The Case for Juniper Press

When was the last time you went into a bookstore and found a book on the bookshelf covering Juniper technologies?  I’ve managed to rarely, if ever, find more than one or two titles on JUNOS or any sort of Juniper related technology.  On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to miss the bevy of Cisco related titles covering a vast array of technologies and platforms.  When I teach Juniper classes, or I’m on a consulting gig pitching Juniper technologies, one of the things I hear most often is that there aren’t enough resources available to people who want to learn more about JUNOS.  Often the answer is “Well, there’s the Fast Track Program”, or “Well, you can download the free books by Joe Soricelli or Harry Reynolds” (which by the way, it’s high time we get those books back in print – they are excellent books, well written, and in my opinion, second to none when preparing for the Service Provider track).  But often this isn’t enough for the folks who want to learn more.  While Juniper’s Fast Track Program is an extremely valuable resource, it’s coverage is limited to only a few select technologies.  Furthermore, beyond a handful of books on Amazon, there aren’t many additional resources outside of reading Juniper’s technical documentation or various white papers for those students who truly wish to expand their knowledge base.  Sure, the JNCIA-M/T, JNCIS-M/T, JNCIP-M/T, and JNCIE-M/T study guides are freely available, but more often than not people would prefer to have these in hardcopy format rather than in a PDF and printing a PDF doesn’t provide the reader with quite the same experience.  I don’t care what anyone thinks, electronic formats aren’t going to be replacing printed books anytime soon.  Just ask yourself when was the last time you read an entire book on a computer screen?  NOTE TO AUTHORS: A Kindle version would be nice and this would be a good first step, but then again, how many people do you know that actually own a Kindle?

In 1996, when Cisco Press was formed as a joint publishing partnership with Pearson Education, Cisco realized that providing educational materials to meet the growing demand for networking technologies was going to be a cornerstone to their success.  In 1997, “Internet Routing Architectures” by Sam Halabi rolled off the printing press and was an instant best seller.  The rest was pretty much history.  Cisco understood early on that there was a vacuum in the market for high-quality technical books covering the networking arena, and more specifically Cisco technologies.  They met that demand and incidently watched their market share grow to the behemoth they are today.  Since its inception, Cisco Press has published well over 400 titles.  It’s no surprise that given a wealth of educational resources at their disposal, engineers who understand a given technology are more apt to recommend those technologies to their peers, and more importantly, to the people who often end up buying the technology. One only needs to look at the 20,000+ CCIEs in the world today to understand thats a pretty big propaganda machine to silence.

I’ve worked with both Cisco and Juniper technologies for a long time, and I’m convinced that Juniper’s products are infinitely superior, but if Juniper is serious about being a major competitor, especially in the Enterprise market or other market segments outside of the Service Provider arena, it’s high time they think about creating a publication arm which can compete with the likes of Cisco Press.  It might not be the most profitable business, and in fact, if you’re simply looking at dollars and cents with a microscopic view, it might even be a losing proposition.  But the demand is out there, and if they meet it, I am fairly certain Juniper will see their marketshare increase in a really big way.

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5 Replies to “The Case for Juniper Press”

  1. Juniper don’t seem to pursue the building mindshare through education and presenting best practice route. If you look at Nanog,Apricot type conferences you often see people like Philip Smith@Cisco doing workshops and BGP presentations. I really don’t see Juniper doing the same thing.

  2. Stefan, I agree with your perspective on this matter and appreciate your taking the time to publicize it. Having served most of my Juniper career in Education Services I can say we always felt the best way to drive router sales, albeit obliquely, was to provide high-quality training to as many as we could. As you indicate, folks tend to buy what they know.

    I’m very thankful that Juniper has supported the various book efforts I’ve been involved in, and the JUNOS as a second language and various free training programs being made available does go a long way towards spreading the JUNOS love, as I like to say.

    Still, there is something to be said for the old-fashion hard-copy; yet another of your thoughts to which we are of like mind. If I have serious reading to do I always prefer paper, and these books are serious in the sense of far too much content for a computer screen.

    Juniper continues to support book efforts and I too hope that one day this will become more formalized and structured, rather than the somewhat loosely coordinated “volunteer” basis that now seems the norm. Perhaps with enough similar views decision makers at Juniper will get such a ball rolling.

    Regards, Harry Reynolds

  3. Stefan,

    nice post, fully agree. Educated customer is the best customer, seen many times in my network integration experience. Building ‘Juniper Press’ may be expensive in terms of money, time, people, but sure it will pay off. Juniper (and other companies) should take the lesson of Cisco technical education.

    Good, we have the new O’Reilly books, but as Harry said, it’s “volunteer” basis and may end without strong company support. We at least 2 new books a year to make us busy reading 🙂

    Regards

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