Contrary to what some might think, Cisco is not the only player in the networking arena. Although I have been Cisco certified for many years at this point, sometimes new opportunities present themselves that you need to take a look. I had been made aware of the Juniper certification process a couple of years ago but didn’t have a compelling reason to pick up this certification when I didn’t have any clients that were using. Now that I have a reason to look at this certification, I am taking another look.
For those with a previous networking background, the Fast Track Certification Program is worth investigating. You will need to create a login account to get started. Since I don’t have a Juniper certification at this point, I will start with the JNCIA-Junos track. The first step is to go through a JNCIA-Junos Networking Fundamentals web-based training package. This is supposed to take about 5 hours. From what I have gone through so far, it will be partly review as it covers networking subjects you should already be familiar with. Where this will help you is going over the differences between how you enter things in IOS and what Juniper expects to be entered when making configuration changes in the Olive operating system. I will post another entry once I have been able to go through all of the web training package.
Once you are finished with that, the next step is to download two study guides in PDF form. This is where having an iPad comes in handy for me. After transferring the pdf’s to the GoodReader, I can read them whenever and wherever I want, being able to highlight/markup the documents to remind me of certain points as I reread the documents during the studying process. There are other ways you can work with the PDF’s but this is a system that has worked well for me in the past.
As a parallel part of this process, I wanted to start getting some hands on experience with the Juniper Olive OS. I went through the Juniper Education forums at www.juniper.net. As with Cisco, there are two paths – hardware and virtual. I posed this question in the forums to see what had worked well for others. Being new to Juniper, I was leaning towards physical hardware because I also want to test interoperability between Juniper and Cisco equipment which is something that I expect to run into soon. The response I got back confirmed that getting physical hardware was the suggested path. It was suggested that I look at the SRX-100H device as it would allow for the most flexibility on a budget for the JNCIA associate certification. For those, like me, that are new to Juniper, there is an important distinction that needs to be made for this device. When searching eBay or other sites, you will see reference to a B or H models. The difference between these is that the H model has maximum memory installed and can run the latest version of the Junos OS. For those of you that have a background in Linux, you will see some things that are familiar. This is due to the Junos kernel being based on FreeBSD Unix. If I had been dealing with Cisco hardware, I would have gone for the lesser expensive hardware option and upgraded the memory on my own. Since I am unfamiliar with the Juniper hardware, I decided to go with the more conservative approach and get the memory pre-installed. I managed to find an almost new SRX-100H Services Gateway unit that had been used for a brief demo and then wasnt needed anymore. Depending on how I continue with the Juniper certification program, I may add additional hardware as time and money allows.
Once I get into the training materials a little more, I will spend some time to see when I will find when virtualizing the Juniper OS within GNS3. When travelling, having GNS3 as an option will allow you to continue studying without having the hardware with you, setting up remote access to your gear at home or finding a rack rental company that has Juniper gear installed. More on this as the series continue.