Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop 7.6: free training - is it possible?

on Sunday, 02 November 2014 21:00.

Share

Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 was released in October 2014. Can you learn about it for free?

Since October I've had a number of requests asking about free resources to get people up-to-speed on this Citrix release. Either as they are learning it net-new, or that they're coming from a XenApp 6.5 or XenDesktop 5.6 deployment and think its just about learning a new console name.  

Why not just..Google it? Because the key to any list of links is "is that going to be useful for me?"

Is it a case of simply buying the White Album again..just learning what the console's name has been changed to this time.. or is it more involved? While the early v7 didn't get a great press and had challenges, XenApp XenDesktop 7.6 has moved on, undoubtedly qualifying that with every mistake someone, somewhere must surely be learning.   

Tommy Lee Jones thinking about when the I's dot was red, not I in Black...

While this may not be your Birthday let us summarise what is available for free that can be useful: maximise your time. Although, if you're unaware of the White Album this may well be a blog in which you feel you've been diverted and that is overly long long long.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

If you've already deployed the technology, no matter in which market place your XenDesktop XenApp barrow sits 7.6 is likely a Big Change. First of all - three key resources.

  • Time Get yourself some Time. Schedule time in your diary to look at this block it out each week and keep it free and just do this activity. Turn off the email. Hang up the phone. Go to the pub Find somewhere where you won't be disturbed. Couple of hours a week dedicated time is a better investment than half knowing something and trying to learn it via Google under a deadline while what you half learned causes a fire of monumental proportions. There are a good deal of resources available; some of them require on-line access, so having a fixed point where you can review (or prepare for review by downloading for later) will be useful. Thinking on, it'd be be useful if there was a "Virtual Academy" that curated and collated the extensive resources available into courses on topics - but that isn't available today. 
  • Get a Citrix Education account which you can get  from this link. If you're already a Citrix customer, make sure that you've not already got an account set-up. If you're not a Citrix customer (yet) you can create an account anyway ..so it seems from my testing - by all means drop me a line if that isn't the case. 
  • Turn on and tune in to the Citrix TV site (http://www.citrix.com/tv/). There's a large amount of content here: loosely organised to be honest, but there and available for free none the less. Some sessions are 10-15 minutes long talking over a specific topic (e.g. How to download a license file) all the way through to a sit-down-with-popcorn-and-some-fizzy-pop 2 hour XenDesktop Master Class: Live Install of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6. There are Citrix partner led sessions too - for example there is a Citrix Ready Joint Webinar with Atlantis Computing on their ILIO storage optimization technology. What I appreciate about the Citrix.TV site is that you can readily download all the content for off-line viewing: handy when the "quiet time" you've designated is your commute on public transport or the travel is through the dead internet zone of Underground, or the Pennines (you likely have local equivalents) 

In addition, there's a useful summary of highlight of features from Paweł Serwan of the Polish Citrix User Group. Initial learning is going to be around underlying architecture (no more IMA, that Storefront stuff is key), monitoring, and migration. The majority of you will likely be coming from XenApp 6.5 or earlier: be aware of deprecated features and features where defaults change not least of which is the lack of Local Host Cache under the new FMA Architecture (there is a doc about that). While Web Interface has had a reprieve and will be supported there are a feature differences between Web Interface and StoreFront 2.5.

There will likely be re-thinks in the way you monitor and maintain your production environment. To guide your learning, get an overview of 7.6: then consider what is important in your environment - with regards to application access internally and remotely access, how you monitor, what you've got in place today; then consider your migration. If there is a gap between whats important to your organisation and whats available to learn about for free - talk to your Citrix partner, check the forums, engage with your local Citrix User Group

 

Glass Onion

When anyone considers learning A New Thing, many consider it will come at A Cost. Citrix have put some effort into providing free training - we can only consider that a product manager somewhere is on the ball. 

You've a number of Citrix provided courses and resources to start you off. 

What's New in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6?  - a decent intro to the latest features. This webinar is 55 minutes long. What what be really useful in Go-To-WebCasts is the ability to have a "Content Index/Scene Select" so you could skip to where you needed to be (so you can dip in and out). I'd personally appreciate an offline link to these sort of resources (like with Citrix TV)  but maybe that's because I travel a lot and access can be patchy..heaven help rural users who want to run the video content without decent broadband..

If you feel the same way about either of the remote access points drop me a line - sharpening pitch forks, lighting torches and storming Parliament is liekly better as a "community" experience - or we can try the canvassing stuff too. 

Free XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 Training - While half of what I've said so far may be meaningless, this surely sounds just the ticket. Except it isn't: quite. There is a free one hour course which is self-paced and online via Citrix Training. Pretty comprehensive once you get past the Citrix Employee reading out loud the bullets. There is also an Intro to AppDNA. yet, the "Getting started.." course is still TBA as of publishing. Hopefully that comes soon - on the meantime there are resources on Citrix TV. 

