UniFi -- centrally managed network devices
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated November 30, 2019

UniFi -- centrally managed network devices

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
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Overall Satisfaction with Ubiquiti Networks UniFi

We use UniFi network equipment at all of our two dozen locations. UniFi provides what they call a 'controller,' which acts as a central hub to which all of our network equipment reports. This means that from a single dashboard we can manage network equipment and settings across all of our locations. Features include offline device alerts (if an AP goes down, admins receive an email immediately), a dashboard to view usage across all sites, a central dashboard to adjust settings at individual sites, and the ability to restart devices and POE ports remotely from a web interface or phone app.
  • Central dashboard: From a single web page or phone app, admins can monitor and adjust network devices and settings even when off-site.
  • Central controller: No need to log into individual network devices, all UniFi devices report back to a single controller.
  • Fair to low-cost equipment: UniFi hardware is very reasonably priced. It is much lower in terms of cost than most peers.
  • $0 license for controller: The central controller (management interface) has no cost. This is without comparison as competing platforms charge large sums for monthly licensing.
  • Supports any size network: Anything from a SOHO up to an enterprise with hundreds of separate physical locations across regions can be managed with a single UniFi controller allowing a single dashboard for the entire group of networks.
  • Well supported hardware: Controller and device firmware frequently updated to add features and address industry-wide security changes.
  • Learning curve: It takes some time and practice to grasp the concepts and implementation behind the UniFi controller and device adopt/provision approach. Bench testing with multiple demo sites is advisable before a real deployment.
  • Fewer features than some competitors: The UniFi platform does not have all of the features that some competitors provide. UniFi charges $0 in licensing for the controller, but competitors charge large amounts of money for their controllers.
  • Relatively limited hardware options: As compared with competitors, the UniFi hardware product line does not have as many options as some competitors. Depending on a location's needs, this could be limiting.
  • Positive: proactive visibility to offline devices. The IT team sees outages immediately before a support call.
  • Positive: much lower cost firewalls and access points.
  • Positive: visibility on each individual site allows simpler consistent network configuration.
  • Positive: remote support and updates from controller avoid time and mileage for site visits.
  • Negative: basic (non-PoE) switches cost more than an unmanaged (non-smart) switch, though UniFi's allow port level VLAN tagging and other advanced features.
  • Negative: the central controller must be online constantly for most advanced features (guest portal, VPN, etc.).
No matter how many sites or network devices we add, we have a single control dashboard. Therefore, every device has the same settings interface, and settings can be provisioned from anywhere. Setting up the controller and joining devices to it is not difficult after a couple of hours of practice. This pays off over time as upgrades and additions can be done with a few clicks. Replacement devices are automatically provisioned with settings for the site, so a new AP or switch falls into line with everything else very easily.
Chat support is available through the UniFi controller. The controller is free, so this means support is free. There is also a very active community and forum on Ubiquiti's website, and also on Reddit and other third-party communities.
Several times now I have encountered an issue and reached out to chat support, only to be linked up with an actual UniFi engineer. This has led to resolutions for any issue I've encountered. It's clear that Ubiquiti is interested in helping customers -- they recognize that fixing an issue encountered by a user not only helps that user, but also makes their UniFi product line more useful to all.
One way of looking at network equipment is by grouping all into two categories: Standalone, and Centrally Managed.
Most home or SOHO network equipment is standalone, meaning each device is configured individually. If you need to adjust settings off-site, you need to allow it through a firewall or pay for some remote access system. There is no comparison with this type of network equipment since managing standalone devices at multiple sites quickly becomes unmanageable. UniFi is geared towards centrally managing multiple sites.
As for other central management solutions, most others charge many times more for each piece of equipment and much more for the central controller. Since UniFi provides the central controller (and API) for free, it is an easy choice for many use cases. For very large businesses or customers with very specific advanced needs, UniFi might not support certain features out of the box. But for the cost and ease of use, it's definitely worth checking out and testing!
UniFi is a great product line with very powerful software behind it. Aside from the hardware cost, there is no ongoing charge to use the platform. The controller software can be run on a customer-owned computer (anything from a Raspberry Pi up can run it, Windows, macOS, and many Linux platforms are supported). UniFi does provide hosting options for a monthly charge, but it is not difficult or unwieldy to host your own.
UniFi allows businesses to grow smoothly, whether it involves adding network devices at a single location or adding separate physical locations. All of this can be managed from a single dashboard from anywhere in the world. This helps to expedite issue resolution, prevent issues, and save time for updates to existing networks.
There are other product lines like UniFi available, but they all charge much money for hosting the central control dashboard, and most charge many times as much for each hardware component. There may be a slightly larger learning curve for UniFi than competitors, but it's not much different in concept.
Ongoing support and updates help keep the product line secure and current!