Training, Certifications and Extensive Work Experience Is What Makes The Expert – with Jörg Buesink

by Mirek Burnejko

Jörg BuesinkThis is an interview with Jörg Buesink. Jörg is 3xCCIE, CCDE, 3xJNCIE, JNCIE proctor, JNCIE instructor and network consultant. Let’s find out how it’s possible.

In this interview you will find:

  • Why Jörg decided to pass multiple CCIE and JNCIE certifications?
  • Are Juniper certifications a good place to start?
  • Is it possible to become an expert without certifications?

Mirek Burnejko: Hello Jörg. It’s a big pleasure to have you here. Please tell us something about you. Where do you work right now?

Jörg Buesink: Thank you for your invitation and having me here. I work for iNET ZERO a company that offers certification preparation materials for all JNCIE exam tracks. iNET ZERO is affiliated with Twine Networks, a Juniper Networks Authorized Education Partner that provides certified training and professional services. Together we are able to provide prescriptive learning solutions. Besides being very active in the IT training industry I also do a lot of professional services work for several service providers and enterprise customers in the Netherlands.

MB: Tell about your beginnings in the IT industry.

JB: One of my first jobs in the IT industry was for a telecom company called McCOMM International. A good friend of me who was also working for this company arranged this job for me. I did not know that much about the telecom world when I started, so there was lot of stuff to learn. I was responsible for the implementation and maintenance of several call platforms and gained a lot of experience with Unix system, databases and telecom switching (ISDN, E1/T1, etc). For this job I travelled a lot through Europe and visited several customers, each having different designs and requirements. It was a great job and I learned a lot.

MB: What was your first IT certification?

JB: The HP-UX certified IT professional. I worked with HP-UX systems, did a lot of system administration and followed several HP-UX courses. It was a good way to verify my knowledge.

MB: What was your first expert-level certification and why you decided to achieve it?

JB: My first expert level certification was the CCIE Routing and Switching. After many years of design and implementation experience and holding several Cisco certifications like CCNA and CCNP I thought it was time to challenge myself and take the CCIE exam. My primary reasons where to learn a lot more about networking and also to give my career a boost.

MB: Today you are a CCDE, 3xCCIE and 3xJNCIE. Why these certifications are important for you? Isn’t one CCIE or JNCIE enough?

JB: In 2005 I worked for several large service providers and enterprise customers in the role of network designer or network architect. I mainly did LAN and WAN designs and implementations. Most of these companies had multiple vendors in their networks like Cisco and Juniper. I was already CCIE certified, but did not knew Juniper that well. I felt it was necessary to also become an expert on Juniper Networks equipment and obtained the JNCIE M/T (JNCIE-SP) and JNCIE-ER (JNCIE-ENT) certifications. Doing more security projects it seemed a logical step for me to also obtain the CCIE SEC and the JNCIE-SEC. So perhaps not really needed, as one JNCIE or CCIE is usually more then enough, in my case it just turned out this way.

MB: The most interesting (for me) is your work as a JNCIE lab exam proctor for Juniper Networks. What is your main responsibility?

JNCIEJB: My primary task is to ensure JNCIE candidates have a great and fair test experience. The JNCIE is a very prestigious and difficult certification to obtain. Most candidates study for months before attempting the 8-hour lab exam. It takes them a lot of time and effort to obtain this certification. I took the JNCIE lab exams myself so I understand the pressure and stress candidates might have. I take this experience with me while proctoring. On the exam day I ensure that all exam racks are initialized and welcome the candidates in and give them an introduction, tell them the dos and don’ts during the exam and try to make them feel comfortable. The rest of the day I am available to answer questions candidates might have and also grade the exams of previous candidates.

MB: What is your recommendation to people who work only with Cisco technologies? Is it a good idea to learn about Juniper without hands-on experience?

JB: It sure is possible to learn Juniper without hands-on experience. At least for the entry-level it is. Already holding a similar Cisco or other vendor certification will help you to go faster through the Juniper curriculum and vice versa. Personally I always recommend hands-on experience. As an example: it is great to read and learn “BGP Origin validation” from a book, but you might understand and grasp the concept better if you also have the opportunity to configure the technology and perform some show commands.

MB: Are Juniper certifications a good place to start?

JB: Given Juniper Networks market penetration these days it’s very likely you will run into devices running JUNOS™. Juniper Networks has a very mature and well-respected certification program. I definitely think being Juniper Networks certified is a good investment and a must have these days for all-round network designers and engineers.

MB: Is it possible (these days) to become an expert and a senior engineer without certifications?

JB: Of course this is possible. I know a lot of excellent engineers, designers and architects who did not obtain an expert level certification and still are experts in my opinion. It just might take them more time to be recognized as an “expert” within the industry or by (future) employers. IT certifications in general will definitely accelerate your career and is a way to show you are at a certain knowledge level.

In my opinion continuous training, certifications and extensive work experience is what makes the expert.

MB: What are your goals for the future? Another CCIE, CCAr or maybe other vendors (Brocade or Huawei)?

JB: In this industry it is a must to ensure your knowledge is up to date. Furthermore I am always excited to learn new things. So yes I am sure I will pursue another certification or study in the near future. Will it be another expert level exam? I do not know. I also have to recertify them all. What most people do not realize is that each couple of months I receive an email stating, “your certification is about to expire”.

Obtaining seven expert level certifications is one thing, but staying certified has also become a battle on it’s own.

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