 

How do you get access to these resources? As mentioned, technically, be a Citrix Partner or Customer: which is a pity is it not? Face value it appears you can't learn about Citrix products, advocate Citrix products, be up-to-speed with Citrix products and ease project progression... without being a customer?

Education. Education. Education is key in any walk of life.

Want to learn about Microsoft's Desktop Virtualization - here you go "free to anyone". VMware's EUC? - here you go as well. While both have partners who provide valuable chargeable courses, both organisations have learning for free without the apparent caveat of pre-customisation.

This could perhaps beg the question from Citrix - do you, don't you want me to love you?

That said, in signing up I don't think there is a check so you can do it anyways - in which case the wording should be changed to advocate a more open policy. Simples. 

There are of course, community based walk-throughs on YouTube such as How to install and configure XenDesktop 7.6 and XenApp 7.6 or by text such as Upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to 7.6 but the greater wealth of content should be more openly available from Citrix.  

 

Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

There is free training - but how do you test it out? Everyone has something like this sat idly about for them to test on yes?

 

Or maybe not.

VMware have their on-line labs - where you can sign-up if you'd like to try their EUC solution ; I'm not aware of a similar function available at Citrix as of the time of writing. 

 

Don't Pass Me By

This may be a time to mention that certifications are retiring as of November 28th 2014:

  • Citrix Certified Integration Architect (CCIA) for Virtualization
  • Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) for Virtualization

That means they are still valid - they've not expired..yet: if you've either of those qualifications and still not started on the conversion to time to start prepping. 

Full list of Citrix Exam and Qualification Discontinuation, Retirement and Expiration Announcements here.

What I have been impressed by is the recent addition by Citrix Education of the Citrix Practice Exams  which are relatively low cost (<$35). It is not unusual to want a try out before taking an exam - especially if it is your first. As an experiment, for you dear reader, I tried the XenServer 6.0 (CPE-26). I thought it was  of far better quality of question than many of the comparable low cost on-line/pdf test exams (please visit the blog sponsors, thats how I pay for this). That's not to say there aren't better alternatives: but there are some rubbish third party resources out there that offer PDF downloads for low cost that do not prepare you as well for the exam. I see this resource as taking them out: which is a good thing. 

The Citrix offering (if the same holds across the board) are only online - but of a decent standard of question. There is a limited amount of feedback and a smaller number of inquisitions (less than or equal to the amount asked in the exam). For the price - a good confirmation resource. The likes of Boson (for instance.. which I have worked for) will be more expensive but will typically have a larger question set (more than the exam) and give you differing levels of feedback and options for testing.  

Ultimately, any exam prep should prepare you for the challenge, not give you the challenge to learn by rote. From what I've experienced Citrix's low cost option is a good prep for the money.    

I Will

With every mistake we must surely be learning.

There are free resources (Citrix Education, Citrix TV) direct from Citrix - make use of them. You can, of course, RTFM and engage with Citrix's Community Resources (check out the User Groups - which often lead to great independent author blogs and Citrix Technology Professionals).

Get a lab. To date, Citrix don't provide test labs outside of Synergy. Home kit can be your friend (or enemy should your partner discover the receipts). If home investment is not an option, isolate resources in the office: getting some new kit.. this means you're releasing some old. Get a non-prod environment to let you stand up a pre-prod environment and run it through. Ideally, do a migration piece to understand differences between what you have now and what you can have in the future.

There are also a wide range of fill-your-expense book options for which I will call out XenAppTraining which I've used for years and can highly recommend: other training providers are available. 

Most importantly, feed forward: whatever you find out - try and share that learning. Submit to the Citrix support forums, come along and present at your Citrix User Groups or indeed Synergy. Embrace the attitude that you've nothing to hide, and neither has your monkey.

Come on, come on, come on (repeat ad lib til fade)... 

Foundation for Success (Redux)

on Monday, 08 September 2014 20:13.

Share

As nights vs days becomes score draws and children are kicked off to university/school/nursery (delete as appropriate) it's time to admit its been a busy summer. Not had a chance to sit down and write here, I've a backlog of stuff to put on: no thanks in part to pressing F5 on the BBC's transfer page.

Still, I'll signal kick off by proudly standing under the steely eye of stewards and stating that Gilwood CS has put pen to paper to support the  SAFC Foundation of Light for the third year running. 

Scarf above Head Shot

The SAFC Foundation of Light uses the power of football to educate and motivate young people from Sunderland and its surrounding areas and last year, helped over 42,000 children through innovative projects, advancing literacy and numeracy and improving confidence and aspirations, as well as raising awareness of citizenship issues and improving employment skills. To find out more about the SAFC Foundation's work browse through what they do.

