Brian Madden is now a Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA)

I'm often asked whether I'm Citrix-certified. For the past five years, my answer has been "no.

I'm often asked whether I'm Citrix-certified. For the past five years, my answer has been "no."

I used to be Citrix-certified. Back in September 1998 I passed the 1Y0-302 exam, "Citrix MetaFrame 1.0 Certification," with a score of 76%. When Citrix released the CCEA series of exams for MetaFrame 1.8, I took all four exams in a month to become one of the first CCEAs. (We got a jacket for being in the first fifty, if I remember correctly.)

But since 2000, I haven't taken a single exam. I've been lucky not to work at companies that required certifications. (And of course writing a book about Citrix in 2001/2002 pretty much guaranteed that I'd never have to take another Citrix exam for the rest of my life.)

Nevertheless, people still ask whether I'm certified. And when they find out I'm not, the next question I'm invariably asked is, "Do you think you could pass the exam if you just showed up and took it?"

I thought that was kind of a cool idea. If I can pass the exam without any exam prep--just my 10+ years of actual hands-on experience, then that is a really great endorsement of the quality of the exam. And if I fail, well, I guess that means the exam doesn't relate to the real world.

So the stage was set. Last week I went to Citrix.com, clicked around the education pages until I found the links, and signed myself up for exam 1Y0-259, "Citrix XenApp (Presentation Server 4.5): Administration." My plan was to just "show up" for the exam, with absolutely no preparation whatsoever. (And when I say "no preparation," I mean "no preparation." I did not read the syllabus. I did not take any practice exams. I did not read any brain dumps. In fact, I didn't even fire up a Citrix server just to run through the admin consoles. I literally did nothing different leading up to this exam.

The Exam

I honestly can't remember the last time I took a certification exam--certainly it was before I left HP to become independent back in May 2003. I chose the New Horizons testing center on 42nd Street in Manhattan for today's exam.

I ran from the subway to the building through a downpour, umbrella-less, to find that even though the New Horizons reception area was on the first floor, the exams were administered in the basement. (Some things never change!) I went downstairs and signed in with the exam receptionist where I was told that my exam was still downloading. (Again, never changes!) I showed my two forms of ID, surrendered my Blackberry, and followed her into the exam room with my three blank sheets of paper and my new Bic pen.

In that instant I was mentally teleported back to 1998 in Cleveland, Ohio. All white walls, crappy old computers, and a mouse whose buttons were stained with the caffeine that's leeched through the fingers of the years of exam-takers ahead of me.

Click-click-click. "Good luck!" Before I knew it the receptionist was gone and I was staring at an electronic NDA with "Agree and continue" and "Do not agree" buttons. In all the years I've been taking IT exams, I never actually took the time to read one of these NDAs. Since the main purpose of me spending 150 bucks on this exam was to write about the experience, I figured I should at least glance at a paragraph or two of this NDA.

Blah blah blah... you cannot disclose the questions... blah blah... you cannot disclose general topics were... wait, what?!? I cannot disclose which topics were on the exam? But doesn't Citrix publish a syllabus online?

Whatever. I can still write about whether I think the exam was a good exam or not as long as I talk broadly. So I think I'm fine. A quick click of the "Agree and continue" button and I'm off!

My timer starts counting down and I'm staring at Question 1. It was at this point that I realized I'd made a huge mistake. I know that I agreed that I would not disclose blah blah about the exam, but I'm going to purposefully break that NDA for this one question. The first question of my 1Y0-259, "Citrix XenApp (Presentation Server 4.5): Administration exam was the following: (I am not making this up.)

Which of the following cipher suites are supported by Secure Gateway? (choose two)

  • NET
  • COM
  • ORG
  • GOV

Are you f***ing kidding me? THIS is the first question? What have I gotten myself into? Whose stupid idea was it to just "show up" and take the test?!?

I mean imagine this: Here I am... I'm Brian. I wrote the book, okay? I just waltzed into this CCA exam expecting to cruise on through. 95 minutes total time? Pfft! It'll take me 15 minutes. I'll be home before lunch.

Questions 2 through 66: Not as bad

Needless to say, the rest of the questions were easier. (Read "more appropriate.")

Honestly I was pleasantly surprised by the exam. Citrix has done a great job of asking a bunch of really decent questions about all aspects of running a Presentation Server farm. In fact, I might go so far as to say that these were the same types of questions that I'd ask a potential candidate if I were trying to assess his or her grasp of Citrix.

Don't get me wrong... There were still plenty of B.S. questions--questions that I swear had more than one answer or that were so obscure no one would need to know them. But overall, I'd say about 80% of the questions were good solid questions that I felt a decent Citrix admin should know. And that's a far cry from ten years ago, when the exam was about 90% B.S. and 10% good stuff.

