Another JNCIE-SP exam story

    I held on a little, but still I want to share my experience, maybe it will be useful to someone.


    The most important and most important thing is thanks to my family, namely my wife and daughter, for their patience and support and understanding. And also to all friends, acquaintances and colleagues!

    I was not preparing for the exam alone, but along with a wonderful spectrvm , without it the process would have been noticeably more difficult, and so we were able to, at least not much, but push each other forward.

    Thanks to the guys from the chat room on Telegram who also continue to follow the same path and actively helped me and I hope that I also helped them. Chatik was formed from a discussion on the linkmeup forum of ideas for preparing and passing Juniper exams.

    Big thanks to Poplar Systemsin general, and Leonid Mirenkov in particular. Thank you very much for the hours spent at your lectures, every minute is a large amount of useful tips and knowledge that help a lot in your work. And of course, for organizing the exam in Russia, although I didn’t have much, I saved on a train to Amsterdam.

    Why all this?

    I think that we should start with why I need it all. The first is an attempt to prove to myself that I can do this. Secondly, somehow fixing your experience and knowledge, yes this is just another piece of paper, but nevertheless it is on these pieces of paper that people unfamiliar with you evaluate you. I mean the professional field. So this is an occasion to start a conversation from another level. And finally, I just love to study and wanted to get new knowledge and systematize the experience that I have accumulated.

    Where do we start

    Before starting the training, I had over seven years of experience in operating carrier networks, and more than ten years of experience with communication networks. Most of this time I worked closely with Juniper equipment. All this greatly facilitated the preparation.

    Also, by the time the preparation began, I already had a number of Cisco and Juniper Professional certificates. I don’t need them at work, it’s purely my own desire to develop and learn and get an independent assessment. It's time to try to get an Expert level certificate.

    Morally, I was ready to start preparing right after the 2014 JNCIP-SP , but somehow my hands didn’t reach and everything seemed to work out.


    If by numbers, then I started training on March 29 and passed the exam on December 5, a total of 505 hours of pure time was spent on preparation for 8 months.

    All measurements were conditionally divided into two parts: theory and practice, as a result it turned out almost 2/3 of the time it took to practice.

    Home lab

    The first or rather zero step was to buy a home server . Actually, this was my home laboratory, in which I practiced and experimented. I advise everyone to start preparing with this step. Without a hand at hand, it will be much more difficult to test acquired knowledge in practice, not to mention the last months of training, when you spend almost all your free time in practical tasks. It is good to collect labs on real hardware, but not everyone has a dozen free routers in the lab. Yes, of course, there is a logical system, but, believe me, vMX is much more convenient, not to mention the limitations of the logical system.

    Initially, I played around with the lab built on VMWare ESXi, but it turned out to be not very constructive. Labu to collect long and dreary. But thanks to the projectthe problem was solved very simply. The unetlab virtual machine (ubuntu 14.04 + KVM + unetlab shell) was raised on ESXi, which solved the issue of simplicity and speed of creating labs. I advise everyone to pay attention to this project if you have not yet encountered it. They plan to release a new product - EVE (pre-alfa is already available for tests), as a development of unetlab ideas.

    Regarding GNS3, I was never a fan of this application, even in the days of dynamips, I made labs in a text editor and ran them under gynagen, somehow it turned out more convenient. Unlike GNS3, unetlab does not require a client installation, which simplifies the process of connecting and creating labs. Need a browser and SecureCRT / Putty or any other telnet / ssh client.

    I note that the lab was crutched connected to the Internet and I could use it from anywhere in the world, with the Internet. That was a big plus.
    In short, VPC was bought (the cheapest costed 150 r per month) with a real IP and a VPN was sent from it to the virtual machine at my place. Through NAT I got access to the unetlab webmord, and through ssh to virtual routers. But this is not a mandatory step, you can get by with the real IP from your provider, or you can don’t bother with this topic at all.

    Step by step

    In short, the preparation plan was as follows:

    • read all the materials I use to prepare for JNCIP;
    • read all the documentation on the recommended sections (without fanaticism, but all) along the way reproducing examples;
    • to do practical tasks from the materials that I can get.

    On the service , I prepared a training plan and followed it, adjusting the dates and scope of work.

    As I understand it now, you can and should read the documentation, but you need to understand the measure, degree, depth. I guessed that they would not climb into the jungle. And many said that the complexity of the exam is in the volume and combination of tasks, and not in their complexity. It was obvious to me that reading from cover to cover makes no sense. But in captivity, I delved into some topics, as it became interesting.

    Advise to read everything or not, I can’t, it depends on your training. It may be worth reading as you master a workbook, when it becomes clear which topics you are swimming in and what needs to be repeated or studied. But I tried to make the practice as intense as possible, so I first got used to the theory, and only then went into practice.

