Is the JNCIE-Cloud Worth It?
| technology | networking - Ross Heintzkill

Is the JNCIE-Cloud Worth It?

Juniper Networks might not command the largest market share in the network routing technology world, but they do produce the hardware and software that make some of the world's most powerful networks possible. A Juniper network tends to be much more sprawling and complicated than most, and significantly more expensive. Fortunately, that usually means that the companies who are willing to pay the high price tag for a uniquely fast, efficient, stable and reliable network are usually also eager for expert administrators, engineers and technicians.

The JNCIE-Cloud is how an IT professional can prove that they're one of those experts. It's the pinnacle of cloud administration expertise in Juniper technologies and requires a ton of preparation, commitment and investment. Read on to learn whether or not earning the JNCIE-Cloud is worth it for you and your career.

What is the JNCIE-Cloud?

The JNCIE-Cloud is the fourth and final certification in Juniper's family of cloud-related certifications. The expert-level JNCIE-Cloud covers deploying, configuring, managing and troubleshooting cloud networks with Juniper technology. The JNCIE-Cloud is extremely specialized and covers the most advanced implementations of cloud infrastructures.

The JNCIE-Cloud focuses in particular on Juniper technologies for extending cloud functionality like Contrail Networking and Contrail Insights (formerly AppFormix). In addition to Juniper, passing the JNCIE-Cloud exam requires familiarity and comfort with technology from VMware, Kubernetes and OpenStack. The JNCIE-Cloud is a challenging certification to earn and the few cloud professionals who do end up earning it are at the cutting edge of building, maintaining and improving cloud architectures that meet the unique needs of their networks and companies.

Juniper developed their cloud certification track so that IT professionals could earn credentials that match their level of competence with cloud networking architectures like multiclouds, SDN, and SD-WAN. JNCIE-Cloud is the expert-level cert, the professional JNCIP, specialist JNCIS, and associate JNCIA certs come earlier in the track.

What Does the JNCIE-Cloud Exam Test?

Earning the JNCIE-Cloud requires passing the JPR-911. The JPR-911 is a 1-day, 6-hour, hands-on lab test. The practical exam runs you through a rigorous series of challenges in deploying, configuring, managing, and troubleshooting Juniper Networks' cloud networking tech. There are five JNCIE-Cloud exam objectives:

  • Orchestration
  • Fabric Automation using Contrail Command
  • Contrail Networking
  • Contrail Security
  • Monitory Analytics and Telemetry

Passing the JPR-911 requires expert-level proficiency with configuration tasks on top of theoretical knowledge. Each of those five exam objectives include detailed expectations about demonstrating advanced abilities in deploying and configuring networking technology. It won't be enough to know the theory behind cloud networks and their operation, passing the JNCIE-Cloud exam will require proving you're personally capable of handling every part of a Juniper cloud configuration.

How Much Does the JNCIE-Cloud Exam Cost?

The JNCIE-Cloud exam costs $1,600. In addition to that flat cost, the exam has to be taken in-person at a proctored location; there are many locations available, but you'll likely be traveling to take the exam. There are three Juniper certifications you'll have to earn before attempting the JNCIE-Cloud as well. The JNCIA costs $200, JNCIS costs $300 and JNCIP costs $400. That means the total cost of the JNCIE-Cloud is closer to $2,500 including travel, accommodations and whatever training or courses you enroll in beforehand.

What Experience Do You Need for the JNCIE-Cloud?

Besides having the certs that precede it, Juniper doesn't require any amount of time or experience before attempting the JNCIE-Cloud. However, the JNCIE-Cloud is designed to be an expert-level capstone, a finishing touch on a long career of administering and designing cloud network infrastructures with Juniper technologies. That means the experience you need before getting the JNCIE-Cloud includes the lessons and knowledge of many years of first-hand knowledge administering tons of different aspects of cloud networks.

Before you try the JNCIE-Cloud, you should feel deeply comfortable with cloud networking broadly as well as the specific use cases and cloud technologies Juniper manufactures. Juniper expects someone who earns their JNCIE-Cloud to have deep familiarity with building and administering Contrail Enterprise Multicloud architectures – a Juniper technology. But they also expect familiarity with configuring, monitoring and troubleshooting Kubernetes – especially where it integrates with Juniper solutions.

