New Citrix certifications: Present and future
Last December I had the good fortune to speak with Ophir Erez, the Senior Director of Education Programs at Citrix. For those not already in the know, Citrix is a long-time player in a number of important computing technologies including remote access (Microsoft licensed Citrix code in the 1990s to create its own Terminal Server product), virtual desktop and server access and management, and more. Starting in 2012, Citrix began a multi-year remake of its certification program, which today covers three levels of credentials across three tracks. Those levels are depicted in this screen cap from the Citrix Certification home page:
New Citrix Certifications
Citrix certifications are now solutions-based, reflecting the evolving needs of IT professionals and organizations. As a certified associate, professional or expert, you can prove that you have the real-world skills and experience required to deliver successful Citrix solutions.
At present, the three Citrix certification tracks are: Apps and Desktops (centered around XenDesktop solutions), Networking (centered around NetScaler), and Mobility (centered around emerging tools and technologies for designing, deploying, and managing mobile solutions).
Of these three tracks, only Apps and Desktops offers a fully-populated roster of credentials — namely:
- Citrix Certified Associate — Apps and Desktops (CCA-AD): single-exam (1Y0-200) credential to vet operators or administrators who work with XenDesktop 7 to manage, maintain, monitor and deploy virtual desktops. Those who already hold CCA and CCAA can qualify for this credential by taking the 1Y0-200 exam
- Citrix Certified Professional — Apps and Desktops (CCP-AD): takes the CCA-AD as a prerequisite, and requires a single follow on exam (1Y0-300) to install, configure, and test complete remote desktop solution deployments using XenDesktop 7. Those who hold the CCEE for Virtualization can qualify for CCA-AD by taking the 1Y0-300 exam.
- Citrix Certified Expert — Apps and Desktops (CCE-AD): takes the CCP-AD) as a prerequisite, and requires a single exam (1Y0-400) to identify experienced solution designers (for example, architects, engineers, or consultants) who can assess or design comprehensive XenDesktop 7 solutions and deployments. Those who hold the CCIA for Virtualization can qualify for CCE-AD by taking the 1Y0-400 exam as well.
The Networking track currently offers only Associate and Professional level credentials, both of which aim at Citrix NetScaler, inlcuduing such topics as implementation for virtualized app and desktop delivery, plus networking performance and optimization coverage:
- Citrix Certified Associate — Networking (CCA-N): requires taking the 1Y0-250 exam (Implementing Citrix NetScaler 10 for XenDesktop or XenApp Solutions). Covers assessing infrastructure needs, designing a NetScaler implementation, building a remote access solution, and securing NetScaler. Also includes how to integrate other Citrix, Microsoft or third-party technologies, configuring disaster recovery, customizing traffic, managing auditing, monitoring and reporting, and troubleshooting NetScaler issues. There is no prior Citrix certification for which the CCA-N is an upgrade path.
- Citrix Certified Professional — Networking (CCP-N): doesn't take the CCA-N as a prerequisite, but requires taking the 1Y0-350 exam (Citrix NetScaler 10 Essentials and Networking). This covers configuring NetScaler settings and related network-related settings, implementation and traffic, load balancing for back-end servers and traffic, and configuring SSL offloading. Also included: configuring acceleration and optimization of traffic handling, customizing traffic handling, monitoring activities and performance, and troubleshooting NetScaler issues. Here again, there is no prior Citrix certification for which the CCP-N is an upgrade path.
- At present, there is no Citrix Certified Expert — Networking (CCE-N) credential, but the networking page indicates that it will be "coming next." In my conversation with Mr. Erez, he indicated this final networking credential would be likely to appear sometime later this year.
The Mobility track is the least elaborated, and currently offers only a professional level certification
- Citrix Certified Professional — Mobility (CCP-M): With no associate level credential extant, it can't be a prerequisite, so at present earning the CCP-M requires only taking the 1Y0-370 (Design, Deploy and Manage Citrix XenMobile). This exam covers designing a XenMobile enterprise solution, installing, configuring and integrating those components, and also, managing and maintaining them.
- In conversations with Mr. Erez, he indicated that most IT Professionals already engaged with mobility would be best suited to pursue an intermediate, practitioner's level credential. That, along with a strong voiced desire from clients to jump-start mobility training and skills, explains why the professional level cert is the first to appear in this sequence. Erez indicated that the Associate level credential would be likely to appear late this year or early in 2015, with the Expert level credential sometime thereafter.
The astute reader will notice that this represents a major rework of the prior and existing Citrix certification program. It also shows how important Citrix believes mobility to be for its future success, being ranked as equal to its two primary areas of business today – namely desktop and server virtualization (Apps and Desktops, in the new lexicon), and NetScaler and related tools and technologies (Networking, in the new lexicon).