| technology | networking - Ross Heintzkill
Is the JNCIP-Cloud Worth It?
As with most things Juniper, Juniper Network's cloud service offerings are detailed, complex and extremely deep. Juniper's cloud technologies are – in very Juniper style – designed to work together with technology from within the Juniper ecosystem. When non-Juniper tech starts getting added, the complexity and challenge of maintaining and configuring the cloud goes up dramatically.
Which is why the JNCIP-Cloud is so valuable. Most people who work with Juniper technology are familiar with the deep interconnectivity and particular way of doing things that come with Juniper equipment. Adding non-Juniper hardware or software can be an intimidating struggle. A JNCIP-Cloud certification proves to employers that you're extremely comfortable with Juniper cloud technologies but most especially confident in your abilities to implement cloud tools, concepts and elements from other providers. Read on to learn all about the JNCIP-Cloud and whether or not it's worth earning at all.
What is the JNCIP-Cloud?
JNCIP-Cloud is a professional-level certification that proves an IT professional's advanced knowledge of cloud networking practices and theory. The JNCIP-Cloud is issued by Juniper Networks and requires an extensive understanding of how Juniper Networks devices and software interface provide cloud services and also interface with external cloud service providers.
Juniper structures its certifications according to the category of technology. They offer certification tracks in seven categories other than Cloud, like Data Center, Design, and Security. Each track is split into four levels of expertise: Associate, Specialist, Professional and Expert. The JNCIP-Cloud is the third cert in Juniper's cloud track. It marks the most advanced certification that most cloud professionals end up earning — as the ones that follow, the JNCIEs, are notoriously challenging.
The JNCIP-Cloud is also the first certification in the cloud series that emphasizes technological knowledge outside of Juniper offerings and services. The associate- and specialist-level cloud certs both focus on Juniper products. At the JNCIP level, the material becomes more focused on hybridizing a Juniper network with offerings and services from other providers, presumably because of the unique challenge that interfacing Juniper technologies with non-Juniper tech usually poses.
What Does the JNCIP-Cloud Exam Test?
Earning the JNCIP-Cloud requires passing the JN0-610, a 90-minute written exam with 65 multiple-choice questions. There are six exam objectives for the JN0-610:
- Contrail Enterprise Multicloud Overview
- Kubernetes Integration
- OpenShift Integration
- vCenter Integration
- Multicloud Networking
- Service Chaining
Note that Service Chaining and Contrail are the only two Juniper-related portions. Each of the listed integrations are from external service providers. OpenShift is developed by RedHat, while vCenter is VMware and the Multicloud Networking section focuses on how to integrate Azure and AWS networking concepts into your Juniper cloud.
How Much Does the JNCIP-Cloud Exam Cost?
Although the JNCIP-Cloud only costs $400, it also has two mandatory prerequisites which total $500. The JNCIS-Cloud costs $300 and the JNCIA-Cloud costs $200. This means that the total cost of earning the JNCIP-Cloud is at least $900 – assuming you don't pay for any classes or study materials and pass each exam the first time. The JNCIP-Cloud isn't a cheap undertaking, but many surveys suggest that networking professionals with certifications like the JNCIP-Cloud increase their salaries by much more than $1,000/year.
What Experience Do You Need for the JNCIP-Cloud?
The JNCIP-Cloud is designed for advanced cloud professionals and you should have several years of professional, hands-on experience before you attempt to earn it. Not only that, but the JNCIP-Cloud certifying exam focuses heavily on integrations with cloud service providers like AWS, Azure, and Kubernetes. Before attempting the JNCIP-Cloud, a cloud practitioner would be best served to have several years working exclusively with those providers as well.
It's not absolutely essential that you be qualified on each of the other cloud service providers before attempting the JNCIP-Cloud, but by knowing what those technologies do differently from Juniper will provide you with a grounding and clarity as you navigate interfacing your Juniper cloud with them.
A cloud professional should have hands-on experience with enterprise multicloud deployment and configurations before attempting the JNCIP-Cloud. And since the JNCIP-Cloud is about integrating so many different cloud options with one another, a cloud practitioner should have experience with software-defined networking and service chaining for automating traffic flow between services in virtual networks.
