Unifi with no controller?

Have you seen this before? I was fixing some Unifi sites recently and came across a company that was setting up Unifi APs and switches for people using a single controller in which each site was it’s own “site” in Unifi. BUT when they left they unplugged the controller and brought with them!!! Wow! Now that’s some customer lock in!

Unifi devices don’t need connection to a controller in order to function. Once configured, they work perfectly fine on their own. If you don’t care much about gathering statistics, you can disconnect / shut down the controller when you don’t currently need it to configure the devices. Think of the controller apps that you can install on a PC or smartphone; those don’t run 24/7 either.

Additionally, once adopted, Unifi devices can connect to the controller through the internet, i.e. the controller doesn’t have to be on the same network as the devices. Maybe that’s what this particular company is doing, maybe it isn’t (I don’t want to speculate on the legitimacy of their service).

@paolo Yeah, they don’t need the controller to run, but it’s nice to be able to change settings, debug issues, or update the firmware without someone else holding the controller hostage. Why not just use the app? I guess that may have been the plan all along so the clients couldn’t mess things up, but I am speculating.

I am not sure what they were doing before, and maybe like you say it was pointing to an instance available on the internet, but by the time I was involved that was not the case. It was literally a physical device at an individual’s home with no firewall ports open. I like all of my clients to have their own controller but that’s because I am one person and the world is full of busses. An MSP may host a controller with different sites and that is great. I just cant imagine driving around town with my laptop and a single hardware controller (used to be software installed on the laptop but that changed) doing maintenance. To each their own though.