Should You Trust a Business Deployment With UniFi Ubiquiti? [YouTube Release]

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:stopwatch: Timestamps :stopwatch:
00:00 :arrow_forward: Should You Trust a Business Deployment With UniFi Ubiquiti
01:23 :arrow_forward: UniFi Consulting & Problems We Find
03:27 :arrow_forward: Larger Projects
05:42 :arrow_forward: UniFi Alternatives
07:30 :arrow_forward: Real Issues
08:22 :arrow_forward: Failure Rates

#Unifi #networking

i totally agree with you Lawrence. We run a lot of business with ubiquiti here in the german | austria | swiss (short DACH) area with no issues ( from small installations up to 600 aps and 200 switches 1 customer) . the controller is stable. Only the ssh console is mhm, arrrgghhh. i personally also run enterprise pro and lite switches and aps. only the firewall (UDM) is a peace of crap :slight_smile: also use a bunch of different firewalls like: sophos, fortigate and OPNSense.

I’d be curious for you to try out the Grandstream and FS access points. Then provide your take on how they compare to the UniFi APs. You could also throw one of the FS switches into the mix as well for a complete package with FS. Obviously testing these things out takes time though.
As always thanks for sharing your knowledge and opinion, and disclosing your bias.

Here’s how our year looked…

We deployed around $200k of Ubiquiti hardware split between Airmax, Edge, and UniFi. We regularly rip out aging UI devices and replace with new, not because they are broken but because the newer devices offer more features/speed/etc. We have shot Airmax PtP and PtMP over 40-80 acres with great success. Our single failure was a Nanobeam 5AC that filled with water.

We don’t use any UniFi routing equipment in SMB, only Edge products (i.e. ER4). We have been using quite a few UDM/UDM-PRO in homes and people love them for the single pane of glass to manage their house.

We deploy Fortinet across all SMB customers and use either a CloudKey or Hostifi setup (used Tom’s promo code to sign up).

Ubiquiti makes some solid gear when used in the correct environments. While I’ve had a few more failures than I’d like, their products have worked well for home and small business installs overall.

That being said, there are some important points to consider before going all in on UniFi.

For one, despite their claims, I would not consider any of their products enterprise-grade. Just because it’s housed in an enterprise-like rackmount aluminum enclosure, doesn’t mean I’m installing it in a large hospital, school, etc.

I have also had a small number of clients outgrow the UniFi environment quicker than they would’ve liked. It’s not so uncommon to see Ubiquiti products installed by someone with good intentions, only for the company to later request something that UniFi isn’t capable of.

Another downside is Ubiquiti as a company. I often get asked by people who are considering their products if they’re a reputable company.

My honest answer would be no.

Making decent products does not make a company reputable. Ubiquiti has developed an unfortunate reputation of being secretive about the future of its products, abandoning products, constant name changes to product lines and some strange marketing tactics.

As much as I dislike licensing and fees from companies like Cisco, I can call them a reputable company. Not to mention how much better their support is.

With all that said, this has just been my general disclaimer about Ubiquiti when I’m asked. I understand my experience may not be the same as everyone else, but it has led me to come to these conclusions.

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I’d say Ubiquiti have their space, just like the others Cisco, Aruba, Arista etc. I think Cisco’s SMB offering is interesting and viable if you’re under the 25 device limits if licensing is the issue.

For me Arista made an announcement for their CUE range along with the Untangle acquisition earlier this year, but haven’t seemed to have penetrated the SMB space much. More so when enquiries are made about the products and pricing, no response.

I think the let down re Ubiquiti for me is their warranty, yes we talk about low failure rates etc. It’s the 2 year warranty if you buy from us, but only a year if you buy from one of our partners. Why the differences. I think HPE and Cisco’s limited lifetime warranty on their switches is nice and having had HPE replace an old ProCurve switch that was very old was a pleasant surprise a number of years back. Yes the replacement delivery time was best endeavors with no SLA etc. In the UK currently a 24 port PoE Unifi switch is currently more expensive than a Cisco CBS-350 offering or HPE Aruba Instant On 1930. I’d take the Cisco.

Aruba missed the opportunity when they offered cloud only for the Instant on products. With Cisco if you install the CBD you can host locally or run in Azure etc.

No different to other IT kit, I’ve seen a HPE MSA 2060 fail drives a fair amount this year, purchased in 2021.

Community wise I agree there is a much stronger community for Ubiquiti over the others, which again is a shame.

Ubiquiti however seem to also go off on random tangents re other products stacks. Lights, EV stuff, doorbells and so on. Really. If the effort and resources was used to further polish their networking solutions, I think that’d be a very good thing.

