Since my FAQ on the JNCIP-M continues to be one of the most popular posts I have written here on my blog, I guess it makes sense to compliment that with a similar FAQ for the JNCIE-M lab exam. For consistency, I will try and answer all the same questions I did for the JNCIP (this time with the JNCIE in mind) and add in some JNCIE specific Qs and As as well. As always, your feedback and additional questions are welcome!
Q: Is an olive lab suitable for exam preparation?
Q: Are there any problems with using an olive lab exclusively when preparing for the JNCIE-M?
A: Yes, there are issues. You will of course have the same problems surrounding every interface being an fxp interface and the same general bugginess you saw when studying for the JNCIP-M. Additionally, you will likely have at least some problems with multicast, firewall filters and CoS. This means that it will be a bit harder to study for the JNCIE in an all-Olive lab than studying for the JNCIP was. Overall the problems are still outweighed by the price and availability of building an olive lab vs a full M (or T) series lab, but if you can get access to a “real” test bed – I highly recommend it.
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] and the JNCIE-M Study Guide [PDF]. Don’t forget to review the JNCIP-M guide again as at least one section of the JNCIE-M exam is almost straight out of that guide and much of the knowledge needed during the JNCIE is from the JNCIP material. Some important topics to be particularly aware of during your studies are:
- Network discovery, evaluation and troubleshooting.
- Exchanging routes between up to 3 different IGPs across multiple redistribution points while maintaining a loop-free, stable and redundant topology.
- Scalable, redundant and complex MPLS and MPLS-TE network setup.
- L2 and L3 VPNs.
- Large multicast forwarding topologies (including multi-AS scenarios), using a different logical topology than unicast traffic.
- CoS design and replication based on specific criteria.
Q: What is the format of the test, how will the questions be posed?
A: Much like the JNCIP test (and the study guide case studies), you will be given a list of requirements, broken into sections. The sections are again similar to the chapter topics, this time those in the JNCIE book (Discovery and Verification, MPLS and TE, etc). The JNCIE is different however in the way that the requirements are posed, while the JNCIP followed the book very closely, the JNCIE diverges a bit more and is a bit less direct. Instead of step by step instructions like you experienced with the IP exam, there is a more indirect ‘figure out what these requirements mean and then follow them’ type approach. For this reason I highly recommend that you read all of the requirements at least twice and ask the proctor plenty of clarifying questions as you work through them.
Q: Will I be required to configure all protocols on a single test-bed with different scenarios?
A: Not entirely. Again like the IP, the IE exam does not cover every possible scenario all in one test.
Q: Are the Study Guides enough preparation or do I need to take a bootcamp?
A: I have never taken any exam bootcamps so I can’t say much on this topic, at least not without running the risk of being wrong ;). So I leave this choice up to you, but I would say that experience is crucial to passing a lab test as demanding as the JNCIE-M and that I don’t think a bootcamp will be able make up for a lack thereof.
Q: What do I need to know that is not in the Study Guide?
A: You will again need to be familiar with JUNOS’ command completion and the various ways to load a configuration (or portions of a configuration) in JUNOS (cut-and-paste is your friend). You will also need to have skill and experience troubleshooting existing networks; quick effective troubleshooting is very hard to study and mostly must be learned through trial by fire lessons and genuine experience.
Q: Is time an issue?
A: Just like the JNCIP-M, the JNCIE-M is a timed exam and so time and speed must be considered. f you are truly prepared for the exam, 8 hours should be plenty of time to finish. Don’t try to speed through it though – mistakes are much more costly than the time it takes to re-read a requirement, ask a question or verify your network. Use the shortcuts available to you and take your time to do things right the first time.
Q: Exactly how many routers you need to set up a lab to practice in?
A: The case studies in the book use 7 routers, plus there are the customer, peer and transit routers. But you don’t need that many if you use logical or virtual routers. If you are using olive(s) instead of real routers, you can use vmware and create all the olive routers on one PC and if you have a “real” router, you can set up many logical routers on one chassis. Because we had a bunch of old p3 PCs laying around and access to a couple M10s, my co-worker built our lab with 5 olive PCs and 2 m10s. On one of the M10s, we set up all the logical routers to act as CE and peer/tran routers.
Q: What version of Junos should I use to practice on?
A: The tests now use JUNOS 8.1, so that would be the best to practice on but it is not critical – most commands are available across most versions.
Q: How is the JNCIE-M exam different from the JNCIP?
A: The one thing that is critical in the JNCIE and not present in the JNCIP is troubleshooting. Because you start with an existing network instead of a blank slate, there is some cleanup that is needed to meet your objectives. Make sure that you know how to find, evaluate and fix network problems in addition to being able to configure the network. In particular, pay attention to IGP route sharing – like RIP to OSPF, OSPF to IS-IS, or IS-IS to RIP to OSPF and back to RIP, etc…
Q: How will I know when I am ready for the test?
A: This is a bit harder to judge for the JNCIE-M than it is for the IP because of the troubleshooting aspect. You should again strive to be able to complete all of the case studies in under 90 minutes each but evaluating your network discovery, verification and most importantly troubleshooting and correction skills is a bit harder. If you have strong experience in an operations environment, you should be ok for this part.
Good Luck! and remember, don’t panic!