Is the JNCIS-Cloud Worth It?
| technology | networking - Josh Burnett

Is the JNCIS-Cloud Worth It?

Juniper Networks is a solid player in the networking space, owning about one-third of the global market. As the IT world has transitioned to using the cloud as a cornerstone in the vast majority of networks, Juniper has adapted, creating and expanding their Cloud certification track.

The focus of Juniper's Cloud certification pathway is validating a candidate's "competence with cloud networking architectures such as multiclouds, software-defined networking, SD-WAN, and other cloud technologies." Depending on which of the four certifications in the track you're working toward, you'll focus more on deployment, implementation, or configuration of various Juniper Networks cloud technologies.

What is the JNCIS-Cloud?

The JNCIS-Cloud is the second of four certification levels in the Juniper Networks Certification Program (JNCP) Cloud Track. Focused on what Juniper classifies as a Specialist, this cert is "designed for networking professionals with intermediate knowledge of software-defined networking, theory, and best practices," and the exam revolves around verifying your "understanding of software-defined networking principles and technologies."

What Does the JNCIS-Cloud Test?

The current JNCIS-Cloud exam is JN0-412 and tests across seven domains:

  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Theory and Applications
  • Cloud Orchestration
  • Contrail Architectures and Services
  • Contrail Security
  • Contrail Fabric Deployment
  • Contrail Fabric Management
  • Contrail Monitoring and Analytics

The material has a solid conceptual foundation, with each domain having one or more sections requiring you to identify core concepts related to that area.

  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Theory and Applications
  • Identify SDN concepts
  • Describe cloud concepts
  • Identify OpenStack concepts
  • Identify Kubernetes concepts
  • Identify Contrail architectural concepts
  • Identify Contrail virtual networking concepts
  • Identify Contrail security concepts
  • Identify Contrail Fabric deployment concepts
  • Identify Contrail Fabric management concepts
  • Identify knowledge of AppFormix analytics concepts

As a Specialist, however, you’re required to do more than simply understand the theory behind the technology. Nearly every domain also has a section requiring you to demonstrate knowledge of some area.

  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Theory and Applications
  • Cloud Orchestration
  • Contrail Architectures and Services
  • Contrail Security
  • Contrail Fabric Deployment
  • Contrail Fabric Management
  • Contrail Monitoring and Analytics

As you can tell from the breakdown, Contrail plays a substantial role in the JNCIS-Cloud curriculum. You should feel very comfortable with Contrail; if you don't, you're likely not ready to attempt the JNCIS-Cloud exam.

How Much Does the JNCIS-Cloud Cost?

The cost of a voucher for the JNCIS-Cloud exam is $300, but you'll need to earn the JNCIA-Cloud first at a cost of $200 more (if you pass on your initial attempt). However, this is simply the cost to sit for the exam; to prepare for a successful attempt, Juniper recommends taking a course titled Cloud Automation Using Contrail (CAC).

The course is online, instructor-led, and lasts for five days, covering a comprehensive overview of how to use Contrail at the level expected of a Specialist. It isn’t cheap, by any means; at $4,750, you’ll definitely want to check and see if your employer is willing to pay for the training. However, it is worth it. The JN0-412 exam pulls material directly from the course curriculum, so you’ll be better prepared to pass the exam on the first try.

The course will give you "in-depth knowledge of how to use the Contrail Command user interface, Contrail Networking, Contrail's fabric management and administration features, Contrail Security, and the analytics features of Contrail Insights." Additionally, the demonstrations and hands-on labs will give you experience in working with "APIs and the CLI to perform Contrail configuration tasks."

Beyond merely obtaining the certification, though, a deep understanding of Contrail will only serve to accentuate the knowledge, skills, and abilities you'll use on a regular basis as the owner of a JNCIS-Cloud cert.

The exam is comprised of 65 multiple-choice questions, and you’re allowed 90 minutes to complete it. You'll receive your score immediately after completion, so waiting to find out if you passed won't be something you have to deal with.

What Experience Do You Need for the JNCIS-Cloud?

Juniper Networks has only one hard and fast requirement to sit for the JNCIS-Cloud: you have to earn the JNCIA-Cloud certification first. Generally speaking, you should have a couple of years of experience working with Juniper cloud technology and Contrail specifically before you attempt to sit for the JNCIS-Cloud exam.

Who Should Take the JNCIS-Cloud?

Although Juniper isn’t the largest player in this space by any means, they have a solid niche and aren’t going anywhere soon. Because both their equipment and terminology are unique, IT pros certified to work in the Junos world will always have a ticket to a unique job market.

The Juniper Cloud certification track has a central focus on cloud networking architecture, so anyone who works on creating or administering cloud technology would benefit from earning one or more certifications in this track.

JNCIS-Cloud for Cloud Administrators

Juniper Networks technology has several crucial advantages that appeal to specific customers; among these, networking speed is one of the most highly emphasized. If you work in cloud administration for long enough, you’ll eventually encounter an employer or client who wants to use Junos-based equipment. Proactively earning certifications in this area will set you up for long-term success.

JNCIS-Cloud for Cloud Security Managers

In addition to having a domain explicitly dedicated to it, the concept of cloud security is baked into every aspect of the JNCIS-Cloud certification. The cybersecurity industry as a whole is in dire need of qualified professionals, and the more specific the technology is, the harder it is to find someone to fill it. These kinds of gaps directly translate into higher salaries and more job opportunities for those who are qualified.

If you work in cloud security, pursuing Juniper certifications will almost certainly make you more employable and increase the profitability of your long-term career prospects.

JNCIS-Cloud for Cloud Architects

Juniper’s cloud track heavily emphasizes architecture and, at the higher levels, networking and cloud theory. For professionals who plan to spend a career in the cloud and eventually become architects, earning the pinnacle JNCIE-Cloud certification is a goal well worth pursuing. To get there, you’ll need to acquire each of the credentials on the pathway, including the JNCIS-Cloud.

Is the JNCIS-Cloud Worth It?

The simple answer is yes. Juniper Networks isn't going anywhere; if anything, their routing and networking niche is becoming more well-established, and the cloud track demonstrates their commitment to evolving with the industry.

Using the JNCIS-Cloud to Learn Skills

The JNCIS-Cloud certification covers a substantial amount of material. Regardless of your experience or background with Juniper technology, you'll almost certainly learn something new as you prepare for the exam.

Additionally, Juniper's cloud certification track is set up to build on each previous level. Even if the JNCIS-Cloud is just a stepping stone to your targeted cert, ensuring that you have a solid understanding of the knowledge required in each of the domains will only set you up for success in subsequent certifications.

Using the JNCIS-Cloud to Validate Skills

There is no other accreditation system to validate an in-depth understanding of Junos-based equipment and technology outside of Juniper’s certification tracks. Earning the JNCIS-Cloud validates that you have the skills necessary to work with Juniper's approach to numerous cloud networking architectures, including SD-WAN, multiclouds, and software-defined networking, among others.

If you work in the cloud, there’s a chance that your career will touch Juniper tech; getting started on Juniper Networks cloud certification track will only benefit you.

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