An Inside Look at Juniper Networks’ Forthcoming JNCIE-DC Exam

Data Centers and the Cloud are all the rage right now, and Juniper has been at the forefront of the Data Center revolution from the very beginning – early on with their introduction of the QFX and the much maligned QFabric, and more recently with the addition of Virtual Chassis Fabric (VCF), various open architectures for creating IP Clos Fabrics, and even advanced features such as Junos Fusion for the Data Center which collapse and simplify the deployment and management of a large number of Ethernet switches.

The JNCIP-DC is currently rated as the fifth hottest Data Center certification by Tom’s IT Pro, an online resource tracking the demand of various industry certifications.

The folks at the Juniper Networks Technical Certification Program (JNTCP) have not been far behind, creating a Data Center track and releasing a new certification, the Juniper Networks Certified Professional Data Center (JNCIP-DC). I’ve been following the developments within the Data Center track for a while now, and you could imagine my delight when I saw the following a few months back on Juniper’s Certification portal:

Within the Juniper community there is an intense interest to learn more about the JNCIE-DC exam, especially by the many JNCIx certified individuals who are interested in adding one more notch on the veritable certification bedpost, myself included. Details have been sparse as the exam is still in development, but I’ve managed to speak to a few of my former colleagues within the JNTCP and they were kind enough to give me some details as to what we can expect on the exam.

Exam Topics

At the time of this writing, here are topics that can we can expect to be covered on the JNCIE-DC exam. Please note, these topics may change as the exam is still under development:

  • VCF configuration
  • MC-LAG configuration
  • BGP for an IP Clos fabric configuration
  • EVPN/VXLAN configuration
  • DCI configuration
  • Control plane protection
  • Basic SRX configuration (security zones/policies)
  • CoS
  • ZTP
  • On-the-box script (i.e. event scripts)
  • Junos Space to manage Junos Devices
  • NETCONF

Quite of few of these topics should come as no surprise. In fact, anybody who has taken the Data Center Switching (DCX) or the Advanced Data Center Switching (ACDX) classes will likely recognize quite a few of them — obvious things like VCF, EVPN/VXLAN, Data Center Interconnect and provisioning with ZTP.

One topic that jumps out at me that I did not expect to see is the basic SRX configuration. Given that this topic is not covered under any of the corresponding courseware materials it will obviously require that the candidate spend some time outside of the standard curriculum and learn about basic security configuration on the SRX. Furthermore, items like control plane protection will at the very least likely require some exposure to best current practice with regards to protecting the routing engine using mechanisms such as loopback filters and DDoS Protections. The MX book might be a good reference here.

Insofar as the topic of CoS, I would expect this to be very similar to the other JNCIE exam tracks in that a basic level of understanding of classification (Multifield and Behavior Aggregate), policing, scheduling, queue configuration, RED drop profiles and remarking would be required.

One item that certainly does not appear on the list of topics above is Contrail. We can all breathe a sigh of relief for the moment as I’ve been told that this will definitely NOT be on the exam. Although they do state that there will be overlays (as evidenced by the inclusion of BGP/IP Clos Fabrics and VTEP/VXLAN), all the overlays will be controller-less. I would expect this to possibly change down the road as Contrail matures and becomes more integral to the creation of overlays in the Data Center.

Topology

One last thing to note is that I’ve been told that the labs in the DCX and ADCX courseware are very representative of the type of lab that will be used in the JNCIE-DC exam. So in terms of building out the topology this would be a great place to start. In addition, as there will be basic SRX on the exam, my suggestions for a decent lab topology would look like the following:

  • 2 MX devices – vMX should be a suitable alternative
  • 2 SRX devices – vSRX should be a suitable alternative
  • Minimum 3 QFX devices, preferably QFX5k or higher. Perhaps vQFX might be sufficient here but I am unsure if all features will be supported or will have the ability to run as Spine switches in a Spine-Leaf configuration
  • 2 EX4300s – mostly to be able to run as leaf nodes in a mixed-mode Virtual Chassis Fabric
  • Decent server to run Junos Space, and to store ZTP scripts, etc.
Suggested Study Material

In addition to building out the above lab topology, I would strongly suggest the following materials to be used in the course of study:

Stay tuned for some additional articles in the future where I will expand on the above, getting into more details into each of the topics and what I would recommend as additional study material. I will also further describe the topology I will be using as I begin my pursuit of this exciting new certification. Until then, happy labbing!

26 Replies to “An Inside Look at Juniper Networks’ Forthcoming JNCIE-DC Exam”

  1. Stefan, this very informative; Also, what do you think about EX9200 in the topology?
    I think A bigger portion of the lab could be prepared on KVM labbing tools, but at some point, you would need a mix of QFX5100 (24Q/48S/96S) and EX4300 hardware for VC and Ethernet Fabric (VCF/Junos Fusion).
    IP Fabric could be emulated on KVM using vQFX and vMX, again you may need hardware if you want to keep it close to what you might be seeing int lab – a mix of QFX5K or QFX10K+QFX5K; QFX Layer 2 GW, MX L3 GW etc.
    Practising exercises given in DCX, ADCX lab guides is a good place to start; once Exam Objectives released by JNCP team, studies/lab topology/base-configs could be adjusted accordingly.

    Thanks for the information!

    1. Hi Mohammad — I think the EX9200 would probably be ok, certainly as a suitable replacement for the MX portion, but definitely not really for any other purpose as it can’t be used as a leaf node in a mixed-mode VCF. The more I think about it, for practical purposes, I really believe a mixture of QFX5k and EX4300s will need to be used for VCF. Perhaps if one were constrained and could only get access to the physical equipment for a few days, that would probably be sufficient to master VCF. But I am in total agreement that beyond that, vQFX and vMX should totally be able to be used for building the IP Fabric. Thanks for visiting and looking forward to collaborating with all of you in this endeavor.

    1. Hi Denis — if I had to guess, I’d estimate that the exam will probably be available by the summer. I believe beta testing begins sometime in March, but I’m not certain. I believe all the slots have been taken for the beta unfortunately. I also wouldn’t mind getting involved as I helped to develop quite a few of the existing exams back when I was a proctor at Juniper a few years ago. These advanced level certifications are very near and dear to my heart. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Stefan,

    Based what Juniper chosen the candidates for the beta exam?
    Was there any announcement or was it done internally?

    I was actually aiming that opportunity 😀

    Thanks for the amazing post.

    Ab.

    Regards.

    1. Hi Ab — I believe Juniper simply chose candidates for the Alpha and Beta based on their skills and qualification and background in Data Center technologies. I am not 100% sure as I am not participating in either, as much as I wish I was. I think the announcement of candidates is something that is internal to the JNTCP.

      Thank you though for taking the time to read my post and I appreciate your kind words! All the best in your pursuits!

  3. Let’s be study buddies!

    The beta is Feb 8, so that’s unfortunately too early for me to take it. For those wondering, the betas are generally invite-only (I did the alpha JNCIE-ENT when it was first released, and the beta JNCIE-SP when it was revised a couple years ago).

    The exam is likely to go live some time in Q2.

    For topology, like Stefan mentioned, the ADCX topology would be the best way to start. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if the lab exam used the exact same pods as the classes!

      1. Thanks Stephen

        Informative , vcf and fusion is being promoted by juniper for DC deployement .i am currently preparing with jncip dc . Good to know beta exam is coming soon . Don’t. Mind Being included in study group .

  4. Count me in if you set up a study group.

    Things I’d like to point out:

    1, Internal beta starts around 02/2017(at least for Herndon VA) – Per Ryan Israel(You know who he is);

    2, I would think QFX5100 book and QFX10K book only covered the basics, we need to practice some of the advanced EVPN/VXLAN techniques;

    3, The name of JNTCP is not used anymore starting 2012, it is called JNCP now(although I like JNTCP better) :-p

    1. Hey Louis!

      Yep, I’ve heard that the beta starts in February, I know of at least one person who will be taking the exam. And I agree with you on the QFX books, there are definitely advanced concepts which will need to be thoroughly understood beyond just what is covered in those books.

      And thank you for the clarification on the JNCP. You can see how long it has been for me since I was in that group 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Hi !
    Thanks for the brand new information on the upcomming JNCIE-DC

    I just studied a lot on EVPN as I have designed and already given some special courses on EVPN at INDC Germany [JNDCI-EVPN-EE] (with more focus on MX and EVPN/MPLS as the customers in germany are just using that flavour of EVPN),
    but also using EVPN/VXLAN on MX and now also on vQFX.

    Yes and I am also interested in participating and sharing knowledge and information in a study group and doing the JNCIE-DC as quick as possible

    Alexander Marhold
    JNCIP*4, JNCISP*3,JNCDS*3
    INDC Germany

    1. Hi.
      As an attendee of Alexander Marhold’s great trainings I really do agree that EVPN/MPLS really matters in distributed enterprise DC Interconnect scenarios. The benefit is spanning a consistent scaleable, multi-tenancy L2 and L3 framework through corporate Data Centers. The MX Platform offers highest flexibility in regards to this approach, today. I would really appreciate some focus for this interesting DCI option when it comes to JNCIE-DC examination.

      Patrick
      JNVOC = JN Voice Of the Customer 😉

  6. Hey Stefan,

    Thanks for the post! I scheduled my exam for June. I have my virtual lab set up with the ADCX topology, going over labs from DCX and ADCX courses, but would like to collaborate, so let me know if you have room in your study group:)

      1. Yes, all virtual, although I did not get very far with it before realizing its limitations. The vQFX image I have is not stable. I am going to have to convert all of the devices to vMX for now unless I can find a working vQFX. Still looking. Join the Slack study group for updates.

  7. Hi Stefan,

    I have Ryver(Slack has storage issues) study group created and we are mostly trying to get things running on a virtual lab as well. I had tried contacting mtucker but haven’t received any response back(Was trying to merge the group). I have people from here who are already on the Ryver group. I can send out invites so that we can all collaborate?

    ~Koushik

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