Is the CCP-V Worth It?
For those unaware, Citrix has been in the Application Virtualization space before that term was even commonly used. For those of us who have been in IT awhile, we may remember MetaFrame or Presentation Server from the early 1990s. At the time and initial release of Microsoft Terminal Server, the RDP protocol was rather buggy so many installations opted to install Citrix and use the ICA protocol instead. Needless to say, Citrix has a few decades of experience in this space.
What Citrix's products do in layman’s terms, is to put a traditional thick client or desktop application on a server but allow remote users access to it without having to install that software locally on their machines. This was really popular with thin clients which had a minimal amount of compute to connect to the remote systems. It allows more centralized management of application rollout and less worry about the endpoint connecting. Later on this became more popular with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies to allow employees to use their personal devices at work.
What is the CCP-V?
The Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) certification covers Citrix's current platform of Application and Desktop virtualization. Citrix has a three-level certification process. This starts with Associate and then progressing to Professional and then Expert. The "P" in CCP-V indicates that it is a Professional level certification. The "V" signifies the Virtualization specification of being Citrix Certified.
This certification covers Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop or its new branding of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. It also covers topics of Citrix Provisioning Server, which is commonly paired with it for environments that need to scale much larger than the base product. This certification does require a wide range of knowledge as it touches on the end user experience, networking, storage provisioning and inner workings of the product itself and how each piece communications with other pieces.
What Does the CCP-V Test?
There are quite a few exam objectives but some of the most important ones are as follows
Workspace Environment Management (WEM)
The Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA)
Provisioning Services Infrastructure
These are great objectives to start getting comfortable with and learn more while you start to study as they touch on the full spectrum of an installation.
How Much Does the CCP-V Exam Cost?
As with any "Is it Worth it" decision, cost is a factor. The cost of this exam is $300 (USD) as is most of their Professional-level certifications. It is worth noting that currently for first time certifications of CCP-V it is required to have your CCA-V. This Associate level cost is $200 USD so the total cost to obtain a new certification is $500 USD.
What Experience Do You Need for the CCP-V?
Someone looking to get their CCP-V should have rough exposure with the concepts of Desktop or Application Virtualization. This may come from older technologies like Terminal Server or Remote Desktop Server (RDS) or even related products from other vendors.
They should also have experience installing and configuring Windows Server along with basic network essentials. Knowledge and experience deploying and tuning desktop and server operating systems is important as that is the base image of this virtualization platform. Much of your work will be tweaking the images for rollout. The networking essentials are required as IP ranges will have to be allocated and some components need to talk to each other such as the Virtual Desktop Agent to the controllers. While on the other hand the business applications still need to function on the network.
Ideally a candidate would have 6 months experience with or exposure to XenApp, XenDesktop, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops or competing products. This will help give you a great baseline and comfort level with the technology when studying.
Who Should Take the CCP-V?
A wide range of prospective IT professionals could benefit from the CCP-V. Typically the CCP-V will help assist those currently doing some level of Virtual Desktop Administration looking to further their career. It could also be a Virtual Desktop Engineer looking to increase their marketability and salary.
CCP-V for Desktop Virtualization Administrators
There are a few common titles or roles this may apply to. Naturally an immediate value for this would go to someone with a title of desktop virtualization engineer. These are people who are already performing related tasks and wish to increase that marketability or increased responsibilities. They may wish to solidify their knowledge and fix any gaps going through this certification process.
Organizations where the client is the internal business needs can benefit from solidifying the skills of their employees. On the other hand, when the client is external, having this certification adds some value and trust to the solutions provider when selling the implementation.
CCP-V for Systems Engineers
Systems engineer is a fairly generic title and can mean many things to different organizations. Many times this generic title is on purpose because the engineer may handle quite a few different areas of the infrastructure. A common staffing strategy is not to silo employees and to cross train them on the various technologies. This lends itself to a cross trained tier of employees that can accommodate a wide range of the organization's infrastructure. If Citrix's Desktop Virtualization is part of that topology a systems engineer role would be a great fit for this certification.
CCP-V for Help Desk Leads
A help desk lead is someone that has shown initiative to get to that point. They are usually a quick learner and like to solve problems. In an environment that utilizes this type of virtualization or is planning on it, it would not be a huge jump for a help desk lead to elevate into a virtual desktop engineer position. They are very likely to do well with the increased responsibilities, title and job duties.
Is the CCP-V Worth It?
Some certifications are entry level and generic. They create a foundation for other learning. Those types of certifications are almost always worth it. The CCP-V is a highly specialized certification not only to Application and Desktop Virtualization but to Citrix's product line. On top of that it is a Professional level certification. What this means is that the "Worth It" factor is going to depend on whether your job duties or desired duties will include those specializations.
As with any certification, the "Worth It" factor is going to depend on price. With unlimited time and money, we would all probably certify on everything! The CCP-V does come somewhat steep for those initially obtaining this certification, requiring the $200 CCA-V and then $300 CCP-V. It is not uncommon for some certifications to require multiple tests and in this case it is a nice value that passing the first test does give you an actual certification. If your organization is using those technologies now though or plans on it, this certification is definitely "Worth It".
On the other hand, if your company is just starting out on its investigations of this type of virtualization and has not selected a product line, there are probably some more generic certifications, studies or lower level certifications that are more worth it until a solid path has been put on paper.
Using CCP-V to Learn Skills
CCP-V is a Professional-level certification by Citrix so studying for it can help even those with some basic exposure. Many times on the job experience can be great but it leads to knowledge gaps or a missing understanding of some best practices. This can be for any number of reasons. The common one is that you are in a lower tier of support than the organization feels comfortable with you making changes. Studying for this Professional-level certification is a great tool to fill those knowledge gaps.
Using CCP-V to Validate Skills
While nearly all certifications are great to validate skills, this is an excellent certification for those looking to specialize and market themselves as desktop virtualization engineers using Citrix's product suite. Being in Citrix's Professional-level tier, it holds quite a bit of weight versus an Associate level. Contractors looking for this specialized work will be able to more easily sell themselves to clients. Organizations can feel more at ease when trying to ensure business continuity on related deployed technologies when they have this level of certification on staff.