Similarly, you should know how to deploy applications and monitor performance in OpenStack and vCenter, two tools Juniper expects a cloud architect to use often in extending and orchestrating a cloud network. On top of all the technical implementations, you should also have a thorough understanding and experience with security policies inside Contrail before attempting the JNCIE-Cloud.

Who Should Take the JNCIE-Cloud?

Cloud professionals who are nearing the top of their career ladder should be thinking about the JNCIE-Cloud. The expert-level certification is a huge investment of time and money, but earning it places you squarely at the head of your career field and sets you up for the largest technical responsibilities in the cloud networking world.

Is JNCIE-Cloud Worth It for Cloud Architects?

If you work as a cloud architect or a cloud engineer, the JNCIE-Cloud is worth the time and cost of earning it. It does depend on a few things, though. The JNCIE-Cloud is worth it but only if you plan to continue working on Juniper networks and continue specializing in advanced cloud configurations and implementations.

The JNCIE-Cloud is highly specialized, both in the cloud technologies it applies to and the Juniper solutions it emphasizes. If you're uncertain about staying with Juniper or might move into Data Center administration, the JNCIE-Cloud might not be worth it for your career. But if you're looking for a credential that says you've mastered Juniper cloud tech, there's no better cert for your career than the JNCIE-Cloud.

Is JNCIE-Cloud Worth It for a Network Architect?

The JNCIE-Cloud might not be worth it for a network architect – it depends on whether you have other interests. The focus of the JNCIE-Cloud is specifically cloud-related configuration tasks around orchestration, multicloud, and virtual networking. Juniper also offers a series of certifications (most of which reach the same expert level) in Data Center administration, advanced network design, and enterprise routing and switching.

If one of those aspects of network architecture sounds more like what you're doing or what you're interested in doing, those certs would be me more worth it than the JNCIE-Cloud for you. However, there are plenty of network architects who'll find the JNCIE-Cloud worth it based on their specific job responsibilities.

Is JNCIE-Cloud Worth It for Cloud Administrators?

If you're a few years into your job as a cloud administrator, the JNCIE-Cloud is worth it as a mountaintop to work toward, but it's not worth it as a short-term goal. The JNCIE-Cloud requires deep technical knowledge and advanced configuration skills. The time and effort you'd put into cramming for the test would be better spent on short-term goals. And even if you could pass it, with only a few years of experience under your belt, you'd struggle to justify earning a position where you'd put it to good use.

If you're early in your career, setting your sights on the JNCIE-Cloud as a long-term goal is definitely worth it. Staying informed on how the exam changes over time and making sure your employer knows you're interested in eventually earning it (see if they'll cover that $1,500 price tag for you) will give you hard goals to work toward.

Is the JNCIE-Cloud Worth It?

The JNCIE-Cloud is definitely worth it, but only for certain IT professionals. If you don't work with the specific aspects of cloud administration and configuration the JNCIE-Cloud covers, it won't be worth $1,500 to certify in them. On the other hand, for the IT professionals who do need a credential that proves their excellence in the most challenging cloud architectures, the JNCIE-Cloud is well worth it.

Using JNCIE-Cloud to Learn Skills

The JNCIE-Cloud exam costs $1,500 to attempt, so in a lot of ways it's much better to use the exam objectives as targets to aim for throughout your career. Using the JNCIE-Cloud to learn skills can show you just how advanced Juniper cloud network architectures can be.

By using the JNCIE-Cloud to learn skills, you can see that knowing how to integrate Juniper tools like Contrail and Contrail Insights with non-Juniper tech like Kubernetes and Openstack will always be a key to mastering Juniper cloud management. Or you can run through the advanced aspects of deploying an IP Fabric Network. If you find virtual labs to practice on, you can set up service chains and troubleshoot an overlay network.

Using JNCIE-Cloud to Validate Skills

The JNCIE-Cloud is one of the world's most challenging and well-respected cloud administration certifications. If you're looking to validate your knowledge and abilities as an expert cloud professional, the JNCIE-Cloud is the gold standard on Juniper-powered networks. Take a quick trip through Reddit or StackExchange and pay attention to the deference paid to anyone with the "JNCIE" tag next to their name. There are only five categories of technical skill that Juniper offers a JNCIE in, holding the JNCIE-Cloud is a huge accomplishment in a career.

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