Is the JNCIA-DevOps Worth It?
| technology | networking - Richard Bevis

Is the JNCIA-DevOps Worth It?

DevOps is popular right now with enterprise IT executives. It's an approach that promises to help them deploy, manage, and update applications more quickly, with fewer problems, and at a lower overall cost.

The DevOps process relies on the close collaboration of the software development and infrastructure operations teams, combined with techniques and tools such as scripting and workflow automation. Although there are significant benefits to be gained from a DevOps approach, it's not a slam-dunk! Employers need to have trained teams—developers, engineers, admins, and testers—to make it work! And that spells "certification and opportunity!"

As we've said before, DevOps is a great career opportunity. The leading cloud services — AWS, Google, and Microsoft — have DevOps engineer certifications, as do vendors such as Cisco and Juniper Networks. While not having the largest market presence, Juniper Networks does have a vigorous and loyal customer base and its products are frequently found installed alongside those of Cisco, HP, Arista, and others. We're going to take a look at Juniper's JNCIA-DevOps certification.

What is the JNCIA-DevOps?

The JNCIA-DevOps is the associate-level certification of the Automation and DevOps Track in Juniper Networks' Certification Program. The cert validates the holder's expertise at using scripting tools and languages to automate devices and networks that operate with the Juniper Network Junos operating system.

The JNCIA is a cert for networking and admin professionals who have an introductory-level knowledge of automation tools and best practices. It is a prerequisite to the specialist-level JNCIS-DevOps. Once you have certified, your JNCIA-DevOps cert is valid for three years, at which point you can recertify by passing any JNCIA exam or a specialist-level exam.

What Does the JNCIA-DevOps Exam Test?

The JNCIA-DevOps exam (JN0-221) is administered by Pearson VUE. It's a 90-minute test, with 65 multiple-choice questions. You'll know your score and whether you passed immediately after the exam.

JN0-221 exam questions are grouped in the following sections:

  • Junos Automation Stack and DevOps Concepts. Testing your understanding of the concepts and features of Junos automation —tools, frameworks, and APIs — as well as DevOps culture, practices, and tools.
  • XML/NETCONF. Assessing your ability to describe concepts, syntax, and functionality of XML, the XML API, XPath, and the NETCONF network management protocol.
  • Data Serialization. Testing your understanding of the concepts, benefits, and operation of data serialization, including the YAML data serialization language and the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).
  • Ansible. Testing your understanding of the use of Juniper Junos Ansible modules to automate Junos tasks for software provisioning, configuration management, and app deployment.
  • Python/PyEz. Assessing your understanding of how the Python programming language and the Junos PyEZ framework are used to configure, manage and automate devices running Junos.
  • REST API. Testing your grasp of the concepts, benefits, and operation of the Junos REST API, including configuring the API, using the REST API Explorer, and using the cURL command-line tool to access the API.

How Much Does the JNCIA-DevOps Exam Cost?

The JNCIA-DevOps certification exam (JN0-221) costs $200.

What Experience Do You Need for the JNCIA-DevOps?

The JNCIA-DevOps is an associate certification and is intended for entry-level admin and networking professionals with at least one year's experience and who have a basic understanding of Junos automation tools and best practices. That said, the cert is also of value to experienced network admins and engineers who want to validate their skills in the Juniper Networks world.

If you'd like to see how you'd stack up, then you could try a JNCIA-DevOps practice test that's available on the Juniper Learning Portal. If you need to brush up before you attempt the new (JN0-221) JNCIA-DevOps exam, you could try our CBT Nuggets JNCIA-DevOps online training. It's keyed to the old JN0-220 edition, but you'll still find lots of value in it as a training resource.

Who Should Take the JNCIA-DevOps?

While the JNCIA-DevOps certification is for beginner networking professionals who want to validate their Juniper Networks DevOps credentials, the cert may also be of interest to experienced network professionals. Network professionals who hold certs for other network vendors might well see the JNCIA-DevOps as an easy way to add Juniper to their Cisco, or other vendor certs.

