Network upgrade slowly

Hello all, Quick question been looking at upgrades to my network. I wanted to start out by just adding a switch at first and than will add more later. I was looking at the UniFi Switch PRO 24 to start out with… The question I have is do you have to get a Cloud Key for this ? Later I going to replace my router with something that uses pfsense and also get the Unfi wireless access points.


Short answer? Yes

Long Answer? Not really.

The controller only need to be online for stat gathering and changes. It can also be run from a Windows PC, docker, or a VM. No reason you couldn’t run it on Windows, then migrate to a cloudkey when you get the Access Points if you want.

To expand on @gsrfan01’s answer.

You need to connect it to a controller to set it up and to make any changes as well as if you want any sort of logging / monitoring. However you have serval options for controllers (again, as per gsrfan01) and migrating from any one controller to another is really straighfrorward.

Options for a controller depend a bit on what you have running. Obviously, Dream Machine / DMP, CloudKey (gen2, gen2+) are options but have a one off cost implication. If you have a local VM setup then run up a Deb/Ubuntu server and install the controller. If you have something that runs docker (NAS box maybe?) then there are docker instances available. Got a linnode account? Fire a VM up there with a public IP (and some firewall rules) and connect your devices to that. Alternatively, install it on a windows PC either as a service or just fire the controller up when you need to make changes.


out of the box it will work as a dumb switch if all you want is to connect all of the ports to all of the other ports so if you don’t need it to do anything more than that then you could just plug it in for now

The Unfi line is designed to work within a centralized management system. Meaning you’ll need the controller software (self hosted on a pc, cloudkey, etc) to do the initial adoption and setup, and to make any subsequent changes. People find this attractive as it makes things easier. One interface for multiple devices. However, it can also get you into a vendor lock, where if you want to add a non-unifi device, even by ubiquti you’ll have to use another wed interface. For instance their edge line uses UNMS.

These devices can run without a controller, you just wont have the stats or interface to look at when the controller is offline. You can use something like hostifi.

Personally, I ditched a unifi stack for opnsense, hpe/aruba switching, and aruba and grandstream wireless. Never looked back. Things go so smooth, I forget about my network.

Thank you everyone for your reply!

So been looking at different Brand and I narrow it down to the following for a switch | Unfi | Aruba | or last MikroTik. The more I research the more option I find my self looking at… but I guess how that goes in the networking world.

Those are all extremely different market segmets.

Unifi is SDN and sits pretty firmly in the prosumer / SMB space. I’d maybe toss it in a school at the most.
Arruba is generally in the enterprise space, but a bit on the entry side of things
Mikrotik practically runs the entirety of the 3rd world, they’re great but a little odd to configure because of where they’re designed.

What features are you looking for in a switch? Looking to learn or just to plug and play with easy configuration?

I love network stuff… That being said I work for ISP and work with Cisco Me3400 switches / Cisco 15454 , Juniper, Cyan and Ciena gear I list all that to say I don’t mind learning new CLI/GUI. I know my way around Cisco command line and willing to put time in to learn the things I don’t know . I just looking to upgrade my network because right now I just have the Cable modem for my 1GE internet and the Asus RT-AC5300 router. I have 3 Raspberry Pi 4 / ITO devices and a couple computers.

What I want from my network.

  • Looking for switch with at least 24 ports.

  • Want Poe so that I can hook up AP/ Cameras at some point.

  • Also want 10GE ports so that I can make a 10GE backbone later. ( 2 min / 4 max)

  • Will be adding vlans to segment out the network.

  • Later will add a router/firewall that will use Pfsense.

Given all that, I’d lean toward MicroTik if you want new. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Brocade if you want used. Running an ICX 6610 (48 port POE, 2x 40gb QSFP+, 16g 10gb SFP+) and an ICX 7150 (12 port POE, 2 port 1gbe, 2x 10g SFP+).

If you’re looking for a 1 size fits all: CRS354-48P-4S+2Q+RM MikroTik 48-Port Cloud Router Switch 4x SFP+ 2x QSFP

24 Port variant: CRS328-24P-4S+RM MikroTik 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports 4SFP+ Port 802.3af/at switch

Thank you! Look like I should be going with MicroTik.

So I am going with the CRS328-24P-4S+RM my question to everyone is does anyone know of a trustworthy place to order said switch from? If anyone has great experience with a company I would love to give them some business…


If in the US, Baltic Networks and Streakwave are my go-to companies for anything they carry, which includes Mikrotik and Ubiquiti.

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Seconding Baltic Networks - only heard good things about them

Thank you very much :blush::relaxed: