This is a guest blog post. Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Graham Brown, Network Support Engineer at Imtech ICT Limited. These views are his own and in no way do they represent the views of the company he works for.
My first true networking role was a familiar one to many; configuring and supporting Cisco routers as part of a managed service. Working in a Cisco house, I was encouraged to embrace the Cisco way of doing things and in turn, became certified as – CCNA, CCDA, BSCI, BCMSN etc.
I later found myself managing a network based around Foundry Networks switches and within this role I made a pivotal decision for my career – deploy new switches for the network. The existing switches were ageing and performance was quite poor. So, I evaluated what was on offer from other vendors including Foundry (now Brocade), Cisco and Juniper Networks, then picked the best for our scenario, which was Juniper Networks. The EX platform brought the benefits of the virtual chassis technology, enabling ease of management, redundant power supplies and the carrier class background in terms of reliability and support.
So, this is where my Juniper journey began with the EX platform – I now needed to become JNCIA certified! The transition to JNCIA (and Juniper in general) was quite straightforward. After all, I already knew the routing and switching fundamentals so all I had to do was become familiar with Junos.
Juniper and Cisco certification tracks are quite similar, they both have associate, professional and expert levels; although Juniper also does a specialist level, nestled between the associate and professional. Only the expert level for both companies is now lab based – the old Juniper professional was an 8-hour lab!
With Juniper you have a base foundation exam – the JNCIA-Junos. This exam covers many aspects of running a Junos device and leveraging its powerful features. In addition there are the usual IP subnetting, routing, switching and firewall questions that you would expect from a technical exam. After just a few days of hands-on and the trusty JUNOS for Dummies book, everything was falling into place and becoming familiar to me. If you are looking to take the Junos exam, I would suggest this book as an overall base guide and you will find everything else that you require from the Juniper Fast Track site. I have always self-taught myself and Juniper provides all of the material you need to achieve the certification.
If you are unfamiliar to Junos, as I once was you can find a wealth of information on the Juniper Fast Track site. This is dedicated to teach both new and experienced engineers how to get the most out of their Juniper equipment and become certified on one of three tracks – Enterprise, Service Provider or Security. In addition to the Fast Track program, there are great discussion groups on the Juniper forums, LinkedIn and Twitter, all full of people passionate about Juniper and Junos. There are even Day One books for deploying certain features within Junos, to aid engineers to ‘hit the ground running’. These have been written by engineers with real life deployment knowledge and are a fantastic resource.
Next steps; I will decide which track to focus on once I’ve passed all three specialist level exams. My next certification will be the JNCIS-SEC, utilising the Junos Security book, followed by the JNCIS-ENT and then the JNCIS-SP. You may be wondering why I am taking all three Specialist exams, rather than concentrating on a single track. This is because I wish to have a sound understand of all aspects of the tracks and to have a broader knowledge base before I specialise on one particular area. The good news is that all Juniper certifications are only one exam (or one lab) – so you get instant recognition back for the effort you put in. After getting involved with Juniper products and certifications, you’ll soon realise why fellow engineers love this equipment.
If anyone has any questions about making the transition from Cisco to Juniper or IOS to Junos, ask away. Or if you’ve a similar change, let me know your thoughts – I’m sure you’ll agree that you did the right thing!