What is key with all vendors regardless… If the install is poor then the solution will be poor, whatever the vendor. I’ve worked at previous companies were the Cisco install re Wi-Fi has been shocking, down to poor MSP choices and lack of understanding from internal IT staff.
Large UK company two /16 subnets on VLAN 1 with everything in that VLAN. VOIP, clients, NFS, vMotion the lot. Again lack of care and understanding from previous and current internal IT staff. It was unpicked and correctly done, but wasn’t fun trying to sort when it’s a production environment. Circa 1000 devices for 400 staff all sloshing around in a single VLAN.

Here is Illinois we installed about 70 locations with Unify Switches and Access Points. For the routers we have been doing Protectli vault fw4b with Untangle, pfSense, or OpenSense. And some of the larger locations a real Netgate appliance. We configured lots of office to office VPN for satellite and actually some companies had us install in homes of remote workers to create a secure extended work network. Most of this work was due to offices reducing square footage and working more with remote locations due to covid.

As for management of the networks some deicide to self host and others went with cloud hosted. I rarely hear a peep from the customers and they have been very happy with the reliability and performance of their network / applications. We always leave very good documentation with the clients and advise them on what they would be able to configure without consulting us.

I know there are many that say “Enterprise” but looking how companies aren’t doing gigantic office complex builds anymore and moved to a distributed model Unify fits right in.

Hi Tom,

What’s your take on Ubiquiti vs TP-Link/Grandstream? Are TP-Link and GrandStream viable alternatives to Ubiquiti, in terms of firewalls, switches and APs?

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The Unify hardware is solid, switches and access points that is, but their controller software is still split between two versions and behind on the current Java version. The latter can create problems when installing the controller ater searching for the on prem version. Seems they are starting to shift towards proprietary and perpetual fees. Just seeing some red flags. Now looking more to Arista and Grandstream and have had success with Mikrotic switches. As to the other products from Unify all are lock ins to their ecosystem and that is a no for many SMBs.
Firewall/router choice is still pf-Sense and will be at the top for the foreseeable future, it just works. The same goes for TrueNAS. If it aint broke don’t fix it.

I’m trying to setup a couple of Unifi deployments for my family in the area. Does anyone know a good way to manage all these devices spread across different sites? I would put a pi everywhere, but you can’t get those easily right now.

Well there are some installs you can do without a controller just the mobile app. I configured a AP at my mom’s house last year using that method.

https://crm.bizsyscon.com/knowledge-base/article/unifi-setting-up-a-unifi-access-point-in-standalone-mode#:~:text=UniFi%20-%20Setting%20up%20a%20UniFi%20Access%20Point,code%20on%20the%20back%20of%20your%20AP%20

1 Like

I will try to sum up all the answers to the above questions here.

  • I have compared UniFi and TP Link TP Link Omada and Unifi compared - YouTube I don’t really have time or the intrest right now to test out Grand Stream.
  • I have not seen any compelling evidence Ubiquit is going to start charging for their UniFi controller software.
  • @kb03 can you offer some more details of what features were needed by your clients that have “outgrow the UniFi environment” ? I know and as I said in the video UniFi is not the solution to all problems, but I am curious what common issues you have run into and if they are the same as the ones we have had as well.
  • @GeorgePatches I will be doing a new video soon about hosting the controller somewhere such as Linode. If you are looking for something more turnkey there is also HostIFi
2 Likes

I’ll keep an eye for that video. HostIfi is too expensive for a home gamer like me. Has anyone tried Cloud Unifi? $15 a month a could maybe swing if it’s easy to use.

The most common is the limitations of the UniFi firewalls. All things that you have already covered in previous videos. Advanced VPN configs, policy-based routing (which it looks like may now be a thing but still limited), better management of multi WANs, etc.

I also had a client that requested for a UniFi AP to be set up to authenticate via 802.1x, which is not supported (or at least was not at the time). Note that they wanted the AP itself to be authenticated, not to be confused with a device on the network.

There have been a few instances where I have had a client run in to one of these limitations, and have to deal with faulty piece(s) of hardware at the same time. In most of these cases, the clients chose to replace their Ubiquiti gear with a different brand overtime as network upgrades were needed, slowly phasing out Ubiquiti altogether.

I also want to clarify that I have no problem with the fact that Ubiquiti gear is not enterprise - in and of itself. My criticism was that they claim to be enterprise, when they are not. I think non-enterprise/prosumer gear can work great in the correct environments.

Apologies for the late response BTW… was not checking the forum over the holidays.