Juniper Networks (Juniper) is a 20-year-old American multinational based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Juniper specializes in networking products. For years, Juniper has been an established player in the networking market successfully competing with corporate giants like Cisco, Alcatel Lucent, Broadcom and others.
Juniper's product line includes all things associated with networking: routers, switches, wireless network devices, network firewalls, and network monitoring, and software-defined networking technologies. Since its foundation in 1996, customers have come to trust Juniper products for their stability and reliability in network infrastructure.
Juniper is continuously improving its existing products while developing and promoting new software-defined networking products. So widespread are the company's products, and so steady its reputation, that it is almost impossible to find a networking professional who doesn't know and appreciate Juniper.
Outstanding it its field
What makes Juniper distinctive in the IT networking space, and how does the company sustain its leading position in market? In the beginning, Juniper succeeded in promoting its edge and core routing devices for service providers. Such a focused product strategy allowed Juniper to become the vendor of choice for customers, including telecom operators, Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other medium-to-large enterprises.
Following this strategy, Juniper substantially grew its revenue. Faced with a competitive and innovative market, however, Juniper aggressively developed and expanded its product line to other domains like data centers and enterprise networks. This required a heavy investment in the research and development of products such Ethernet access switches, IT security, network virtualization and QFabric switching.
Juniper's strong market presence has been made possible and supported by an emphasis on three core characteristics: reliable network devices, skilled after-sales technical support, and strong training and certification programs.
The reliability of Juniper's devices places it at the top of list when customers choose their networking devices. Reliable networking devices ensure high availability — the Holy Grail of the networking industry.
The after-sales technical support provided by Juniper Technical Assistance Center (JTAC) is the second pillar of the company's success. Service is always the backbone for customers when they need help operating Juniper devices or when something goes wrong. Customer confidence that there is a strong technical support and backup is a key competitive advantage for Juniper.
Finally, the availability of training and certification programs helps Juniper partners and customers to gain the required knowledge to design, implement, operate, and troubleshoot network infrastructure built by Juniper's devices and to integrate them with devices and components from other vendors.
Juniper offers certification programs for network engineers that are widely recognized and valued in the IT industry. The certifications are mix of written materials as well as hands-on labs designed to enrich both the technical knowledge and actual experience of a certification candidate.
An important value of Juniper Networks certification is that, in addition to covering Juniper products and technologies, the credentials also cover other vendor-neutral networking technologies. This is a significant advantage for Juniper trained network engineers as it enables them to manage different network infrastructures based on the wide array of networking devices on the market today.
Juniper slots its certifications into four major categories or tracks:
Multiple Junos Tracks covering Data Center, Service Provider Routing and Switching, Enterprise Routing and Switching and Junos Security.
Junos Support Tracks covering support of and troubleshooting on Juniper network devices.
Product and Technology Tracks that deal with specific Juniper products such as Firewall/VPN or Juniper technology such as QFabric.
Design Tracks covering for designing Juniper network infrastructure for Datacenters, WAN and Security.
Choosing the right track depends on career experience and objectives. For example, network design engineers would choose Design Tracks certifications to enrich their design capabilities, while support engineers who manage and troubleshoot network problems are more likely to benefit from Juniper Junos Support Tracks. The most widely requested Juniper certifications available today are:
Juniper Networks Certified Associate - Junos (JNCIA-Junos)
JNCIA-Junos is an entry-level certification suitable for network professionals who are new to networking or have little experience in the field. It covers basic routing and switching, network technologies, firewall filters and Junos OS operation and monitoring. This is an excellent choice for a credential as it's widely recognized in the IT industry.
JNCIA-Junos is the choice for many networking engineers to quickly get up to speed in the field and also to prepare for other advanced certifications. It's important because it's a prerequisite certification for a number of Specialist level certifications.
Juniper Networks Certified Design Associate (JNCDA)
JNCDA is another popular entry-level certificate within network design track. It covers a basic knowledge of networking concepts as well as design theory and best practices. Training walks students through the design process starting with collecting customer requirements of the network infrastructure, passing through physical and logical design consideration and finally positioning the right Juniper network devices in the network to produce the ultimate design.
JNCDA is an attractive choice for network engineers pursuing network design positions and it's a prerequisite for JNCDS certifications for Data Center, WAN and security tracks.
Juniper Networks Certified Support Professional (JNCSP-ENT)
JNCSP-ENT is a professional-level certificate intended for experienced network support engineers. This certificate falls into Juniper's Junos Support track, specifically Enterprise Routing & Switching Support. JNCSP-ENT is rich in knowledge covering troubleshooting general issues related to Junos devices.
JNCSP-ENT also has extensive coverage for monitoring the health of Junos device's software and hardware. With the adoption of Juniper enterprise routing and switching devices in today's medium-to-large datacenters, JNCSP-ENT certified network engineers are highly valued for their skills in managing such datacenters.
Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE-SP)
An expert-level certification, JNCIE-SP is at the top of the Service Provider Routing and Switching track. This is a prestigious certification because of its in-depth content coverage and the grueling 8-hour hands-on exam required to achieve it.
The service provider track is favorable to network engineers pursuing their JNCIE because of the wide adoption for Juniper network devices in service provider networks. JNCIE-SP is always at the top of the certification list for expert network engineers. While the journey of achieving it is tough, it pays off.