This is part two of the miniseries if you’ve already read part one skip on down to paragraph 5. If you haven’t read part one you can find it here
Wait before you say it I know what you are thinking. “I thought this was a tech blog why is he talking about airplanes?” Or you could be thinking “What does this have to do with airplanes?” if you were looking for aviation related content. Well full disclosure here I’m also a student pilot with a passion for aviation that’s beyond measure, and this is my way of tying in the following I’ve built in that industry as well using the power of the analogy so bear with me. On a side note it’s not totally out of the question that you could find me in the pointy end of a shiny new jet one of these days flying you across the globe but let’s get into what we are really here for shall we?
Do me a favor and open up a different tab in your browser and perform a search with your preferred search engine using the title of this thread (or click the hyperlink) and read some of the discussions in the various forums. It’s aviation’s version of Chevy vs Ford, BMW vs Mercedes and in some cases Cowboys Vs Redskins. Now open one more tab searching this time for “Cisco vs Juniper” and you will see it’s well documented topic. This is my personal opinion on the debate if you will.
A few years ago Cisco dominated the market with hardly any competition and in some ways today that is still true. Much like Boeing in the earlier days of commercial aviation. Juniper has been around for some time but didn’t seem to catch on initially like Cisco. At least not on the tactical side of the house in the Army it didn’t, which is where I was working at the time. We had Netscreen ISG firewalls who are now owned by Juniper, but they were replaced pretty quickly with the Cisco ASA series of firewalls.
Today the race is a tad bit closer (a lot closer in the service provider segment) because Juniper has managed to eat itself into the market much like Airbus has done to Boeing. I personally know other engineers that are die hard supporters of one company, some that have no preference and occasionally I’ll run across a neither who’s usually a unix/linux person. As for what I prefer? Since I’ve worked pretty extensively with both I will cover this topic as a mini series of sorts this is part two and Juniper Networks is the subject.
Juniper, much like cisco, has hardware for just about anything you could imagine with the exception of a VoIP phone system. Their smaller lineup of switches consists of the and QFX series of switches which are loosely comparable to the 37/3800 series of Cisco switches. For the mid-tier Nexus comparison Juniper has the EX8200 series with the 8208 being a more direct comparison compared to the 8216. When it comes to carrier grade routing the MX960 is the King of the Juniper crop along with its little brother the MX480. Much like the CRS from Cisco the MX960 is overkill for anything short of a full on Service Provider, but they do not disappoint. You can read the MX960 specs in further detail here: http://www.juniper.net/documentation/en_US/release-independent/junos/topics/reference/specifications/mx960-physical.html. For security devices enter the Juniper SRX product line which are highly capable in their own might and I must admit a dream to work with. I’ll get into why later in the Operating System Portion.
Juniper, like just about all major vendors, has its own tiered system of certifications for their products as well called the Juniper Networks Certification Program. It’s my experience though that they aren’t yet viewed as the end all be all that the Cisco certifications are unless you’re working for a company with a heavy emphasis on Juniper. That may sound like common sense but I worked for an employer with a heavy balance of both and Cisco certs held more weight. Management at that particular company figured that you could adapt and learn the Juniper if you had the Cisco certs as a baseline, but Engineers that only had Juniper experience were rarely hired on. The JNCIA is Juniper’s associate level certification most closely matched with the CCNA. There’s a JNCIS-ENT and JNCIP-ENT for enterprise routing and switching that make up the professional tier of the certification track much like the CCNP. The JNCIE-ENT is the CCIE equivalent of the Network Engineering tract. Asked to make a recommendation I’d suggest to start with the advice in part one, stick with Cisco, and add Juniper as you progress in your career, or as you desire change later on. Choosing Juniper wouldn’t be wrong, there just aren’t as many pure Juniper roles out there right now but that is quickly changing. One former employer used an equal amount of Juniper while my current client is exclusively Cisco from top to bottom.
This one is pretty simple here. With a few exceptions, and I do mean a few, Junos is Junos. Meaning no matter what device you are in the commands are going to be the same. Router, Switch, Firewall it doesn’t matter the syntax is the syntax and that is why I said it’s starting to grow on me and they are a dream to work with. One subtle difference that comes to mind is show bridge mac-table (MX) instead of show Ethernet switching table (EX). Are there more, of course there is, but it’s not as many as with the multiple Cisco operating systems. Configuration changes on Juniper devices is a tad bit more tedious than Cisco, but it also will rarely allow a mistake. The commit check feature allows you to see whether your configuration will be taken and if it’s wrong you can’t commit the change period. Once you’re accustomed to the brackets, symbols and overall script like appearance the tediousness subsides as it becomes second nature. Also when utilizing the show route command in Junos you do not need to specify the specific routing instance, since they are all automatically displayed, whereas on Cisco you would need to add “vrf all” to the end of the syntax. It may seem trivial, and depending on your experience level it probably is, but it saves a little bit of time and makes it easier when the routing instance is unknown in the beginning.
Junos CLI pic borrowed from here
In part three I’ll get into why I like one vendor over the next, and provide more details about the Hardware and Operating systems of each.