The result?

Passing this exam (and therefore receiving your Citrix Certified Administrator designation) requires a score of 68%. In the end, I passed with a 77%. (1% higher than my first Citrix exam from 1998 when I actually studied.) So I am now Citrix-certified once again! [UPDATE: No I'm not. There is an online e-learning course you're supposed to take too. I'm talking to Citrix today to find out more about what they're thinking here, because right now, this seems like total marketing BS. I'll post more as I learn it.]

Citrix deserves a lot of credit here. I know the CCA is just one exam. And sure it has its flaws. But all-in-all it's a decent test and probably about as good as any vendor could do. So should you go out and get Citrix-certified? It depends. If getting certified will get a raise at work, then yes! If you'll get a bonus, then yes! If you're afraid of getting laid off and you'll be in the job market? Sure, it can't hurt.

Then again, I've spent the majority of my career as an uncertified doer, and real world experience will beat out certifications any day.

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Thanks Brian..I really enjoy reading your blogposts..very entertaining...
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LOL

This most definitely affects your independent status.....you now MUST get certified on all other areas you blog about and not only pass these exams, but also not prepare in any way :-), jus to remain truly independent.

If you would have failed the test, would that have cost you your CTP status?? Just wondering :-)

--Cheers--

Siegfried

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Congratulations and welcome to the club :)

Brian what's youre opinion about the obligated CTX-1755 CW Elearning exam then? Don't you think that's completely BS exam only for one purpose: stealing money out of our pockets?

grtz, Jan  

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Uhmm, don't you need elearning CTX-1455CW to become a CCA?
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Yeah...don't you need to do a money grabbing e-learning exam to get full CCA? What a crap test this was.
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This is interesting. I've never heard of this exam (it's actually CTX-1455CW) before?!? It's listed as a requirement for the CCA, but then again, it's just an elearning course? I can't really figure out whether it's required or not.

But here's my opinion: If this is just another exam, that's fine. Then that means the CCA is two exams instead of one. But if they force you to take the course, and you can't take the exam without first taking the course, then that's crap.

Now if you pay for the "course," but then the exam is "free" at the end.. well I guess that's a gray area. As long as they let you skip the course part then I guess that's ok.

But now I'm confused. Maybe I'm not a CCA after all?

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Oh geez.. look at the description of that 1455 course:

This course introduces Citrix administrators and IT professionals to
common features of the management platform for Citrix Presentation
Server products. Administrators are introduced to Presentation Server
4.5 from a business benefit perspective and then learn what common
technical features enable those benefits.


Learners continue with an introduction to the Access Management
Console, including guided practice on selected capabilities, and then
proceed to learn how administrators can install, administer and support
the Citrix License Server, as well as address license issues common
across the functional components of Presentation Server

So this is obviously geared towards people who are new to Citrix. I can't possibly imagine they force you to take this course if you already know what you're doing?!?

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Brian, 

you should check on http://www.citrixcertmanager.com if you're REALLY certified! ;-)

Btw I agree with the people above: the e-learning exam is just BS!  

-- 

rob 

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Pretty sure the E-Training course is required before you actually get your certification.


Check citrixcertmanager.com and it will show you the requirements and where you currently stand.


 You will see that the elearning course is a required step.  Really the CCA ends ups costing 250 bucks....

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....you're smarter than 77%  :-)


Now next steps are CCEA, CCIA, CCI - and don't forget to "upgrade" your certification fast as you can  with the now available BETA test for XenApp 5.0 ...


 

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As someone stated in a separate reply, that this would compromise your independent status, this in no way compromises your independent status.  This is something that is, unfortunately or fortunately, a requirement in today's business environment.  I was right there with you as not thinking this was relevant for the work I was doing back in my days at HP and am doing today.  But guess what?  It is.  Clients and potential clients want to know that you have been certiifed (even if you did write the book)....just the nature of the beast.

Anyway, congrats on the CCA dude....

Michael

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Brian:


You have to take the Web Learning course CTX-1455CW course (mostly marketing and Citrix indoctrination) and pass the assessment quiz at the end of the web course before you become a CCA.


Citrix has screwed up their certification process by requiring these money gouging web courses to certification. It is all BS and greed. You have to take 5 of these web learning plus 5 vue/prometric tests (courseware is really required to pass because 80% of questions come from courses) to becaome a CCEA.


Hardly anyone other than the partners are going for certification beyond the CCA because of the confusion, difficulty, and test errors. Citrix loves to gouge their partners and the clients in any way they can.


