Welcome to Meet the Instructor, a series where we meet the extremely talented and knowledgeable Citrix Certified Instructors (CCIs) that teach and interact with Citrix Education students every day. Today we’re meeting long-time CCI Melvin Porter of Dimension Data Learning Solutions.

Where do you live?

I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa – the world’s most beautiful city – but am currently living in the world’s most livable city – Melbourne, Australia.

How did you start your career working with Citrix technologies?

I was first exposed to Citrix around the time of MetaFrame 1.8 (late 1990’s), but I then got more heavily involved with Metaframe XP and later versions.  This initial exposure was while I was actually a Biology / Chemistry/Mathematics teacher, but also looked after the infrastructure of a high/senior school so I was an IT admin as well.

I fell into the IT role by accident. In one of my first teaching roles, I was asked by a senior staff member what I knew about Windows NT. I replied, “Windows NT Server? Or Windows NT Workstation? NT 3.51? Or the soon to be released NT 4.0?” Apparently knowing something, albeit very little at the time, about NT made me qualified me to be the admin, because that’s when they asked me to look after the school network!

What’s your favorite course to teach and why?

I have always enjoyed teaching the XenApp courses and now the XenApp & XenDesktop courses. These courses are often the ones where people may be exposed to Citrix for the first time.  As an instructor I get to see their eyes light up when they realise the power and potential of Citrix as a solution for their environment. Light bulb moments are my favourite!

My favourite class experience is where the lab doesn’t quite work for a student. When things don’t work perfectly is when you really get to learn and discover even more. Not only do you get to teach the product but you also get to explore troubleshooting methodologies – something you need every day!

What advice would you give to an IT professional who is considering a Citrix Education class?

Go into the class with an open mind, and be prepared to change how you do things. Very often IT professionals teach themselves how to complete day-to-day tasks – this is an excellent way to learn but unfortunately you may unwittingly be doing things incorrectly or not according to best practises.

Your instructor is there to guide you and demonstrate the capabilities of the product. It is up to you to take that knowledge and apply it. Encourage the powers that be to send staff on courses sooner rather than later – you will see the benefit in the long term.

What’s your favorite memory from teaching a class?

I was teaching a Citrix Presentation Server 3.0 course to a full class, and during the introductions a student introduced himself as follows:

“G’day – I am {insert name here}, I am from {insert company here}, I have been sent on this course by my manager, I don’t know why. I hate Citrix, it is a rubbish product and I don’t want to be here this week.”

The class fell silent, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Some people laughed, others cringed awkwardly. In an upbeat voice I responded: “Well, we are going to have to change that perception and show you what Citrix really can do. You’ll be amazed.” He was unimpressed and brushed me off, and I felt like an uninvited guest at a small dinner party.  At that moment, I would have preferred to be anywhere else but there!

As the day progressed and he was completing the labs, I overheard something along the lines of “Pffft ! – never seen that feature work before”. He realised what he had done wrong in his production network – Ding! Ding! Ding! – light bulb moment.  As the week progressed I heard more and more of those kind of comments. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding ! His demeanour changed and by the end of the week he was really into it. At the end of the week, he thanked me personally after everyone had left. He admitted to learning a lot and enjoying the product. As time went by I noticed he was popping up more and more in all the Citrix classes. He calls himself the Citrix evangelist at work now. Love it!

What’s your hidden talent?

Dad jokes – Nothing like a good Dad joke!  I see it as a talent, my kids see it as a curse. I try to mix them with IT at the same time. For example, I have a great UDP joke – but I’m not sure you will get it! There is the NTP joke but that one is really difficult because your timing has to be just right!

If a student has never taken a course with you, what will they be most surprised by when then get in the classroom with you?

I tend to teaching with a lot of analogies – it is something that is often mentioned in the course evaluations. I find something that students can relate to easily and then tie that in with the concept that I am trying to get across.

I have even explained Load Balancing in XenApp by drawing analogies to jumping on and off a tram (a familiar sight in Melbourne). If you jump onto a tram and then you notice an emptier tram behind you… well, you jump off the tram and get onto the empty one. Same thing with load balancing in XenApp – If there is a less loaded server that becomes available after your session has launched, you have to log off and log on again to get the least loaded server.

How should someone get in touch if they want to take a class with you?:

I am a full time instructor at Dimension Data Learning Solutions (DDLS) http://www.ddls.com.au– we have branches all over Australia. DDLS has a great blog as well, https://www.ddls.com.au/blog – heaps of useful info there.  DDLS has two instructors who have been awarded “CCI of the year” awards, both myself and my good friend and colleague, Terry Griffin. DDLS has also won the Citrix Authorised Learning Centre (CALC) of the Year Award many times. We do regular Instructor led training as well as virtual instructor led training via telepresence. We would love to see you on a course. We would also love to hear from you if we have taught you in the past. Maybe it is time for another course?

Feel free to reach out to me about training, my email address is melvin.porter@ddls.com.au

You can also find Melvin on LinkedIn

Previous Meet the Instructor Posts:

Mauricio Schäpers
Justin Apsley