The Junosphere Experience, Part One – Getting Access

Late last year, Juniper Networks announced a phenomenal service called Junosphere. It’s, essentially, a cloud-based platform for device and network emulation. For those familiar with Dynamips/GNS3, Junosphere is very similar only hosted by Juniper and fully supported by JTAC. This article describes my experience with Junosphere.

Note
Please stop reading this article now if you expect to read general vendor love or hate. Please keep on reading if you are an average person, who wishes to try out Junosphere by yourself and on your own. Your experience may vary.

Warning
I started writing this article as an upbeat, supportive article for a service I was hoping would be awesome. It may deteriorate into a full-blown rant at some point. You have been warned.

First off, let me give you some background to set the stage. I am not a Juniper customer nor a partner. I don’t work for a Juniper customer nor a partner. I’m in no way affiliated with Juniper, other than the satisfaction of my curiosity and expanding the knowledge. As such, I was thrilled with the opportunity to use this great platform to learn about Juniper’s contribution to the networking world.

Making a purchase

On February 3rd this year, I learned that I Junosphere can be directly purchased from Juniper using a credit card. I was beyond myself with happiness and I immediately headed over to Juniper’s website to make a purchase. The choice was not an easy one. They offer two modes of access. I will provide below the exact description of both, as available from Juniper.

Here is the link for reference: https://learningportal.juniper.net/juniper/user_activity_info.aspx?id=5735

Product Name Part Number Description
Junosphere Classroom JUS-CLASS-10VM-1 A unique service offered from the Junosphere cloud, Junosphere Classroom enables you to cost-effectively educate students, employees, or partners on the principles and operation of Junos OS, routing protocols, and networking in general. Junosphere Classroom allows you to create virtual networking labs that provide students with full hands-on access to Juniper’s state-of-the-art commercial networking technology, without the expense of building or maintaining your own physical lab.
Junosphere Lab JUS-LAB-10VM-1 Junosphere Lab is a first-of-its-kind offer from Juniper Networks that can reduce the costs of network planning and modeling by as much as 90%. Junosphere Lab provides a virtual environment where you can create and run elements and networks running the Junos operating system. You can use these networks to design your network; test new features, protocols or topologies; train new employees; and many more possibilities.

I read the choices and descriptions several dozen times and they never made any sense to me. For some odd reason, “Junosphere Lab” made a little bit more sense, even though the descriptions for both are useless at best. Next choice was choosing the quantities.

Junosphere is sold in terms of “virtual machine days”, with the minimum quantity being 10 of those days, or a quantity of “one”. From earlier discussions with fellow networkers and social media, I knew that one day means “a single VM running for 24 hours”. Luckily, Juniper also offers a scaling formulas to determine the quantities you may need. Here they are, as shown on the website:

  • To create a 10 node network with access for one day, order quantity 1 (10 /10 * 1).
  • To create a 30 node network with access for 5 days, order quantity 15 (30/10 * 5).
  • To create a 2 node network with access for 10 days, order quantity 2 (2/10 * 10).
  • To create a 100 node network with access for one day, order quantity 10 (100 /10 * 1).
  • To create a 30 node network with access for one month (30 days), order quantity 90 (30/10 * 30).
  • To create a 10 node network with access for one year, order quantity 365 (10/10 * 365).

I could’ve been just tired or confused when I was making my decisions, but I had a feeling that using a different logic in each calculation doesn’t help novices. Naturally, I decided to go with the smallest possible quantity. I proceeded to by 10 VM days (quantity 1) of Junosphere Lab for a total price of $50 (local sales tax may apply in some cases).

Purchase went smoothly and I almost instanteously got a confirmation e-mail that sometime in the next two weeks, Juniper will process my order. It does say so in the pre-order screens, but only at this point it struck me. An incoherent train of thought went through my head like this: “Two weeks? Seriously? For an online order? For a service developed in 2011 and sold in 2012? Wow!”. In any case, that was it.

Juniper CSC Account

In order to get access to Junosphere, one must have Customer Support Center account with Juniper. I was under the impression I had an account registered with Juniper, since I needed to have one to get my certifications. Apparently, I was wrong, since CSC and Juniper Learning accounts are not the same. There is a nicely outlined procedure on the website one can follow to register for the account. I followed it couple of days after my initial purchase and registered for the guest account. For the next few days, an absolute silence followed until I started complaining on Twitter.

Juniper Support
As a side note, I have to commend Juniper’s tech support. Both JTAC people and few managers and engineers who reached out to me on Twitter and e-mail to resolve my issues after voicing my concerns about the Junosphere purchase process.

You people have been fantastic. However, the fact that I needed your assistance at all for a relatively simple purchase, speaks volumes.

After couple of days, I finally got confirmation that my CSC account was ready and that I can go ahead and start using it. Of course, it didn’t work. There is a kind of a chicken-and-the-egg situation here. In order to use Junosphere, you must have an account. In order to open an account, you need to have a supported service. At this stage, I only paid for the service, but haven’t received a product (for the lack of a better word), yet. That required another day.

Strong suggestion: if you wish to have a pleasant Junosphere experience, make sure you arm yourself with a lot of patience, or even better an existing CSC account.

I should also point-out that at all times, Juniper assumed I was affiliated with some company. They couldn’t quite grasp the idea that I was making a purchase as an individual, for individual use. In the end, my account ended up belonging to IPEXPERTS (sic).

Junosphere Access

The day after my initial CSC ordeal, I received the activation codes for Junosphere, with the instructions how to proceed. Only at this point, I realized that I may have made a mistake in my steps. I should have waited for this e-mail, before I started the process of opening the CSC account. It makes a little bit more sense doing it that way. I was hoping to speed things up a little bit and may have caused a confusion with what appears to be a very new and somewhat unpolished process anyway.

The instructions in the activation are relatively simple. One goes to the web page and either registers for the CSC account and during that process enters the codes, or logs into a CSC account and adds them there. In my case, the process involved calling JTAC, again. After couple of hours on-and-off the phone, I was all sorted out and I was able to log-in to Junosphere.

Follow the Instructions
To everyone: Read your Junosphere access instructions carefully, or you may waste a lot of time trying to log-in to www.junosphere.net. That’s a wrong place. The correct one is www.junosphere.net/mainui.

To Juniper readers: please fix that – it’s silly.

Only at this stage the process began to be a bit clear, since only at this point I received the links to the documentation. I was able to access the Junosphere and start playing around. That part was also a bumpy ride. More about it in the next article.

She was also quite upset about all this. For couple of days, whenever my phone rang She would say “Juniper again? Why don’t you just give up?”. I almost did, but I’m glad I didn’t.

  1. Is junosphere available for individuals? I wish to try junosphere, but I donot work for juniper partner or juniper.

  2. FYI: Classroom is meant to be sold w/ educational materials. At THIS point, there is no functional difference between classroom and lab, but just so you know, that’s what the difference is.

    • The problem is, neither of the descriptions gives me enough technical details to make an informed decision. I assumed what you wrote above and went with the option I thought gives me more flexibility.

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