Networking Gurus: Small Biz Wifi + Ubiquity

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by A.Goldberg, May 16, 2016.

  1. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #1
    Hi Everyone,

    I am a partner in small business that recently started up roughly 6 months ago. We have a renovated, early 1900's 9,400 sq foot (2,350/floor), 4 level brownstone building. At our max were expecting to have about 30-35 users max, some this possibly with multiple devices. I'm looking to expand our very rudimentary WiFi (currently a Comcast router + booster :rolleyes:) with a more sophisticated setup. I'm not an IT expert but I'd consider myself above average with computer knowledge, a fast learner, and an excellent researcher & problem solver.

    Is anyone here well experienced with the Ubiquity Unify line of access points as well as switches/routers? They have great reviews, seem very functional, and very affordable. If anyone would be willing to answer some questions for me that would be excellent.

    My idea was 1 access point per floor, perhaps 2 on the second floor to accomodate the layout of the building. Running Ethernet is no problem due to drop ceilings in hallways and HVAC unit closets located directly above eachother on each floor. Ubiquiti's PoE is a huge plus for us.

    Basically what I need answers for are suggestions on then following:
    - The most appropriate hardware choices (AP, router, switches)
    - How many AP's for 4 floors (2350sq ft/Floor) and 30-35 clients?
    - Multiple AP's with same SSID vs different SSID's, vs Zero Handoff?
    - WiFi channel selection, we're in the city and have A LOT of neighboring networks?
    - We ideally want a staff network and guest network, thus will need a controller Mac/PC- recommendations on these?
    - Is this way over my head? Or can I manage to get by setting this up some background skills, manuals, and support forums?

    We're well endowed, business is booming, but we're of course always looking to save money when possible. I'm not quite sure this is an area to skimp on myself considering this network is essentially as important for our clients as it is the staff, but I'm just one voice of 6. Sadly, A couple of my partners- incl the majority share holders don't understand that WiFi isn't just about range, but also bandwith and that $40 netgear booster won't cut it.

    I don't want to give out too many details of the business publically for privacy reasons, but am willing to talk via PM and provide more details of the nature of the business and our needs.

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #2
    I'm no expert on this, but AFAIK:
    - the more APs you place, the lower you can set their power-output (which should increase their longevity and also make your net less intrusive to the outside)
    - you only have one SSID and the APs hand-over the clients to the next best APs themselves
    - the Ubiquity-software can be run on any PC/Mac - or even an embedded platform
    - guest/staff should be no problem

    You might want to look for a company that has some expertise in this area. They'll also find the ideal locations (and the ideal number) of hotspots.
    You can probably manage to figure this out all on yourselves - but on your own time.
     
  3. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #3
    I run a small company, albeit in a few field offices, in addition to my own two personal residences. There's only two brands of access points (AP) that I consider now - Apple's own Extreme (residences) and Ubiquiti's APs. For my needs, those two companies offer products that just work, and I just can't see using a product other than Ubiquiti's offerings at my offices, except for one small office (it's a leased trailer) that utilizes an Extreme AC.

    IMHO, a REALLY detailed, good read is on Ars's web site: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015...-realize-how-terrible-consumer-wi-fi-gear-is/

    What I'm REALLY waiting to read are reviews on Ubiquiti's new Amplifi line of products, which were announced recently (http://www.slashgear.com/ubiquiti-amplifi-is-a-heavy-duty-wi-fi-system-for-homes-10439480/) - the Amplifi units are router/wifi units.

    I'm not an IT person, and don't have time to futz with stuff - so I'd rather purchase products that do not need to be futzed with. I don't have to futz with my Extremes or my APs.
     
  4. pjfan macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus OH
    #4
    You might consider AeroHive as well. The only brand (or at least use to be) of network Apple sold in stores.

    I bring this up primarily for the purpose of your "handoff" statement. Pretty robust system in my opinion.

    As for networks, I love Extreme. You aren't doing much with your network, so you won't have to worry too much for this specific building.

    Any of your choices will likely be easy, but Firewall is where you'll likely find your challenges :)
     
  5. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    The 6ix
    #5
    I recommend the Ubiquiti forums. My business uses two of their APs (converted 3 floor victorian house) and they work great, though we could use a third.

    I definitely think you're capable of doing this yourself, but expect to take a few days for research and installation.
     
  6. A.Goldberg thread starter macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    Thanks everyone for your help!

    I can't really find what the specific requirements are for the controller computer. All they say is Mac OS X. Do you happen to know how much the performance of the computer influences the performance of the network? All I can conclude on research is it must be Java and 64bit compatible.

    Yeah, that's a great point. I have a more than full time job elsewhere. This company is a side project of sorts, where I served as an investor and agreed to develop our program, policies and procedures. Now I find myself wrapped into the day to day stuff which isn't good. :rolleyes:

    Could you elaborate on this?

    Thanks for the encouragement. Which AP's models are you using?
     
  7. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    The 6ix
    #7
    We use Unifi AP
    https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap/
    as the extender (using EoP) and the AP-LR as the main router.

    The AP is on the 3rd floor and LR on the main floor.

    The connection strength sometimes leaves a little to be desired, but as the Wi-Fi is generally only used by clients (internal usage is over ethernet) I'm not too fussed to purchase more.

    As someone whose most advanced knowledge of networking was of AirPorts and ddwrt firmware until I started here four months ago, they're very easy to maintain, view users, have multiple networks (read staff/guest), etc.