If you ever take the 456 test with multiple conceptional errors or take the tests and courses to become a CCEA - you will know how screwed up Citrix education is.


Citrix education quality control is a mess......and they go out of their way not to listen to their partners.


The only course that is selling well is the CTX-1259.


The only certification that has substantial users other than the partners is the CCA.


Many Citrix Authorized Learning Centers have dropped Citrix because they are so anal!

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You know.. the 77% is funny. Because the only questions I didn't know were (by definition) ones that I thought were BS. :)

So really the test was 77% good, 23% BS!

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I have no plans to do exams unless I get fired :). As all ready said Exams VS Experience = Experience wins hands down. Well done to Brian getting a 100% since 23% were BS :)
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http://www.citrixtraining.com/uploadfiles/1/content/files/Q208_Certification_Brochure_041608.pdf
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Seeing you passed... where's the pie?
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Brian, congrats on the Pass... I took the e-learning class a few months ago. This is a total waste of time and more importantly money. Some of the questions focus on how much of a market share citrix has. What has this do to with administrating a citrix Farm? Citrix need to either update their e-learning class to be a relevant course or eliminate the requirement for certification. If somebody wants to be in sales & marketing, he/she should not be perusing the CCA.

 

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Brian,


Hopefully asking this question won't get me or you in any hot water, but I've got the same exam in 3 weeks and I wanted to know if you had any questions on Streaming Applications in yours? I can't find any mention of it in the Enablement Guide for 259, but I can't see how they won't ask questions on it.


Thanks

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Good to hear that the testing centers have not changed.. Test Downloading..LMAO..we used to download the tests over a 56k, the test pc's were all-in-one win 9x machines...sounds like its the same..

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You're right. I don't think I can specifically say whether streaming was or was not on the exam.

However, I just googled for and read the 259 Enablement Guide. And I can say that yes, the content of the exam was consistent with the guide. So if you know what's in that guide, you should be good.

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Citrix decided to add the streaming chapter to the course after they created the test. You will not see any questions on app streaming unless they re-write the test.

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After reading Brian's blog, I started investigating.  Indeed you have to watch the 2 hour e-learning course and answer the questions at the end and also pass either the 256 or 259 exam (ps4 or ps4.5).


 I've passed the exam but I never took the e-learning course.  Pretty lame how citrix has to find ways to nickel and dime you.

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Like Brian, I had gone without taking a certificate exam since 2001 when I took the 2000 Pro & Server Exams, and people were surprised to say the least when I told them that I was not Citrix Certified, and had never taken any Citrix test.  Well last year I was doing some consulting for a Platinum Partner that perferred if I got certified, even though they knew that I knew my shiznizzle.


I took this same exam, last summer and will echo Brian's experience in the sense that there were some good questions, but I think that there were some stoopid questions that have no business being on an administrator's exam (or any for that matter).


I think they should sit you down with an installation CD and a server and give you a list of objectives that you need to accomplish in X number of minutes.


I guess the one thing that always bugged me was that I'd run into CCEA/CCIA types that kenw everything that Citrix wanted them to regurgitate, but were basically clueless about the underlying product "Windows Terminal Server".  To be fair, there is no Microsoft curriculum for WTS, and there never has been.  I've offered at the last sever MVP summits to help them write their exams, but basically got the no thanks, as if they knew how people actually use their products.  We'll see if MSFT ever steps up to the plate on that front for 2008. 

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MS now has a TS course! Configuring and Troubleshooting Windows 2008 Terminal Services


Course 6428A - 2 day course

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The 2008 upgrade exam does have some questions towards the new Windows 2008 Terminal Services features.  The Windows Server 2008 Application Infrastructure Configuration exam also looks to have some Terminal Services questions from the description.  I agree Microsoft should have a Terminal Services Exam like Exchange, SQL, ISA, and so on.  I guess for the now the questions they have on the upgrade and Application Infrastructure Configuration exams is the closet it's going to get.
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That outline actually looks pretty good.  What I fear is that it doesn't go into any depth on application installations or printing, even though these are bullets on the syllabus.  Brian's classes will still be booked, as neither this nor Citrix classes teach one best practice, but rather how to do what the manual says, and say nnothing about 3rd party products that are "typically" used to solve common problems.


Don't get me wrong, this is better than what used to exist, and more than I expected.


http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/syllabi/6428aprelim.mspx

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Nice work on the cert.

Yeah the e-learning thing is a crock. Especially since the questions you get asked you can easily do a print screen from the presentation... but who would do such a thing...