Let's take a look at a couple of the job categories that you'll find requiring JNCIAA-DevOps certification.

JNCIA-DevOps for DevOps Engineers

DevOps engineers create and carry-out build, release, configuration, and deployment activities for their organization's systems and applications. They do this in partnership with other members of the development and operations team. Enterprises will look for DevOps engineers who are proficient in developing the code needed to automate and orchestrate the deployment and management of network devices. They'll want their professionals, or consultants from services providers, to be DevOps-certified with the appropriate technologies. Most organizations will use a mix of technology components — both cloud- and premises-based — in their networks.

If you are a beginning system or network admin/engineer in a Juniper Networks environment and you want to get on the DevOps path, then the JNCIA-DevOps certification is a great option to pursue. The cert will demonstrate to your management that you have the enthusiasm, initiative, and know-how to be a DevOps contributor.

Alternatively, perhaps you are an experienced DevOps engineer. Perhaps you have already certified with Cisco, AWS, or another technology — then the JNCIA-DevOps is a great way to add Juniper to your portfolio.

JNCIA-DevOps for Network Automation Engineers

Network automation engineers are tasked with improving network processes and implementing automation processes and support for their organization's network. Typically, these roles are for experienced professionals, with at least five years in network engineering.

As a network automation engineer, you'll be expected to use scripting tools to automate network provisioning, updating, and troubleshooting. Your goals will be to reduce deployment time, improve reliability, and accelerate the identification and resolution of network issues.

Management will expect you to be certified as proficient with tools including Python, Ansible, and NETCONF, as well as data manipulation tools and techniques such as YAML, JSON, and SQL.  While you could shoot for one of the heavy-hitter certs like the Cisco Certified DevNet Specialist – DevOps or the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional, you'll find that the JNCIA-DevOps is a good first step!

Of course, it will help if you'll be working with Juniper Networks devices! But even then, you'll need to get the Associate-level cert before you can try for the specialist-level Automation and DevOps, Specialist (JNCIS-DevOps).

Remember that the tools are relevant to Cisco, AWS, Azure, and most other cloud- and premise-based networks. As the proud holder of the JNCIA-DevOps, you'll be able to demonstrate your familiarity with these key automation enablers.

Is the JNCIA-DevOps Worth It?

While the JNCIA-DevOps is an established automation and DevOps certification, it's fair to say that demand is not as widespread as for equivalent Cisco and AWS certifications. However, if you work or intend to work in a DevOps environment that includes Juniper Networks devices, then this cert is a definite first step.

There are two main reasons why you should consider going for the JNCIA-DevOps cert—first as a way to learn skills, and then as a way to separate yourself from the pack! Both reasons apply equally to working for an end-user enterprise, or a services/integration firm that uses certifications as proof of their technical expertise.

Using JNCIA-DevOps to Learn Skills

You're a junior sysadmin or network administrator with Juniper Networks devices and you'd like to get a spot on a DevOps team. Studying for the JNCIA-DevOps is an excellent way to develop the skills that you'll need. You could try our JNCIA-DevOps online training. Although it's based on the old JN0-220 cert exam, it's still a valuable training resource. Before that, however, why don't you check out our Demystifying DevOps webinar to get a solid grounding in DevOps principles.

Finish those and you'll be ready for the certification exam. Earn your JNCIA-DevOps and go and see your manager! Tell her about your goal to join the DevOps team. Ask for additional opportunities to develop, perhaps with a training plan to prepare you for the specialist-level JNCIS-DevOps.

Using JNCIA-DevOps to Validate Skills

So you are already part of a DevOps team as a sysadmin or network admin working on a network that includes Juniper devices! You would like to validate your skills and position yourself with executive management! If so, then the JNCIA-DevOps cert is a good starting point. From there, you can go for the Juniper's specialist-level JNCIA-DevOps cert and then on to advanced DevOps certs such as those from Cisco, AWS, Azure, or others.

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