Good Night, JNCIE

About a week ago I decided to throw in the towel on my Juniper Networks certifications, namely the only one I have left, the JNCIE-SP.

I passed the JNCIE-M lab in Herndon, VA, USA on 2010-09-24 (age: 29) and it was converted to the JNCIE-SP on 2012-05-19. I spent count countless hours building and manipulating a Junos (when did they change it from JUNOS?) virtual lab with Olives and tons of logical routers (nowadays called LSYS) and more VLAN tags than a single fxp0 control plane interface was ever meant to carry to learn the ins and outs of things like MPLS TE, multicast, and BGP. I did most of the lab work and studying at the Panera Bread in Ballantyne, which was a short walk from the condominium I owned in Charlotte, NC between 2005 and 2014. No, I didn’t gain any weight during this period because it was typically after work and also after a trip to the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center, where I swam countless laps.

My lab setup started with a bare metal eMachines Celeron-based PC running a version (8.4?) of Junos Olive, which consisted of the Junos control plane and the FreeBSD kernel as a data plane(-ish). It was a horrible hack and the only way to add more nodes was to create logical-routers and connect them together with VLAN tags on the only interfaces that existed on the image, which were from the fxp driver in FreeBSD. I also made use of some MX240s that were set aside for “testing” in the lab at my current job (Time Warner Cable) to gain exposure to some data plane things that the Olive didn’t support like CoS.

I passed the JNCIP-M lab in Sunnyvale, CA, USA on 2009-09-16 and found it fairly easy (I was done in under half the time allocated). The JNCIE-M was quite a bit more complex (IS-IS, MPLS-TE, SONET, and other stuff) and if I remember corectly I took most of the time allocated and then YOLO’ed the submit button. Here’s a photo of the office on the day of the exam:

Juniper Networks office in Herndon, VA, USA

I ended up passing it on the first try. This was in stark comparison to my experience with the JNCIE-SEC, which I failed twice and decided to not pursue further.

The Junos lab has changed a bit over the years but is still technically running! It’s now powered by vMX and some SRX hardware running in both packet and flow mode and is documented here (yes, it’s up to date as of this writing!). As far as the non-Junos systems, VMs changed to LXCs, Dynamips changed to IOSv, NX-OSv, and IOS XRv. No, I never used GNS3 or anything like that. The lab is fully-built from my own scripts that call KVM, VirtualBox, and Linux’s networking and container things like bridges and LXCs.

For awhile I carried both the JNCIE-SP and JNCIP-SEC. I ended up giving up on the JNCIP-SEC in 2019 and that certification expired on 2019-07-16. The last time I really touched firewalls in a production environment was in 2013 so that certification was fairly useless. I kept recertifiying JNCIP-SEC until 2023. My scores kept falling since I didn’t really work with any Juniper Networks gear past 2014 or 2015. Although I initially scheduled the JNCIP-SP for May of 2023 I ended up cancelling it because I figured dragging it on and on wasn’t worth the expense (my current employer would still continue to pay the $400/exam) or the studying.

I suppose it’s an end of an era. Although, I still have lots of bare-metal Junos-based boxes at home that I find myself tweaking periodically. I suppose it’s 4x EX2200-Cs, 3x SRX210s, and 1x SRX300. I’m not counting the NetScreen-5 that I still keep online, which runs an ancient version of ScreenOS (NetScreen was acquired by Juniper Networks in 2004).

Nowadays my day job consists of some amount of traditional networking, project management, and business development. The days of being a command-line warrior are mostly behind me.

I will still be a fully-certified JNCIE until 2023-08-17 where I will be designated a JNCIEĀ Emeritus, which practically means nothing. Effectively, this date will be when the sun sets on my JNCIE certification (AKA good night).

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