NXTWORK 2015: The Recap

A couple of weeks ago I attended the inaugural customer summit that Juniper Networks put on called NXTWORK. I was excited to see that Juniper finally put on something like this here in the 'states, and it was well worth the wait!

Being part of their Ambassador program, I got to travel to their Sunnyvale HQ each year with the rest of the Ambassadors. This is awesome in itself, as we get a lot of private sessions with many different PLM's and people from all aspects of Juniper. But this year, they decided to wrap our Ambassador summit into NXTWORK...might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?

Kickoff

The event started on Monday, 11/2, with free (yes FREE) certification testing all day, and the welcome event in the early evening (more on the certification testing later). The event kicked off with CEO Rami Rahim doing the keynote. He's very easy to listen to/engage with, and his keynote speech was amazing!

Rami Keynote

Rami spoke a lot about how Juniper has been transitioning to focus on their three core areas: Routing, Switching, and Security - all while pushing the technology "envelope" in the data center and cloud.

One of the coolest things Juniper is doing on this front is disaggregating the Junos software.

"With disaggregated Junos software, IT organizations can turn on new features, functionality, and services as quickly as the demand arises." - Juniper Networks

Disaggretation of Junos

A lot more information and detail on disaggregation can be found here.

They also introduced a few new products as well. One of which is the new QFX5200 switch. These switches offer flexible scaling from 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE, 50GbE, and 100GbE all while not having to purchase new hardware to do so.

QFX5200

Welcome Reception

After the keynote, the welcome reception got started. There was a lot of good food (they had sushi!), good drinks, and even better company! I love taking part in things like this, cause it gives me a chance to meet and interact with so many new people. There are so many diverse technical backgrounds, so it's really wonderful to feed off of each other and help to share knowledge!

Ambassadors

A few of us extended the party well into Monday night, catching up and picking up where last year's Ambassador summit left off :)

Free Certifications

I thought this was one of the best parts of the summit, and it was an amazing gesture from Juniper to offer this to all of their attendees! It wasn't just limited to Monday either, as you could register and take exams up until 1 pm on Wednesday 11/4, the last day of the summit.

Free certifications

I decided to take (and pass) the JNCDA exam while I was there. This is the first one in Juniper's new design certification track. The exam was focused on overall network design, with only a few questions relating to Juniper products. I was impressed by the questions and scenarios that they posed, and I look forward to tackling more of the design track certs.

Breakout (Technical) Sessions

Juniper offered a wide range of technical sessions, everything from automation to zero-touch provisioning (ZTP)...A to Z...see what I did there? They had about a dozen rooms for the various sessions, and each one was about 40-60 minutes in length. I liked how they spaced the sessions out, and even repeated some of them in case you couldn't make one or had a conflict.

It was really nice to interact with the presenters (all Juniper employees and engineers). I could get technical with them if needed, and they didn't just wait for the slides to be over to answer questions...it was all very dynamic.

I love automation (as you can probably tell by some of my other blog posts), so I made sure to hit up as many of those sessions as possible. One of my favorite sessions was the one on EVPN, given by the awesome Doug Hanks Jr.! This was one I could have spent a couple hours in, at least :)

Doug Hanks

Ambassador Only Event

This was worth the trip in itself. We got a private hour-and-a-half session with Rami Rahim! It was very laid back and casual, and even got quite technical at some points. It was really something special to all of us to be able to communicate with him how we did. Providing feedback, getting a more in-depth look at how he views where Juniper is headed and what they are trying to achieve...truly awesome.

Breakfast with Rami

Wrapping Up

I can't say enough good things about this event, especially for being in it's infancy. I think Juniper has started something great, and it will only get better as the years go by. I'm looking forward to more technical sessions the most, as well as a few longer ones.

Their Social Media Lounge was really cool, giving attendees a place to sit, relax, and Tweet about everything going on (#NXTWORK). I was quite busy, and you can see a lot of what I did over on my Twitter account.

Hard to think that I have to wait a whole year before enjoying this again. But, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out on December 18th...I'll have plenty of things to keep me busy until then ;P

NXTWORK 2016