Many people have now asked me for advice on how to pass the JNCIE-SEC Exam, which is a great thing as it seems many people are working towards achieving the next level in their certification journey. This post will cover:
- Exam Objectives
- Studying Materials
- Additional Advice
In later posts I will discuss specific methods/techniques from those objectives.
A shout-out and thanks goes to CentraComm supplying many of the study materials/gear, as well as the terrific support and encouragement many coworkers provided throughout this journey!
So let’s first talk about what to study in order to prepare for the exam. Since this is a practical exam there is no single resource that covers every single aspect of the test. That being said, there are several books I would strongly recommend reading first in order to address 95% of the exam objectives:
- Advanced Junos Security (AJSEC)
- Junos Unified Threat Management (JUTM)
- Junos Intrusion Prevention System Functionality (JIPS)
- Junos Security from O’Reilly Media
One more important thing to know – be aware of what features are available for the version of Junos you are using! Right now the exam is set for 11.1, so things such as GRE tunnels in chassis clusters are not available. You can find those feature listings in either the Feature Explorer or the Feature Support PDF.
You will absolutely need to get at least 2 SRX’s of the same model in order to set up chassis clustering and understand all the options for the clusters. In addition one of the units needs to be a High Memory unit in order to test UTM functionality. Obviously, the more the merrier is recommended in this case. The additional benefit of using the branch series is that they are extremely portable. I could fit my equipment into my carryon bag, and with the right cables/powerstrips it was extremely easy to set up a new mock lab anywhere I traveled. My lab was as follows (picture below):
- 2x SRX-210’s
- 3x SRX-100’s
- 1x EX2200-C
The nearest testing site for me was in Herndon, Virginia so that required booking a flight. I actually left two days early to get situated in Herndon, and to get one last day of good studying in before the exam. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the plane landed several hours late due to storms! A 4-hour flight turned into an 8-hour ordeal due to the weather. Trying to get through an ordeal like that the day before the exam would have been extremely unpleasant, and add unnecessary stress to an already stressful exam.
In terms of how long to study, I did nothing but read for about a solid month prior to using the lab gear. The books mentioned above provided a good solid background to all the functionality inside the SRX’s. From there I would go through the exam objectives and create scenarios to reinforce understanding of a particular piece of technology. One of the important things to remember here is that building out complicated networks still require fundamental knowledge in the basics. For an example if you do not understand how to create/troubleshoot a simple VPN tunnel or how the SRX’s negotiate both phases of the tunnel, then you will struggle at this exam. If you don’t know how to perform a certain task, then take a look at the vast wealth available on the Internet. Here are a couple of sites that I would refer back to constantly:
- Exam Objectives
- JNCIE-SEC Google Group
- JNCIE-SEC Juniper Wiki
- Training, Certification, and Career Forum
- Stefan Fount’s Blog
- Chris Grundemann’s Blog – 13 Tips for passing Juniper Lab Tests
- The Path to JNCIE-SEC
Take your time when going through the exam, and make sure you review your configurations after you have completed the exam. Even after reviewing my configs there were still minor errors that would have cost dearly on the final scoring.
Lastly, ask the proctor questions if you’re unsure of what is required on an objective. The proctor will not be able to tell you the answer if you are stuck at a certain point, but they can provide valuable guidance on what needs to be done in your configurations.
Hopefully this will help you in your journey to achieving the JNCIE-SEC certification. Feel free to ask questions here, and stay tuned for more posts on how to configure many of the objectives for this exam.