Which NetScaler Training Class Should I Take?

Citrix NetScaler training can be complicated, especially if you haven’t taken Citrix training before. Here’s a guide to Citrix NetScaler training, written for those who need help determining which NetScaler class is best for you.

Currently, there are three NetScaler training courses: 

This article will help determine which of the above you should take. Think of this as a quick roadmap to help you ensure that you are taking the right NetScaler training classes for your job and certification requirements.


In 2016, the Citrix NetScaler curriculum was re-designed into a modular format to allow students to attend the training that is right for their product needs.  As a result, the CNS-220 and CNS-222 courses contain common content in days 1-3 and unique content on days 4-5. 

Which NetScaler Training Class Should I Take? (Brief) 

The really short answer is: 

  • For Load Balancing and Policies, take CNS-220. 
  • For NetScaler Gateway, take CNS-222. 
  • For NetScaler Application Firewall and NetScaler MAS, take CNS-320. 

The long answer, is that you may need more than one NetScaler course and we can discuss the details below.


No, Really, Which Class Should I Take? (Detailed) 

First a quick overview of each course and its modular content: 

CNS-220:  Citrix NetScaler Essentials and Traffic Management 

This NetScaler training course consists of CNS-218 (NetScaler Essentials) for days 1-3, which is the NS core administration and load balancing topics.  This covers NetScaler core administration, such as:  NetScaler setup, High Availability, SDX considerations, along with Load Balancing, SSL Offload, Delegated Authentication, NetScaler logs, log management and troubleshooting.


It also consists of CNS-219 (NetScaler Traffic Management) for days 4-5, which covers policy-based features and GSLB.  This section is important to load balancing administrators who are interested in how the policy engines work (classic and default) and features that affect traffic management and optimization:  Content Filtering, Responder, Rewrite, Content Switching, and Compression.  It also covers Global Server Load Balancing.


Who is this class for?  CNS-220 is good for anyone who is new to Citrix NetScaler and whose primary NetScaler use-cases are for load balancing, traffic management, and optimization.  It also provides a great foundation in policy engines, which can be applied to the other NetScaler courses.


Who is this class NOT for?:  This NetScaler training course is not for administrators whose primary function is administering the NetScaler Gateway only.  However, anyone who is looking for comprehensive administration on both NetScaler Load Balancing and NetScaler Gateway may take this course in addition to the NetScaler Gateway training (see [bundle options] below).


CNS-222: Citrix NetScaler Essentials and Unified Gateway 

This NetScaler training class consists of CNS-218 (NetScaler Essentials Class) for Days 1-3, which is the same content as Days 1-3 in the CNS-220 course.  Whichever, class you start with, you will receive the same administration and load balancing topics.


It also consists of CNS-221 (NetScaler Unified Gateway Class) for Days 4-5, which covers the NetScaler Gateway configuration and includes topics on full SSL VPN configuration and Management and NetScaler Gateway integration with XenApp/XenDesktop environments. Specifically, it covers the policy engine with an emphasis on topics related to the VPN configuration on the NetScaler, full SSL VPN integration, ICA Proxy integration with XenApp/XenDesktop environments, and other features of the Unified Gateway.


Who is this class for? CNS-222 is good for anyone new to the NetScaler administration and whose primary use of the NetScaler and whose primary use case is for integrating the NetScaler with XenApp/XenDesktop environments.  It will cover the Unified Gateway configuration for full SSL VPN administration, ICA Proxy/HDX Proxy integration for XenApp/XenDesktop, and load balancing integration for XenApp/XenDesktop components.


Who is this class NOT for?  Well, anyone whose primary use of the NetScaler does not include the SSL VPN or NetScaler Gateway features.


CNS-320:  Citrix NetScaler Advanced Topics – Security, Management, and Optimization 

CNS-318 (Secure Web Applications) for days 1-3.  This covers the NetScaler Application Firewall web-app security feature and other security focused policy-based features such as HTTP Callouts, IP Rate Limiting,  IP Reputation, and App QoE.  This particular content requires a good grasp on load balancing and NetScaler policy engine concepts as the web app security concepts of the Application Firewall are explored.