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I'm a 2 time CCA and I print the entire e-learning course and just go straight for the exam questions and hunt for the answers in my printout.  Yes, the e-learning is a total crock of garbage.
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Streaming applications are NOT included in this examn. They are even added to the course books as a tiny little add-on but no questions are on the examn. To many people failed it and it was removed if i am correct here. I done that electronic BS examn in 2006 and it's still valid now I have to take the normal cca4.5 examn so we receive partner status again. Also took all the sales examns which are also a load of crap cause you can redo these examns until you pass so wonder what these examns are worth, in my opinion not even a cent.
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Your downright honestly was great.  I myself had wondered how I would fare based on my 5 + years of hands on experience.  Of course I didn't write a book, but I've written enough procedures to qualify.


I honestly have to say that you've given me encouragement to pursue my CCA.

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I sense a touch of bitterness, fail an exam recently did you?


 Oh and you facts are incorrect as well.

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I have never taken any vendor certification exams, as it hasn't been worthwhile for me even though it is for som amny others.  But I did participate in the development of an exam for Microsoft recently and that was an interesting experience to participate in.    The process tries to be fair, but I found that it was impossible to achieve a good result due to the way the exams are developed.  You really don't want BS questions such as the example in the article, but you want coverage against a sylibus list that is generated without out regard for how you would test for knowlege in that area so you must come up with a question (actually more than one since multiple tests are generated from the process).
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I took these about 3 months ago, it was about $300 and not very mac friendly.  I had to fire up a Windows VM just to take it.  I called Citrix education about it and said if you already passed the CCA then why take the e-learning coures.  Seemed a bit backwards to me.
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That's what these exams make it different from the crowd.  Anyone certified with these required a combination of hands on experience and in depth knowledge in theories.  E-learning always a joke and totally robbed.  Citrix should remove that e-learning requirements and replace with hardcore hands on deployment lab for XenApp 5.0 that would make things excited.


 

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I took a quick look at Citrix's Certification requirements.


You are required to take one, not five, e-learning courses as part of the CCEA program.  Web based training courses are recommended along with class room training as part of the exam preparation process, but are not required.


 


 

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Sorry Brian you're not quite there yet, the 1455 'course\exam' is a requirement.  This same exam is also required to get the Password Manager and Access Gateway Cert and if you had taken it then I'm rather afraid that you would have found stronger words than 'crap' to express your opinion of it. 


On a positive note, I know Citrix took a lot of criticism about making this a certification requrement and have addressed it in the more recent certs.  There is no requirement to sit 1455 or anything similar for XenDesktop/Server Provisioning Server etc.  and I think we can be confident in seeing it dropped from the XenApp 5.0 Cert when it comes out.    


BTW _ I took the beta for the new XenApp 5.0 Implementation exam yesterday, there is significantly greater emphasis on thinking rather than remembering than is in the 4.5 exam.  If this emphasis remains in the finished product, then I would expect that it will be a better indicator of real world ability than any previous CCA level exam.


 

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I participated in the review of the streaming education stuff and it included certification questions.  Picture a room full of education people and programmers trying to come up with good questions (pick 'C'!).  That said, I have no idea if the certification questions made it over from the streaming test was merged into the XenApp test.   They're all good questions though, much better than that crypto thing referenced in Brian's post.
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I took the test and made a 97% on it. but alas i did study :(, so you still beat me.
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You'll always be the CCA in our eyes... Glad to see you took the leap.


 

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Is there a place that list how many people are certified on CCA and CCEA exams?
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Brian


 Thanks for posting this.  I am a trainer mostly of Microsoft products, but I have to take other certifications rom time to time.  I just started with the Citrix cert 2 weeks ago I took the week long class that went along with the 1Y0-259, "Citrix XenApp (Presentation Server 4.5): Administration exam.  I studied for another week and took the exam.  I passed with a 90%.


The 1Y0-259, test I felt was relevent not only to the class, and the study material, but aa real world experience as well.  All in all I learned a lot. 


However; (steps onto soap box) the online e-learning course is complete shit.  I took the 1Y0-259, exam first, not knowing there was another process I missed.  I to had doubts about the e-learning, as it turns out it's a complete waste of time.  There is nothing in the "online e-learning course" that you cant get from a PDF of the Citrix Manual.  The test at the end wass a complete joke as it tried to measure your knowledge of what you just went over.  It costs $100 to get this test and if you fail the questions at the end you'll have to pay another $100 bucks and take it again.  When I take an e-learning course I want to actually get something out of it, other than a credit card reciept.


Say what you want about Microsoft at least their e-learning, you actully go in and use live VM's so you can get a feel for the product your learning about the Citrix e-learning was just a powerpoint presentation.  Citrix could take a few leasons from Microsoft.


(Steps down from soapbox)


Thanks again for posting you experience I found it usefull.


 


 

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