Well, here we are. A few months after I took the JNCIE-ENT Alpha exam, I’m back in Sunnyvale for the real thing. I’ve been labbing quite a bit for the last few weeks (probably should have been much longer), focusing on tasks that I recall being on the Alpha. I did a ton of studying for the BGP section, knowing it was the only one to survive the butchering from the Alpha in its entirety, and being worth the most points on the exam.
The proctor actually got the other two guys set up before me, one was doing the JNCIE-SP and the other the JNCIE-SEC. I started my exam at approximately 9:30 am. Unlike last time, when we were in an open classroom with laptops, this time we were in a small room with cubicles and desktops with ancient monitors and not much newer keyboards. Also on the desk was a cup of pens, many of which barely worked. Hopefully Juniper is able to improve on this in the future!
About an hour into the lab, the proctor brought in a USB stick containing PDFs of the relevant documentation. Problem is, using Secure Desktop, we weren’t able to view the contents of the USB stick. Over lunch, he loaded the PDFs onto our desktops while we were eating. Yes, this means we had to work with zero documentation for 2.5 hours of the lab! I know Junos has the documentation available via the ‘help’ command, but finding what you’re looking for isn’t always intuitive. There were a few tasks that I knew I was going to have to look up the commands for, I was unable to do until after lunch.
I also ran into an issue with my virtual-chassis. Somehow after pre-provisioning my VC and rebooting, my switches decided to split-brain. I worked with the proctor for a good 30 minutes or more trying to troubleshoot, with a solution finally coming in via email from the cert team after they had somebody log into my pod.
Up until they were able to determine what the problem was, I had assumed it was a configuration error. All of the interfaces were up, everything seemed normal, but one of my tasks was simply not working. I spent probably 20 minutes trying to fix it before I even went to the proctor. (Yes, I normally would have just skipped it, but it was a task that despite being only 2 points was absolutely critical for the rest of the exam).
I made up some time on the IGP section, as the OSPF tasks were fairly simple. The first half of the BGP section also went by rather quickly, as I was able to lab most of the tasks recently during my study period.
I burned though the CoS section since it was very short, very easy, and worth a lot of points.
The protocol independent routing section took me FAR too long. This seemed to be a recurring theme. Tasks taking longer than they should, configurations not working as I’d expected, etc. Near the end of my exam, the proctor asked me if I was just verifying my work now, and I laughed. I wasn’t even 3/4 of the way through at that point!
All in all, I’m 99% sure I failed. I finished a couple of the bigger multicast tasks, but didn’t have time to properly verify. If I did those right, then… maybe.
I was pleased with the exam itself, for the most part. Especially after being very critical of it after the alpha. There still seemed to be a bit of wonkyness with some of the tasks – things not being worded well, or well explained. I think the biggest complaint I’d have overall is the lack of documentation for far too much of the exam.
However, I was told that I was the first person to take the real JNCIE-ENT (non-alpha/beta, that is), so there were bound to be kinks. I was asked to take a lot of notes for them as I went. I will say this… if I don’t pass, I’m not re-taking this for at least a good 6 months. Hopefully by then the kinks will have worked themselves out. The proctor said himself that with it being this new, the solutions to issues come very slowly because they aren’t yet familiar with the exam and the topology.
In summary, I’m happy with the exam. It’s challenging, but very fair. I still don’t care for the diagrams (even after they updated them), and some of the “housekeeping” needs work, and the facility itself could really use a bit of a refresh. But it was a good experience, I’m happy I did it, and (eventually) I look forward to another try.
Since grading is done manually…twice… (once by the proctor, and again by the cert team.. grading script not written yet), it could be a few weeks before I get word of pass/fail, but unfortunately I already think I know the result…