    Last month and a half, I did only practical tasks. Since Windows + SecureCRT + notebook was promised at the exam, I launched a Windows virtual machine and SecureCRT in the lab, connected to it through RDP, connected the keyboard and mouse to my macmini PC with which I planned to go to the exam, and did not switch to osx anymore.

    Where to find the time?

    I set the bar for myself: prepare 16 hours a week (the figure was taken from the guys from linkmeup from their famous project ). I must say that it is very difficult if you are not on vacation.

    I already noticed that self-education is much better when there is a clear goal (such as passing an exam for some kind of certificate) and a clearly allocated time for preparation. Even if it's only an hour a day. The main thing is to force yourself to spend this special hour only on preparation. Probably it will somewhat simplify the task of highlighting this hour at the same time of the day.

    For example: I usually get up at 7 and leave home to work at 8, now I tighten the schedule and get up at 6:30 and from 7 to 8 take the time to prepare. And so every working day.

    We get 5 hours a week. There is still a weekend, if you get another 5 hours there on Saturday and Sunday, then you get 10 hours a week.

    It’s not very convenient for me to study in the evening, my head is already not so good and laziness is harder to fight.

    I started with a slow pace of 5-8 hours a week and gradually increased it. In the last two months, I got up at 5:30 and allocated two hours a day + days off and went out completely at 16 hours a week. Since I entered the rhythm long enough, I felt real fatigue only after the exam and it was very tough!

    Well, you can’t convey the feeling of reading documentation on the beach with an iPad, as well as the implementation of examples between trips to the sea, during the holidays - a complete madhouse. The exam is important, but it is not worth destroying family plans either.

    Having some life experience, I understood that I can get an objective picture only using the correct ruler. I immediately started using the service to measure the time taken to prepare, it turned out to be very useful.

    This, on the one hand, is an objective picture (not fictitious hours, but real minutes), and on the other hand it’s some motivator, because each time it is seen how many hours I don’t get per week. Well, the desire to abandon all this also goes away when you see how much time has already been spent on it!


    In preparation, I used:

    1. The official JunOS 12.3 documentation is as I said above.

    2. A set of books from iNetZero is a key element of preparation. The set contains several books whose descriptions on the publisher’s site are very vague. In order to simplify the task, I’ll give you some comments on each book, so you decide what to buy: Workbook - laboratories for each topic of the exam plus one lab for the whole day, answers in the form of configs without explanation. Walkthrough guide - for each topic of the exam there is a very brief theory and detailed answers for lab workbooks, the value of the book was doubtful for me, but maybe it will be useful to someone. Technology focused lab- the book contains a lot of labs on all topics of the exam + one large lab. All labs contain answers and short comments to them, unlike a workbook. It should be noted that the labs do not coincide with the workbook, so having this book will be very cool, there will be even more material for practical training. It should be noted that despite version 1.1, books contain a fair amount of typos, you can use them, but sometimes the content is bewildering. In fairness, I note that Juniper documentation also contains some errors.

    3. Proteus Workbook - you can find this book on the Internet, but the laboratories in it are noticeably weaker than in iNetZero, I would recommend it only at the initial stage of preparation to enter into the topics of the exam. As I understand it, the book is no longer for sale and the project itself is not developing, but I could be wrong.

    4. Bootcamp lab guide - if you manage to find the labs from the Bootcamp course somewhere, I strongly advise you to pay attention to these labs, especially the Full day lab, very similar to a real exam (the tasks are not the same, but the principle of building the exam is close to the original) . True, this lab is at 6 o’clock, and the exam is at 8, so you proportionally increase the difficulty and can evaluate what awaits you. If you get to Bootcamp itself, it will be fine, it greatly increases your chances.


    I took the exam in Moscow, thanks again to Poplar Systems, once a year they can take any JNCIE exam. For me, the exam date was successful, although I did not guess.

    On the eve of the exam I bought a couple of redbuls. Usually, when I worry, I don’t have any appetite, but somehow there wasn’t any excitement, and in the morning I had quite a hearty breakfast and drank coffee.

    On the spot, we were allowed into the room, where I exacerbated the condition with the first redbul and the work began to boil. Somehow I quickly went into the exam with my head and by lunch I had already completed 2/3 of the exam, after lunch I rolled another jar of redbow and finished off the exam. There is 1 hour and 50 minutes left to check! Honestly, I was shocked by how quickly I did everything. In the process of checking and rechecking, a number of doubts arose in the selected solutions, after hesitation I still made a choice. Since the percentage of completion was not indicated in the final report, it is impossible to understand how I was right with the decisions.

    It seemed to me that I was somewhat overdoing the preparation, because I did everything so quickly, and maybe a lot of experience in the operation helped a lot to concentrate and think quickly. Although the organization of access to hardware is a nightmare, not to mention the 150-200 ms delay, the first 30 minutes are very annoying.


    It's terrible, wait for the result of 7 days. Somewhere on the second or third day I began to get seriously nervous. By the end of the week I was already exhausted. And now, late at night on Monday, finally - Pass - # 2563!

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