Juniper, the challenger to Cisco in the service provider core routing and enterprise networking markets is making its boldest move yet to target the Cisco enterprise installed base. It is offering free training to Cisco certified professionals worldwide to become Juniper-certified.
The program ends December 2007 and is aimed at Cisco Certified Network Associates, Cisco Certified Network Professionals, and Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts.
Called the Junos Enterprise Routing Certification Fast Track, the program is an aggressive move by Juniper to increase its share of Cisco's stronghold - the enterprise market - into which Juniper made its debut three years ago. Juniper has struggled to make a profit in the enterprise space after spending a total of $5 billion acquiring several smaller companies.
Under the free training scheme, interested candidates are asked to contact Juniper or its partners for a "portal card," which could be either a physical card or an e-mail version, and has the URL for the portal. At the portal, participants can access the Junos as a Second Language (JSL) eLearning Course; material for the Operating Juniper Networks Routers in the Enterprise (OJRE) course; and the exam objectives of the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA-ER) certification.
According to Juniper, the 90-minute JSL program was designed for network engineers who are well versed with Cisco IOS and compares the similarities and differences between the two vendors' network operating systems. OJRE is a three-day instructor-led course that provides an introductory-level overview of installations, configuration and operational analysis of Juniper routers in the enterprise. The lab-based AJRE is a four-day instructor-led course that takes an advanced look at routing and services configurations on Juniper's enterprise routers.
Participants who pass the JNCIA-ER online pre-assessment exam will receive a voucher to take the practical exam at a Prometric Testing Center - for free. After successfully completing that, participants are then given another voucher to take the Juniper Network Certified Internet Specialist - Enterprise Routing (JNCIS-ER) exam - for free.
On its Web site, Juniper says it is offering the free training program because "networking professionals who achieve multiple certifications are now in greater demand than ever, commanding higher salaries and adding more value to high-end enterprises." It will be interesting to see how many Cisco-certified network pros take Juniper up on this offer. Perhaps this would be of interest to professionals with the lower-level Cisco certifications as this does present a good opportunity to branch out beyond Cisco. But for CCIEs, who have invested so much time and energy into Cisco, what would be the benefit of getting Juniper certs under their belts?