Juniper MX Series — A Book Packed Full of Details

Following the Network Field Day 4 event, Douglas Hanks asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a copy of his book. Being an avid reader of technology stuff and wanting to learn a bit about Juniper, I was excited to begin pouring through this book. When Doug and I were chatting back and fourth on Twitter, he wanted to make sure that I gave this book an honest review. That is exactly what this article is.

IMG_0266This book, Juniper MX Series (O’Reilly), was written by network engineers, for network engineers. The engineers authoring this book are Douglas Hanks Jr and Harry Reynolds. Probably the most important thing a reader should do prior to purchasing this book is qualifying their skills to make sure they are the network engineers it was intended for. This book isn’t for the networking n00b, it is for Juniper engineers. I want to quote a key statement from the book’s preface to drive this point home.

After many hours of debate over Skype, it was decided that we should defer to other books when it comes to introductory material and keep the content of this book at an expert level. We expect that most of our readers already have their JNCIE or CCIE (or are well on their way) and will enjoy the technical quality of this book…

The authors’ recommendation is that readers already have their JNCIE or CCIE, or are well on their way. I would probably also add that the reader should already be very comfortable when working with JUNOS. This is not an introductory book. Readers won’t learn the details of OSPF, STP, IPv6 or 802.1q. This book is almost wholly focused on the MX Series, its Trio chipset, and the cools stuff that can be done with it.

Probably the first thing I need to do is qualify myself against the criteria in the preface. I am a CCIE, but my CCIE is in security. I have quite a bit of knowledge in other areas and would consider myself a good candidate for this book with one exception. That exception is that I have very little exposure to Juniper. Prior to reading this book, I actually went through the “JUNOS as a Second Language” process on Juniper’s Learning Portal. As you can imagine, I still had quite a gap to fill between my actual knowledge and the knowledge I should have had prior to taking on this book. Therefore, I wouldn’t consider myself the target audience of this book.

With the framework that I’m not a senior Juniper administrator, what did I think of the book? This book is very long, but very well written. I don’t think many engineers will pick it up and read it cover to cover (more than 900 pages). I think most would read the first two chapters and the ones that relate closely to the work (or studies) they are currently involved with. This isn’t a knock on the readability or anything, there is just a LOT of information in this book.

This book has very detailed content. I found this very refreshing. I’ve actually been trying to recall the last time that I read a Cisco book that had this level of detail. As an example of the level of detail I found, take a look at the image I posted on twitter about a week ago.

JuniperQoS

This book is generous with similar drawings to help articulate the the advanced topics it covers.

The final thing I would say about this book is that there is a a ton of configuration examples. While this book explains how the Trio chipset functions, it also has enough examples that it could almost be considered a cookbook as well. The examples are clearly stated and explained fully.

In conclusion, I think this book is a must have for its intended audience. The only caveat is that the intended audience is fairly advanced engineers. As stated in the preface, it does not repeat basic concepts or well known protocol concepts. Those concepts are repeated over and over again in many other networking books. This book is about fully utilizing the advanced functions found in the Trio chipset.

Articles by Others about the Juniper MX Series Book

Disclaimer: Juniper is one of the sponsors for Networking Field Day 4. Their sponsorship covered a portion of the cost of my travel and expenses associated with my attendance to this event. However Juniper, nor the O’Reilly publishing company provided me a copy of this book. Douglas Hanks Jr. personally provided me a copy of this book for review. He asked that in return I write an honest article about by thoughts on the quality and content. To protect blogging integrity, I am presenting no Amazon (or similar) affiliate for this product in this article. This article itself was written without any restrictions.  My opinions on this product are my own and are accurately reflected.

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About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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