So we have already covered enterprise wireless solutions and one of the options outlined was Ubiquiti. They are my personal choice when it comes to wireless, this is due to a lot of things however mostly the software based controller. So lets have a look at some different ways we can run the controller…..
Local configurations are the default and most basic type of controller installation. This type simply involves having the Ubiquiti controller running on a PC or Cloud Key (Covered later on) 24/7. The access points on this local network can then detect the controller running and “inform” back to it automatically with no physical intervention.
This is the middle ground between a local and an external installation. You follow all of the same steps for a local installation however you simply have to enable “Cloud Access”, this lets your controller communicate with your Ubiquiti account. You can then login to view your controller at unifi.ubnt.com and use your Ubiquiti account details to log in. This will give you full control of your wireless controller, however you MUST be using Google Chrome for the controller to be displayed. This method will work with the ubiquiti cloud app.
Local with full external remote access
This solution is usually the best way to do things if you have the time and know what you are doing. For this solution you need to have a local controller set up, you can then port forward the relevant Ubiquiti ports (These can be found on the Ubiquiti website) and type in your external IP or hostname as a https:// connection using port :8443, so for example https://unifi.michaelhosker.net:8443.
For this you do exactly the same as the local controller with remote access however you have to set the access points to “Inform” back to the remote controller. So for example I could have 2 sites, one in Liverpool and one in London, first I have to choose where I want the controller to be running lets say Liverpool and then once I have made it accessible from London using the IP or hostname e.g. https://unifi.michaelhosker.net:8443, I can then set the access points at London to “Inform” back to that hostname or IP of the Liverpool controller.
The cloud key is basically a controller pre loaded onto a machine, however that machine does not have a desktop environment nor a keyboard and mouse. It connects to your network using a single Ethernet cable and uses POE for power (You can use a micro USB for power instead). I would only recommend using a cloud key for local installations only, as if you have multiple access points hitting it all the time it is not going to be able to cope and will slow down.
Small Business and Home Users
If you want a controller for UniFi access points and have £75 to spare! Then the Cloud Key is probably your best bet.
Medium Business Users
If your business only has one or two sites then you could put a Cloud Key at each location and use cloud access. However do not try and do anything complex! Also do not use this method for sites with a large amount of access points.
Larger Business and Enterprise Users
For bigger businesses and enterprises with more than a few sites you will need to have a server with the controller running at one location and then have access points “inform” to that location.