Who Should Take the JNCIP-Cloud?
The JNCIP-Cloud is best suited to cloud professionals who are already far along in their career and need something to set themselves apart.
JNCIP-Cloud for Cloud Engineers
The JNCIP-Cloud is most worth it for cloud engineers. A cloud engineer's most important task is saving their company time and money by having a strong sense of what pre-existing solutions and technologies could be used to fix new problems. The JNCIP-Cloud focuses heavily on how to incorporate other providers' cloud solutions to your existing Juniper network, which makes it a perfect match for a cloud engineer's objectives.
If you work for a company that's looking to rapidly expand its Juniper Network functionality with a public, private or hybrid cloud integration, the JNCIP-Cloud can help you with understanding what providers are worth investigating. On the other hand, if you want to eventually become a cloud engineer, the JNCIP-Cloud can help you define exactly what a cloud engineer needs to know how to accomplish on a daily basis.
JNCIP-Cloud for Network Architects
The JNCIP-Cloud is worth it for network architects, but slightly less so than cloud engineers. A network architect is going to be focused on designing whole infrastructures from the ground up. While understanding how to interface non-Juniper cloud providers with your Juniper network will definitely help that work, with that much runway and time to design a complete solution on your own, you can solve many of the problems with exclusively Juniper tech.
Many network architects aim to eventually earn the JNCIE-Cloud – the expert-level cloud certification from Juniper. The JNCIP-Cloud is a prerequisite to the JNCIE, and so in that case it's absolutely worth it for network architects.
JNCIP-Cloud for a Desktop Support Technician
The JNCIP-Cloud is probably too advanced and specialized to be worth it for a desktop support technician to spend time studying and preparing for. Certifications are a terrific way for desktop support technicians to expand their skill sets and areas of familiarity, but you're better off sticking with the entry-level certs like the JNCIA-Cloud. Juniper's associate-level certs will do a better job of giving you a broad understanding of certain kinds of technology. As a desktop support technician, you'll be moving from one problem to the next so quickly, you'll be better served with that broader education.
But don't underestimate the long-term career value of having a professional-level certification early in your career. If you're angling for a promotion or a career change into something more specialized than desktop support technician, the JNCIP-Cloud can help you make a name for yourself.
Is the JNCIP-Cloud Worth It?
The JNCIP-Cloud is a worthwhile investment of time and energy if your job relates to maintaining or configuring a Juniper cloud network. The lower-level certs (JNCIA & JNCIS) in the cloud track cover broad cloud administration topics particularly well, the JNCIP-Cloud is best for cloud professionals who have to work with non-Juniper technologies in relation to their cloud administration work.
Using JNCIP-Cloud to Learn Skills
Since so much of the JNCIP-Cloud's certifying exam is about how to combine your network with cloud hardware and software from different providers, it's a great certification to learn skills from. As you prepare to take and pass the JN0-610, you'll pick up familiarity with Kubernetes, Red Hat, VMware, Azure, and AWS.
Many of the certifications in the Juniper cloud track are good for learning skills, but the JNCIP-Cloud is especially cross-disciplinary since afterwards you'll know when and why it might be best to use a cloud service provider other than Juniper. Not only that, you'll know how to build the bridge that connects your network services with the external cloud too.
Using JNCIP-Cloud to Validate Skills
All of the professional-level certifications from Juniper are well-regarded by employers who rely on Juniper technology. That's largely because the number of networks that depend solely on Juniper technologies is much smaller than other providers – especially Cisco – but they tend to be exclusively dependent on Juniper. That means that in the world of Juniper-powered networks, the professionals whose skills configuring and implementing network technologies are validated with a cert are particularly valuable.
Companies that invest in Juniper tech are already committed to the company. Having a JNCIP-Cloud sets you apart as a professional not only on those networks but also on taking advantage of any other cloud provider your company might want to explore. Those are exactly the kinds of skills an employer appreciates.