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Crossing Over to Juniper

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Imagine this: you get to work one day and a shipment of Juniper switches is sitting on your desk. Surely, this must be a mistake, you think. You don’t know Juniper!

The manager walks in and confirms that there’s no mistake. Your company has started rolling out Juniper equipment to replace those aging Cisco switches and you have been tasked with maintaining the new boxes.

Don’t panic, brave network warrior, for help is at hand.

Today, we’re going to jump into some handy tips on how to transition into a Juniper role, especially for those with CCNA or similar networking experience.

Take stock of existing skills

From the 7-Layer OSI Model to the principles of TCP/IP networking, it’s more than likely that you already have the basic knowledge you need to wrestle with a Juniper switch or router.

After all, it’s not new technology we’re talking about. The internet works because the networks behind it share common communication protocols, several of which are decades old, like IPv4. And the same goes for enterprise or datacenter networking.

While it might sound scary to learn a new way of doing things in a hurry, learning “the Juniper way” will be a great opportunity to refresh your memory on networking principles you may have struggled with the first time around.

As long as you have a good grasp on vendor-neutral networking protocols and basics like IP addressing and subnetting, you can consider yourself halfway certified to work with Juniper!

Your First Juniper Lab

What fun is learning without a lab? If you’re strapped for cash or can’t find a suitable second-hand switch to practice on, the network simulator GNS3 allows easy emulation of Juniper routers inside a virtual environment. If you’re coming from a Cisco point of view, GNS3 is similar to Cisco’s Packet Tracer simulation tool.

For instance, to pull off a Juniper GNS3 lab, you’ll first need to get your hands on a signed Junos OS image from Juniper’s support site, as well as a copy of FreeBSD since Junos runs on the FreeBSD kernel.

Then you’ll want to fire up either VMware Workstation, VirtualBox, or Qemu and hack it all together. Tutorials on how to manage this are a dime a dozen online.

Anthony will be outlining how to build a number of Juniper labs with relative ease and little expense. Register for the webinar here.

The Juniper Way of Thinking

If you’re already a master at Cisco’s IOS CLI, you’re at a clear advantage for learning the Junos CLI. You can think of learning Junos as a second language that corresponds to the one you already know, with slightly different grammar and syntax rules.

In fact, the Juniper Learning Portal has a crash course entitled, “Junos as a Second Language”, specially aimed at those crossing over from IOS to Junos. This introductory course covers the fundamentals of the Junos workflow without overloading you with newb-level networking non-essentials.

With Junos, CLI scripting is simple for anyone with basic FreeBSD/Unix experience. Junos also is REST API-friendly, enabling you to easily connect to your Juniper devices and configure them using RESTful techniques. For the Python fans, Junos can be scripted and automated with a Python library called PyEZ, which uses Junos’ API support.

Certification Tracks

Once you’ve proven your skill working with Juniper at some level, you’ll want to go for an official Juniper certification. Besides making you better at what you do, becoming certified as a Juniper specialist can open up many doors for a network engineer or administrator.

Juniper routers and switches are primarily found humming along in the service provider environment. However, enterprise networks and data centers are becoming increasingly familiar with Juniper hardware as well.

Here are four Juniper certifications worth looking into:

  1. JNCIA-Junos (entry-level)
  2. JNCIS-ENT (Enterprise Routing and Switching Specialist)
  3. JNCIS-SP (Service Provider Routing and Switching Specialist)
  4. JNCIS-SEC (Security Specialist)

Where to Go from Here?

The next best step, you ask? Training. If you don’t have the opportunity to pick up Juniper by learning on the job, we’ve got you covered with training to help you along these certification paths:

  1. JNCIA-Junos
  2. JNCIS-ENT
  3. JNCIS-SEC

See all of our Juniper courses!

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