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