product. This is a two-for-one proposition for the same dollars in that the Healthcheck and the training are paid for by the same dollars.
We think that all training will go this direction in the future. For us, the future is now!