Since I continue to receive questions regarding my JNCIP and JNCIE certifications; specifically what I did to prepare, I decided to create this FAQ on preparing for the JNCIP-M Lab Exam – hope it helps!
Q: Is an olive lab suitable for exam preparation?
Q: Are there any problems with using an olive lab exclusively when preparing for the JNCIP-M?
A: Yes, there are some issues. The most obvious is that you will not be able to practice any non-Ethernet interface configurations (no POS or ATM) and even some Ethernet interface configuration will not be possible (most notably MAC address filtering). This is all due to the simple fact that you can not install PICs in a PC, so all ports must be Ethernet and they all show up as fxp interfaces. Additionally, I encountered some general bugginess in our olive lab – reboots or process restarts were necessary from time to time. Overall the problems are far outweighed by the price and availability of building an olive lab vs a full M (or T) series lab, imo.
Q: Which topics should I focus on in my studies?
A: You really do need to understand all of the topics covered in the JNCIP-M Study Guide [PDF]. I remember the system and interface configurations being fairly straightforward, mostly requiring good attention to detail – if you name a router’s hostname or particular log file incorrectly you will lose points. For OSPF and IS-IS, in addition to understanding how to build a scalable IGP using either, you need to know the function of the various LSAs; some of the requirements will likely be worded to test this knowledge. If any area requires more focus than others, it is policy – in addition to there being a specific policy section on the test, good policy is needed in many other areas as well (sharing routes between protocols or areas in your IGP for one). A thorough understanding of BGP (both iBGP and eBGP) is required as well.
Q: What is the format of the test, how will the questions be posed?
A: You will be given a list of requirements, broken into sections – much like the case studies in the study guide. The sections are also similar to the chapter separation in that book, they are: System, Interface, IGP, iBGP, eBGP and Policy.
Q: Will I be required to configure all protocols on a single test-bed with different scenarios?
A: Not quite, there are basically four different tests and you will get one of them, they vary based on some combination of the available IGP and iBGP sections. The possible combinations are:
- OSPF & route reflectors
- OSPF & confederations
- IS-IS & route reflectors
- IS-IS & confederations
Q: Is the JNCIP Study Guide enough preparation or do I need to take a bootcamp?
A: This is really up to you but I would say that if you already have some good experience working with JUNOS that the book should be sufficient (assuming you have a lab to follow along and practice in). If you are still quite new to Juniper Networks products, you can not manage access to a lab, or you just want some extra insurance; a bootcamp may be a good jump-start. I have never taken any exam bootcamps so I can’t say much more.
Q: What do I need to know that is not in the Study Guide?
A: It is very helpful (probably necessary) to be familiar with JUNOS’ command completion and the various ways to load a configuration (or portion of a configuration) in JUNOS – especially one that you cut-and-paste from another router.
Q: Is time an issue?
A: The JNCIP-M is a timed exam and so time and speed are definitely things to consider. In my experience the 8 hours given is plenty if you take advantage of the shortcuts available. You are allowed to open as many terminal sessions as you need and to use notepad as well, when combined with a good understanding of both JUNOS load commands and which portions of config can be duplicated easily, this can save you a ton of time that you might waste otherwise.
Q: How will I know when I am ready for the test?
A: If you can independently complete all of the book case studies in less than 90min each, you are probably ready. In my experience the exam was actually a bit easier than the case studies from the book – less requirements per section. For a rough comparison; as my last act of preparation, I completed all of the books case studies, back to back in about eight hours and I was then able to finish the actual test in around four hours. Of course completing all of the case studies meant that I built both an OSPF and an IS-IS IGP and that I completed configurations for both route-reflector and confederation based iBGP topology – duplications that were not required on exam day.
Now it’s your turn – do you have any questions about the JNCIP-M lab exam? Or maybe you have some better answers to these questions? Leave a comment or shoot me an email!