I did become a CTA – How did that happen?

tl;dr: Create a blog, check out Twitter and follow the community.
Share content, even if you’re no Pro, everybody needs to start somewhere.

A few years ago I was thinking about which path I should take in my IT career. My key competences were clear for some time. During and after my apprenticeship at my employer ANAXCO GmbH, I was on several instructor-led Citrix classroom courses. One of my main tasks in our company is the design and configuration of Citrix virtual apps and Desktops Sites (formerly XenApp & XenDesktop Farms) for the provisioning of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 / 2012 / 365. There is a reason our company’s name is “AN AX COmpany”. So my work with CVAD and Citrix Gateway  (formerly NetScaler Gateway) was already settled. Besides that I had the opportunity to go to a brilliant deep dive classroom course for Microsoft Group Policy at NT-Systems in Germany.

Apart from CVAD, my work focuses on WSUS maintenance, Software- and Patchdeployment with PDQ Deploy, availability and performance monitoring with Zabbix and basic Firewall administration with pfSense.

I already knew about the Citrix CTP program and I discovered that it is quite valuable to follow those folks on Twitter. Most of them also have a blog with great articles about their work. I always spend a lot time of time on Twitter and reading blog articles. It was about that time that I thought for myself, that it was worth the time to try that myself. My biggest concern was, that I’ve never done any big deployments. And by big I mean 300+ concurrent user. (Fun Fact: It’s a running gag in instructor driven classroom courses, that I’m always the participant with the smallest CVAD Deployments 😅 ) There’s a reason my blog is called My little Farm.) Due to this I know, that I had big knowledge gaps in the Citrix product stack. For example I’ve never done PVS or advanced Citrix Gateway configurations (and by advanced I mean something besides ICA Proxy and Load Balancing). But none the less I was sure, that I knew some tricks and hints others might be interested in.

But there was also another reason. I have always been a big fan of Linux. And I had the aspiration to increase my Linux Skills. So I asked our CIO, who is also our head of Linux administration, if I was allowed to operate a public Linux Server from one of our data centers. He agreed.

That was the start for the German Citrix WordPress Blog in the summer of 2013:
Meine Kleine Farm (aka My Little Farm)

I started writing articles. Many articles. I published links to them on Twitter and I also got some positive Feedback. Mostly E-mails from people saying thank you and also a few questions. But all in all it wasn’t a lot.

I really can’t say why I thought it was a good idea to write in German and why I thought it for several years. But at the end of 2016 I finally decided to switch the blog post language from German to English. To honor this transition, I decided to try some bigger articles, about topics which haven’t been covered on my blog, yet. And things changed a lot! My Twitter statistics exploded. (Which wasn’t too hard as they have always been very low at this point 😉 ) Famous CTPs and CTAs retweeted my Blog article. This made me confident that my basic CVAD skills weren’t a problem after all, as long I was able to solve interesting problems and share the solutions with the community. And besides that, nobody becomes a IT Pro, while sitting at home and doing nothing. There has to be a start, there has to be a learning curve, you have to grow with your tasks.

I can’t remember the exact timeline, but thanks to Twitter I started to get in contact with other Citrix administrators. It was great to have the opportunity to ask questions and also get feedback on my blog. Specifically I want to say Thank you! to (in no particular order):

  • James Rankin who always answered my questions and encouraged me to apply for the CTA class
  • René Bigler for his interesting Tweets and who also always responded to questions
  • Helge Klein for the German VCNRW (Virtualization Community) meetings
  • My at the time girlfriend, today wife, who always responds to the question:
    “What could I do with my spare time today?”
    “Go work on your blog!”

As I said, my blog articles created quite some interest. So I got a bit cocky. I already knew about the small CTP as I called it, the CTA community award. I read the articles about it and asked James Rankin, who was part of the first CTA class back then, many questions about it. He encouraged me to just give it a shot, as it won’t hurt either. He give me one simple advice that I would like to quote here:

Just produce content on a regular basis.

So I waited for the 2017/2018 CTA class application and just singed in. I won’t tell too much about the application, but I would like to tell you that I wrote very clearly that I’m no Citrix expert, that I would like to share my findings and that I think the CTA membership would be a chance for me to become better. I was just honest.

I got accepted.

Now a few years later I received my third acceptance E-Mail for the CTA Class of 2020!

Marco Hofmann – part of the CTA class since 2017
You can find my (now English) Blog at -> https://www.meinekleinefarm.net/
You can also find me on Twitter -> https://twitter.com/xenadmin

This blog post first published at myCUCG a few weeks ago: https://www.mycugc.org/blogs/marco-hofmann/2020/04/07/i-did-become-a-cta-how-did-that-happen

Author: Marco

Marco is an IT-System administrator and IT-Consultant with 10+ years experience. He is specialized in the delivery of virtual Apps and Desktops with Citrix solutions. In 2017 he has been awarded Citrix Technology Advocate by Citrix for his community work (#CTA). His second core area is availability & performance monitoring with Zabbix, a leading open-source solution. His employer is the German IT-Company ANAXCO, which is developing a Transport Management Software (TMS) based on Microsoft Dynamics AX. More about Marco

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