| technology | networking - Ross Heintzkill
Is the JNCIE-ENT Worth It?
The modern world is like an ocean of networks. Email, video messaging, websites, servers, databases, they're all floating around in the ecosystem that is interconnected computers and devices all around the world. But there are behemoths in those waters – massive networks that connect the most users in the most places. These enterprise networks are uniquely challenging to set up and administer because they combine physical and virtual networks and network protocols to connect users with data center and cloud applications.
Juniper Networks is known for powering the biggest and most complicated enterprise networks, and the engineers, architects and advanced administrators who work on them are in high demand. The JNCIE-ENT is earned by the most skilled and experienced men and women who work on Juniper enterprise networks. You can learn whether or not it's worth it for you and your career by reading on.
What is the JNCIE-ENT?
The JNCIE-ENT is the abbreviated form of Juniper's expert-level certification in enterprise administration, short for Juniper Networks Certified Internetworking Expert – Enterprise Routing and Switching. The JNCIE-ENT is the fourth and final certification in Juniper's family of enterprise routing and switching certifications.
The JNCIE-ENT represents a pinnacle of knowledge and familiarity designing, implementing, managing and configuring enterprise routing and switching platforms powered by Juniper Networks technologies. It's the last of a family of enterprise certs that start with the general JNCIA-Junos. After that, the specialist-level JNCIS-ENT is the first enterprise-related cert. That's followed by the professional-level JNCIP-ENT.
The JNCIE-ENT is a challenging certification that's earned by very few network engineers or architects, but the few who do are thoroughly trained experts familiar with every last configuration of a Juniper enterprise network. Holding the JNCIE-ENT represents an IT professional's theoretical knowledge of networking protocols and features as well as deep technical ability in configuring and implementing them with on-premises equipment or cloud deployments.
What Does the JNCIE-ENT Exam Test?
The JNCIE-ENT exam is the JPR-944, a 6-hour, hands-on lab. Passing the JPR-944 requires proving mastery over enterprise protocols and devices by building a complete enterprise network infrastructure. You'll spend the six hours performing system configuration on all the devices such an enterprise network would require as well as implementing advanced protocols and features. The JNCIE-ENT exam has eight objectives:
- Class of Service
- System Setup
- Layer 2 Switching and Security
- Protocol Independent Routing
As you build the enterprise network, aspects of implementing those various protocols and features will be challenged. Passing the JNCIE-ENT exam JPR-944 means demonstrating a level of understanding of each enterprise networking technology deep enough to overcome obstacles while building a fully functioning enterprise network.
How Much Does the JNCIE-ENT Exam Cost?
The JNCIE-ENT exam costs $1,600 to attempt. It's a notoriously difficult hands-on lab, so preparation should be included in the cost as well. You'll probably want to find training courses as well as virtual lab environments that walk you through configurations and implementations of the same protocols and features you'll be tested on. On top of that, the test is administered in-person, so you'll probably be traveling to the test location and maybe even paying for a room.
Last, the JNCIE-ENT has a formal prerequisite: the cert that comes before it, the JNCIP-ENT. But its prerequisite is the one that precedes it, and likewise for that one. All told, to include the previous certs, the total cost of the JNCIE-ENT is $2,500 plus travel, accommodations and training.
What Experience Do You Need for the JNCIE-ENT?
There are no formal experience prerequisites for the JNCIE-ENT. Some vendors need an amount of time on the job, but Juniper isn't interested in that. That's because they're not certifying the position of Juniper enterprise network architect. They're only certifying an expert-level of knowledge in Juniper enterprise network protocols and features, so the experience you need for the JNCIE-ENT is whatever it would take for you to get from your current proficiency to mastery of Juniper enterprise networks.
Look at the details of the enterprise network that you build for the exam for a clue as to what experience you need before you need for the JNCIE-ENT. For automation, you'll want to know how to manage on-box and off-box scripts and manage the Junos Space. For both Class of Service and EVPN, you should be comfortable with configuring and troubleshooting those protocols. You'll need comfort with OSPFv2, OSPFv3 and IS-IS for the IGP portion as well as comfort with routing policy overall. For the BGP section, you should understand multi-ISP routing, IBGP route-reflectors, and the details of the BGP route-selection process.