    The controller is running on a late 09 mini (core 2 duo, 8GB RAM, HDD) and it runs very nicely, especially because that machine is a server for many other things too.

    At my previous job we set up some Meraki products on site for a startup (using about four floors of a building) and they seemed relatively easy to maintain as well.

    My only suggestion is to devote your time to this to do it properly.

    Another option would be to request a quote from a local IT company (my previous company did this regularly) for the hardware solution, and install yourself, assuming you have ethernet drops handy or ready to install.
     
  8. A.Goldberg thread starter macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    Thanks for the information and reassurance that this isn't so difficult, I really appreciate it.

    That's exactly what I'd like to do- do it right. It's my understanding the company that had this building before us had two AP's (a cheap Belkin and a $$$ Luxul on 2 separate comcast services, rather than running wire) throughout the entire building, and WiFi was consistently an issue. It's just matter of convincing my not so tech-savy partners that this is a necessity for our clients, not a luxury given what they're paying. So that's my biggest hurdle to get through first.

    The one saving the grace is that ethernet will be very easy to put in place thanks to suspended ceilings in the hallways and HVAC closets in the same place on each floor and next to our electrical closet in the basement. Getting hardlines and wall jacks into some of the offices would be a challenge because they have drywall ceilings, so that's a bunch more work. We do have 2 common areas with TV's, so I'm considering running lines to these areas for streaming media devices (i.e. apple TV)

    This building was gutted and renovated roughly 5 years ago... and not a single ethernet line was installed. It kinda blows my mind.
     
  9. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    The 6ix
    #9
    After a little further reflection, I definitely recommend at least getting a quote or two for the hardware.

    You're likely to be offered a complete solution, and might miss things if you do the shopping on your own.

    Also, while it's not the most honest, you can take the quote elsewhere to get a better price, or simply by the items directly.

    Somewhere like CDW would be a good option for the best prices.

    (I have no affiliation, they were in fact a huge rival at my previous job!)
     
  10. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #10
    Two bits, one relevant and one not...

    In my spaces, I installed an AE specifically for clients in our common areas - labeling the network IDing my company names and with the "client" tag at the end, so it would read "mycompany client wifi" and put an attractive small placemat (with my company logo strategically obvious!) under the AE with the network name and password on the placemat. And, I installed an AE centrally in my office space with the same network name, so when the clients move about the office, they're covered...

    I've been working in civil/construction engineering for about 25 years now, starting out with inspection services for a transit agency right after interning with Boeing (I worked for both the civil and environmental engineers there - LOTS of plumbing, pipes, and channeling). I've seen miles of ductbank and dozens of walls torn up to install new conduit. When I work on a project's design, I started offering installing conduit "futures" - "blank" or empty conduit and/or junction boxes with a pull string in bridges, along roadways, or alongside new conduit installations. I make sure I make that mention in front of the owner, and it's always accepted as a proposal - as little as a $1 per foot in buildings or up to about $10 per foot in specialized installations (shielded or coated/galvanized metal). I've never seen another engineer or architect or construction company make that same recommendation, and IMHO they won't get paid for the retrofit/rehab work when you need additional work (yeah, I've heard that line more than once in my career...). Good luck!
     
  11. caskibum macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    #11
    a bit necro on this thread, but... I'm currently evaluating the Unifi lineup for a customer, and I'm testing a USG (not the Pro but for an office I think the Pro is the way to go), a 24 port PoE switch (Unifi PoE, NOT TS), the Unifi Cloud Key, WAP and the UVP phone. I'm impressed, at the price point, it's a good deal.

    The phone, meh, it seems a bit too "early adopter" yet for a business. For your home, it looks like the coolest desk phone ever. Angry Birds on my phone? Oh, yeah! lol The WiFi is a well developed product with years of history. The USG and the switch seem pretty solid for newer products and the cloud key / controller are nice to work with.

    I'm a regular Cisco / Meraki guy and in an SMB office with the pocket depth to support it, you can't beat the Meraki product line. So if you can afford it, go Meraki. It's still better and the cloud controller is phenomenal. And you're from Boston so they are "home grown", straight out of MIT. :)

    If you're at the limits of your budget with the Unifi stuff, you're getting 80% of the product for 40% of the price and I'd say go for it. They look like they'll scale well and even multi-site decently.

    If you pull the trigger on UniFi, the first thing you should do is update to newest firmware, it is definitely a product in active development at the moment so the improvements from version to version are quite noticeable.

    If you would like to PM me to chat, feel free.
     
  12. flashy-cat, Jul 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2016

    flashy-cat macrumors regular

    flashy-cat

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Not an networking expert, but if you're using POE just be aware some (all?) of the Ubiquity gear uses non-standard 24V POE rather than the usual 48V. Means you have to use their line of POE switches to power their APs if you wish to use POE.
     
  13. caskibum macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    #13
    That's a great point, some Ubiquiti hardware used a proprietary 24V PoE. The new stuff is mostly 802.3af or at, and the Unifi switches support both 24V and the 802 standards, but read the spec sheets before ordering anything to make sure you're getting compatibility (and I'd stick to 802 standards hardware, more flexibility).
     
  14. ajsahi9211 macrumors newbie

    ajsahi9211

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2015
    Location:
    pakistan
    #14
    not more then one app is required and you have to use IP software to get success in sharply
     

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