Juniper World – The Best Place to Start with Chris Jones (JNCIE-ENT)

by Mirek Burnejko

Chris Jones JNCIE-ENTThis is an interview with Chris Jones. Chris is JNCIE-ENT #272 and CCIE #25655 (R&S).

Chris is amazing engineer and also a person who love Junos. In this interview we will try to answer few questions:

  • Is JNCIE harder to pass than CCIE?
  • Where you should start with Juniper?
  • Why IT certifications without an experience aren’t the best solution?


IT Certification Master: Hello Chris, It is a pleasure to have you here. Tell us where you work
right now and what was your first IT job?

Chris Jones: Thanks, glad to be here! I’m currently a Senior Consultant, Technology Services for Accuvant Inc., a large and well respected information security firm. My first IT job was the network administrator for Barrie Metals, a large electronics recycling facility in Ontario Canada.

ICM: I know you as one of the biggest fan of Juniper. I also know that you have the highest Juniper certification JNCIE. Why Juniper and why JNCIE?

CJ: I do love Juniper, but more specifically I love Junos. I’m a firm believer in the best tool for the job, and Junos is a nice breath of fresh air in a world of IOS and its clones. The JNCIE was just a logical progression once I refocused my career towards Juniper.

ICM: Do your clients require from you Juniper certifications or maybe they know that you’re the right guy?

CJ: My clients are often told that I am a CCIE and JNCIE when the sales team is pitching my services to complete a project. I’m not sure that either is required by the client, but I would guess that it gives them confidence in me before I arrive on-site.

ICM: You also have a CCIE certification? Which one (CCIE or JNICE) gives you more benefits?

CJ: At this point, the CCIE is more beneficial in my career, simply because it’s better recognized throughout the industry. It’s been around for a long time. The JNCIE is gaining traction though, and becoming more and more coveted.

ICM: Which one was harder to get?

CJ: I get asked this a lot. The truth is, they are both difficult in their own way. The CCIE tests a lot of in-depth protocol knowledge by asking you to complete tasks that are unrealistic, but show that you understand the protocols inside and out. You have 8 hours to complete the exam, and often you will have 2-3 hours left once you are finished to be able to verify and troubleshoot if necessary.

On the other hand, the JNCIE is very practical. I would estimate that 95% of the JNCIE lab exam is very much real-world. The kind of thing you’ve likely done in production before. No “stupid router tricks”. It’s also a very long exam. If you manage to complete it in the 8 hours allocated, you’ve done well. There is little time for troubleshooting, so you had better make sure you have studied well because there is no room for mistakes.

It’s difficult to say which of these approaches is actually more difficult, but I can say without a doubt that I’m far more proud of my JNCIE.

ICM: Let’s imagine that’s I’m an hungry, young network guy, who wants to start with the Juniper world? Where should I start?

CJ: Juniper’s Fasttrack program is the first place to go. They offer free educational materials for the JNCIA and JNCIS in the Enterprise Routing & Switching and Security tracks. They also have discounted exam vouchers available there. I would also recommend the e-course “Junos as a Second Language”, which is a bit outdated but still very relevant. Of course you should also check out the Junos books published by O’Reilly and also the shorter easy-to-digest Day One books published by Juniper. Those are free also, and a great resource!

ICM: What do you think about certifications without experience and how to find a solution where employers do not want to hire people without certifications?

CJ: Certifications with no experience are largely meaningless. It’s better to have experience and no certifications, than the other way around. Certifications don’t teach you real-world lessons and “gotchas”. This stuff is essential, and book knowledge is no replacement.

ICM: What is the best way to start in networking world? JNCIA, CCNA or maybe other place?

CJ: The CCNA is the place to start, no question. The JNCIA assumes you already know what an IP address is, and how a router or switch functions. The JNCIA doesn’t cover networking theory basics. The CCNA covers everything from the ground up. To be honest, I think I would recommend a candidate to be at a CCNP level before even attempting the JNCIA.

I would expect that the JNCIA will eventually evolve and no longer have this “dependency” on Cisco certifications.

ICM: What are your certification plans for 2012/2013?

CJ: My next certification goal is the JNCIE-SP. I need to first pass the JNCIS-SP and JNCIP-SP, but the JNCIE-SP is my goal for 2012. I plan to study for the CCIE-SP fairly soon after, while the material is still fresh.

ICM: Thank you so much Chris for these amazing answers. Tell us, what is the best place to find you

CJ: You can find my blog at 3Fives and feel free to follow my Twitter account at @IPv6Freely. My Twitter is a mix of personal and professional, so be warned! 😉

[This is part of the Interviews with IT Pros Series]