If you too are prompted to help, you can help raise funds as an individual, or perhaps your company can help the Foundation in a business capacity.

Onward and upward...

 

 

 

--------

This item was brought to you by The Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall by Dave Brubeck Quartet. 

 

the early bird catches the reduced conference entry prices...

on Saturday, 19 July 2014 13:30.

Share

While at the London VMUG this week, I attended Mike Laverick's well time kept session on the excitement that is a career in IT - specifically focused around the need to keeping skills fresh. A career in IT can be a job for life, but very likely not in the same role, or company. 

In his overview for Tech Ed Europe 2014 Aidan Finn talked about how traditional learning mechanisms can no longer keep up with sprint development, new features out every few weeks, and RTMs every 12-18 months. I'd agree with Aidan that conferences (and user group meetings) can give you a valuable and focused time to get to grips with new technologies, understand trends and discuss these with your peers for review and extra insight. 

Often there is best value in booking early for these events, not only for flights and accommodation but, for the early bird discount on the conference itself. Some are coming fast to a close:

 

VMworld Europe 2014 Early Bird Pricing ends on 29th July 2014  (with an additional discount if you've subscribed to VMUG Advantage, which in addition to the other benefits VMUG Advantage gives is worth your investment in VMUG Advantage) - so get your registration hat on

Time for Citrix Labs to make a Greater Exhibition of themselves Now Dropbox have DropKick?

on Sunday, 08 June 2014 19:51.

Share

Dropbox has subsumed another early stage startup, the (ex) stealth company Droptalk . Dropbox now have a team and tool that (apparently) allows you to share links privately with friends via a Chrome extension; prior to assimilation there were plans for this to be followed by both iOS and Android applications. This is in addition to Zulip who were developing similar stuff. You can find out more detail on the acquisitions and transfers from TechCrunch.

Mobility has become key. Mobility means not only working outside of a cubicle, or indeed a single office location but between devices. File synchronisation services (such as Dropbox) have developed beyond allowing offline working and file backup to allowing simplified transfer of files between devices. And indeed, there is a natural progression again as few work in splendid isolation.

I've worked with Huddle and Citrix's Podio which are great for on-line team collaboration - with Podio perhaps edging it by allowing you not only to share calendars, content and conversations but create workflows and applications and share (or re-use) those resources with a wider community. 

There is an advantage in having your team's file sync service be supported by an efficient quick messaging/conversation: to discuss document changes; to ask a quick question, to free flow ideas before committing to the document. To ask about slippage, to brag about early delivery. There is no team without interaction and communication. Teams are social. A lack of a usable social tool was arguably a  reason Microsoft bought Yammer.   

One business alternative to Dropbox is Citrix ShareFile. Could Citrix compete to Dropbox's acquisition?

Citrix's Crystal Palace is a tool that you can install on Android, iOS, Mac Windows that allows you to send files, links and clipboard information from your device, to your colleagues devices directly (using Citrix's Sharefile file sync tool). Very neat. Very simple transfer of files and data not only between your own devices, but those of colleagues and clients too. As such, can allow for faster (by it being targeted) collaboration with that collaboration extending to links and clipboard: removing email and interacting more directly (questions around traceability slightly to one side) 

But it is not "discussion". 

Yet, Citrix have an environment that can reduce the cost of acquisition through innovation. Their Citrix Labs output has a number of projects that not only include Crystal Palace but Cloudex and Convoi:

 

Clouddex lets you learn about and connect with your coworkers, all from your smartphone. Use the built-in expertise search to leverage the collective wisdom of your whole company. The “Build a Team” wizard makes it simple to staff a new project with just the right mix of people and talent.

Convoi is a  team nascent team calling in one simple app. With just a tap people can communicate with all their team members. No phone numbers and no access codes. They can create teams as they need for their personal and work interactions and to stay connected.

 

Undoubtedly, discussion and collaboration is key for organisations, without that, teams fail and die. Those involved in "traditional" file  sync/backup who want to appeal to the enterprise need to add value to their core service to aid such collaboration. Dropbox have gone down the acquisition route - but have nothing yet (both the Dropkick and Zulip acquisitions were in early development). Citrix has the benefit of having the foresight to to have a skunk works team who appear to be ahead, or at least on the curve. The key will be in who can deliver a reliable solution the quickest. There are larger players in this market  (Apple, Google, Microsoft) - but the likes of Dropbox and Citrix can offer a cross platform environment which is more readily deployable because it can sit across different devices types and OSes. You can't truly collaborate and hold yourself to a single platform.

The question for Citrix is - the output of their Citrix Labs team is impressive, but will they simply continue to fiddle on clever projects while their competitors deliver more rapidly and burn them.