CNS-319 (Management and Optimization) for Days 4-5.  The second part of the course focuses on advanced management and monitoring using NetScaler MAS for management and analytics capabilities.  Additional topics covered in this section include NetScaler Web Server Logging, web site optimizations using Integrated Caching and Frent-End Optimization (FEO), along with additional HTTP/networking tuning and optimization concepts.


Who is this NetScaler training class for?  Anyone who already has experience with NetScaler Load Balancing and wants to configure the Application Firewall and other advanced policies to provide added security and optimization to web applications.  Anyone who is also interested in using NetScaler MAS for management, monitoring, and analytics (AppFlow) integration.


Who is this class NOT for?  Anyone who is NEW to NetScaler and doesn’t yet understand NetScaler setup, load balancing or policies. Technically, either the CNS-220 or CNS-222 could be pre-requisites for this course, but most likely the CNS-220 is your best option.


While the App Firewall can be used with StoreFront load balancing, you are less likely to need this course if your primary use-case for NetScaler is for NetScaler Gateway and XenApp/XenDesktop integration only.


NOTE:  Prior to taking the CNS-320, you need to already understand NetScaler administration, load balancing, and policy-based concepts or have taken either the CNS-220 or CNS-222 courses beforehand.  Familiarity with the default policy engine, syntax, bind points, and priorities and familiarity with the responder and rewrite features in addition to load balancing is strongly recommended.



What If I Need Load Balancing and NetScaler Gateway? 

Or to put it another way, what if you need more than one class? 

This is where the modular nature of the class becomes convenient. If you need to manage NetScaler administration, load balancing, policy-based features, and the NetScaler Gateway, you now have a path to take the 7 distinct days of training you need without repeating the 3 days of overlapping content.


Depending on whether you want to focus on Load Balancing and Policy-driven features first or the NetScaler Gateway, would determine your optimal path.  See below: 

Option 1:  NetScaler Administration (CNS-220) first, followed by NetScaler Gateway (CNS-221) 

You can start with the CNS-220 (5-day course) and learn NetScaler Administration, Load Balancing, and Policies. Then take the CNS-221 (2-day course) content during an available week. Seven days of non-overlapping training.


This is preferred for admins who want a comprehensive view of Load Balancing and Policies before taking the NetScaler Gateway content.  

Option 2:  NetScaler Gateway (CNS-222) first, followed by NetScaler Traffic Management/Policies (CNS-219)

If you would rather dive-in and get started with NetScaler Administration and  NetScaler Gateway first, then start with the CNS-222 (5-day course).  Then you can take the CNS-219 (2-day course) when you are ready to tackle policies and enhance the load balancing capabilities.



What about the NetScaler Advanced Topics? 

In general, unless you already know load balancing and policies, you will take one of the other courses or combinations first.


However, you should always take the CNS-220 course first or have equivalent experience.


For students who only need Application Firewall and related security features, you can take the CNS-318 only (3 days).  For students who only want information on NetScaler MAS and the optimization features, then the CNS-319 (2 days) are available as separate scheduling options.


NOTE:  About course descriptions:  This information is current as of June 2017.  The training recommendations will be updated in the event the curriculum changes.


What If I still don’t know which NetScaler training course to take? 

Here’s a decision tree: 

  • I need to know how to configure NetScaler for ICA Proxy and integration with XenApp/XenDesktop.  I may be doing minimal load balancing or StoreFront and XenApp/XenDesktop components. Take: CNS-222. 
  • I need to know configure a NetScaler from scratch and setup load balancing for one or more corporate web sites and other functions: Take: CNS-220. 
  • I need to manage a NetScaler for a wide range of features from load balancing, advanced load balancing, and some NetScaler Gateway support: Take: CNS-220 (first) + CNS-221 (second). 
  • I was just told I have to get the NetScaler Gateway running immediately:
    Take: CNS-222 (first) + CNS-219 (second). 
  • I am already well-versed in load balancing and need to deal web app security:
    Take: CNS-320. 

Still not, sure?  Ask someone at Layer 8 to help you out.  Our goal is to get you into the right NetScaler training class on day 1, so you are happy with your choice. Anything we missed? Please let us know in the comments, or send us an email.