The system startup section will include device-level security, device interfaces and system-level configurations like SNMP, DHCP services and NTP. Layer 2 switching and security is one of the largest parts of the lab, where you'll be challenged on VLAN, spanning tree protocols, telephony functions and layer 2 security. Last, you should be comfortable with aggregating and generating qualified next hops and static routes for the protocol independent routing section.
Who Should Take the JNCIE-ENT?
The JNCIE-ENT is one of the most advanced certifications in networking. Between the prerequisites and the challenging exam, it's probably out of reach for junior IT professionals. But for network architects or network engineers sitting at the top of their career, it's a way to differentiate yourself and validate years of experience.
Is JNCIE-ENT Worth It for Network Architects?
Yes, the JNCIE-ENT is worth it for network architects. The ability to build an enterprise network infrastructure from the ground-up is a key part of a network architect's responsibilities. And having the JNCIE-ENT will prove two things to an employer. First, you have the technical proficiency to implement Juniper technology for an enterprise network. Second, the JNCIE-ENT shows that you can think with the different ways of implementing the services and technologies available and select the appropriate solutions for the unique problems that your network poses.
For an employer, knowing they can put their enterprise network in the hands of someone with proven critical thinking skills is highly valuable.
Is JNCIE-ENT Worth It for Network Engineers?
Yes, the JNCIE-ENT is worth it for network engineers. For similar reasons as network architects, a network engineer with their JNCIE-ENT can be trusted to come up with the right solutions for complex problems. Where a network architect might focus on building the right network from the ground up, a network engineer might be more focused on using the existing resources available to solve network problems.
The JNCIE-ENT proves a mastery over all the available resources and technologies in a Juniper enterprise network. An employer or manager who needs to find a network engineer who can understand and solve complex network concerns with unique business constraints will trust one with their JNCIE-ENT.
Is JNCIE-ENT Worth It for a Network Administrator?
No, the JNCIE-ENT probably isn't worth it for a network administrator or anyone who isn't nearing the end of their career ladder. The total, cumulative cost of earning the JNCIE-ENT can exceed $2,500. For a junior administrator or someone who's only a couple years into their career, there are better short-term goals than the JNCIE-ENT.
However, the JNCIE-ENT is an excellent goal for a network administrator to aim their career towards. Look at the exam objectives and learning expectations for passing the JNCIE-ENT and make mastering them a part of your overall career plan.
Is the JNCIE-ENT Worth It?
The JNCIE-ENT is definitely worth it for networking professionals who are looking for a way to distinguish themselves from their most experienced, highly trained peers. At a certain point in your career, you'll be constantly compared to men and women who are at the absolute top of their game. A certificate like the JNCIE-ENT is a differentiator and worth it for proving you're unrivaled in managing Juniper enterprise networks and technologies.
Using JNCIE-ENT to Learn Skills
The JNCIE-ENT tests nothing but the most advanced Juniper enterprise networking skills and knowledge. For someone who works on Juniper enterprise networks, the learning objectives of the JNCIE-ENT and the exam expectations can be used to signpost what you should learn to become a master – and you don't actually have to take the $1,500 test.
Using the JNCIE-ENT to learn skills isn't as easy as it can be with other certifications, but it is possible to find test prep materials and resources. Once you have those, break each section and piece of technology into a career goal all its own. You can find courses that cover those individual sections or just prepare you for the entire exam – and they're much cheaper than the exam itself.
Using JNCIE-ENT to Validate Skills
The JNCIE-ENT is one of Juniper's most advanced certifications. Using JNCIE-ENT to validate skills is exactly why the certification exists. It's a credential reserved for the most experienced networking professionals. If you've spent several years mastering Juniper configurations and advanced networking skills for enterprise networks, there's no higher achievement than the JNCIE-ENT to set yourself apart and validate those skills.