JNCIE-SP journey: the preparations

By said_vd_klundert
January 11, 2017 7:51 am

The JNCIE-SP journey is a long one. It is time consuming, requires dedication and a lot of hard work. During my preparations, I often looked at the exam blue print and wondered exactly how well versed and proficient I should be in all these different areas. Where should I put my focus? How can I train to better prepare myself for this exam? What would be the best approach? In this article, I want to share with you what resources I used to pass the exam as well as the method that seemed to work best for me.  

The pre-requisite for the JNCIE-SP exam is that you are JNCIP-SP certified. The topics covered on the JNCIP-SP are pretty extensive. I ordered all of the available course material and made sure that I really knew and understood everything that was covered. Instead of simply reading and rereading the courseware, I created summaries and studied those. For the JNCIE, I also supplemented the courseware with the reading list which is posted at the bottom of the article.

Even though the focus for the JNCIP-SP exam was mostly on the theory, I still tried to put everything into practice at least once. By doing so, I made sure I had a thorough understanding of all the different technologies listed on the exam blueprint. I took my time solidifying this knowledge and throughout my preparation for the lab exam and I experienced this as a great plus.

After obtaining the JNCIP-SP, my focus shifted from theory to practice. Knowing is one thing, doing is something completely different. Looking back now, these were three things that I consider the most valuable.


  1. Practice scenarios.

After the JNCIP-SP, I started doing some iNET ZERO labs. I scheduled a rack session and I was amazed:

I totally got my ass handed to me.

The scenarios are extremely challenging. The first time I went through the lab preparation workbook, I actually started to lose some of the confidence I gained by passing the JNCIP-SP. I was confronted with the fact that knowing the theory about an Interprovider VPN option C is something completely different from actually building one and integrating it into a hub and spoke VPN. I learned that activating technologies I never worked with before were difficult to combine with other technologies, let alone implement them in an already complex network. From the detailed walkthrough guide, I learned that the verification I was doing just paled in comparison to what was possible. I learned that it is about the bigger picture as much as it is about the little details.

After completing the iNET ZERO scenarios again (and again and again) my skillset improved dramatically. I got more confident, more skilled at verifying and troubleshooting and more aware of the different ways to solve a problem.

The book also gave me some ideas that I actually implemented in a live network.


  1. Practice and collaborate with others.

Finding someone to work with can be beneficial for a whole multitude of reasons. First of all, you can motivate each other. A second benefit comes from seeing someone else do the same scenario you practiced. This will often offer some insight into different solutions and different approaches to certain networking problems. A third advantage is that when you are stuck on a tough topic, you can ask for help and investigate things together. And last, but certainly not least, it can add to the fun!


  1. Explain it to others.

This can be through blogging, participating in forums or by explaining things to others. When you explain something in your own words, you deepen your understanding of the subject. For me personally, it is also something that greatly added to the fun.


Reading list:

  • All of the official JNCIS and JNCIP SP courseware
    • Junos Intermediate Routing
    • Junos Service provider Switching
    • Advanced Junos Service Provider Routing
    • Junos Class of Service
    • Junos Multicast Routing
    • Junos MPLS and VPNs
  • Day One: Deploying basic QoS
  • This week: Deploying BGP multicast VPNs (2nd edition)
  • This week: deploying MPLS
  • MPLS in the SDN Era
  • Tech note: Understanding RIB Groups
  • MPLS enabled applications
  • QoS enabled networks: tools and foundations, 2nd Edition
  • Junos Enterprise Routing
  • Network mergers and migrations
  • MX Series
  • iNET ZERO tech workbook
  • iNET ZERO lab preparation workbook

Even though there were some occasions where I found that some RFCs clarified my understanding on certain topics, I rarely found the need to consult them. There is one last thing that I do want to mention. For some reason it seems to be overlooked by some, but the last thing worth mentioning is the official Juniper documentation. Check what version of Junos OS will be running on the lab exam and consult the Juniper configuration guides. Several of those guides (MPLS configuration guide, Layer 3 VPNs configuration guide) are pretty well written and can be of great value. The documents are especially useful when you are labbing, to look something up, glance over examples etc.


Last word of advice: remember to have fun during your JNCIE SP journey.

Good luck!

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