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Buyer's Guide
Wireless LAN
July 2022
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Korey Rutherford - PeerSpot reviewer
Project Manager at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
MSP
Top 20
The Insight management tool lets you build a complex network even with limited formal knowledge
Pros and Cons
  • "The metrics demonstrate that NETGEAR really does a good job of balancing the load between the various access points on the networks and this results in an elimination of downtime."
  • "While the data throughput does provide us with full insight into data being used, we find that it's not very accurate."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use NETGEAR for home and office to allow internal network sharing among devices and people. It really is the backbone of the entire network. There is no need for servers or for other equipment beyond what we know is registered in the inside portal. As such, we just get a feed from our ISP and it goes directly into the access points. That's it.

The population for our use case is pretty small. While there are three or four employees who utilize the Insight access points concurrently, there are many more who make use of it throughout the day.

How has it helped my organization?

When it comes to remediation, we have rid ourselves of downtime. The metrics demonstrate that NETGEAR really does a good job of balancing the load between the various access points on the network and this results in an elimination of downtime. While a device may conceivably fail in respects to an access point that is in a different room or in a different part of the facility, there have been no instances in which we've been down without internet or network access. Prior to using the Insight access points, this was an issue every other week. 

I am also impressed by the speed and the feature range. It has allowed us to venture beyond the confines of the standard office space. 

Moreover, it is critical that the Insight Management solution saves us from needing to utilize additional cloud controller appliances, network managers, PC servers or to configure and manage our access points. Were this not the case, we would be left with the option of using home grade equipment. This would simply be too complex and require more maintenance than would be feasible for a business of our size.

Also, I use the Insight Management app on my phone. We occasionally utilize the internet portal for more complex concerns, although 99 percent of what I do is on the iPhone app. I am actually looking at it right now on YouTube. It's just great. It provides real-time changes, with real-time monitoring of what's happening and what needs to be changed. It's the way to go for sure.

Additionally, the solution provides live updates on network status and alerts us when there's an issue. Real time alerts are delivered via email and push alerts. We get emails whenever there's an issue on one of the access points on the network.

What is most valuable?

The configuration and monitoring have been very valuable features. When it comes to the pain points, the ability to monitor and address these is one of the best perks of the app. Setup becomes a breeze once you pass this stage. We only need to scan in a QR code for things to basically be set up.

Insight Management is extremely user-friendly and very relevant with the details that it gives. I'm not a trained IT person, but the layout of Insight or the capabilities of the Insight management tool have allowed us to build a pretty complex network with little formal knowledge on the topic, absent the need to conduct some internet research and follow the prompts.

Moreover, we can manage our entire network from anywhere in the world. This is important because there's no one else to do it. If something goes down or is not working, it's good to have the resources to know what the problem is and to have the ability to rectify it remotely. Since we don't have the onsite resources for engaging the services of IT people or consultants, the ability to be in command of the network and the access points from anywhere we wish is pretty valuable to us.

Furthermore, the throughput speeds are excellent. World-class throughput speeds with the WiFi Six is what we're using in all of our devices.

My impression of the user interface of the top tier version that we licensed is that it's very friendly, informative, and relevant. It has what we need to see and it's easy to access, maintain and monitor.

What needs improvement?

While the data throughput does provide us with full insight into data being used, we find that it's not very accurate. The numbers are just way off. I have already brought this up with NETGEAR Insight Access Points. As for the Insight portal and the Insight app, meaning the part of the app that allows you to see which clients are connected to the access points and how they're connected, these do not work at all. Although our main WiFi network has 50 devices on it, when we enter the app on the website it shows it to be zero.

When it comes to features needing improvement, the WAX610, WAC540 and the WAX610Y do not reliably stay online and this is especially true of the WAC540. This is why we have defaulted most of our traffic over to the SXR80 device, which is the company's newest and most innovative WiFi Six product. 

However, it has been months since the Insight app has acknowledged that there are access points connected to it. Unplugging and replugging it would only enable it to work for around fifteen minutes. It is constantly offline. Meanwhile, the 610s, which are simply the normal Insights, are terribly slow for WiFi six. As such, my praise for the Insight access points really must go to the SXR80 product. It has been phenomenal in every case.

I have four of the newer devices sitting under my desk right now. They plan to unplug the 610s. Since these are only three or four months older than the new SXR80s that have been introduced, I'm a bit disappointed that they're not as reliable and as fast as they should be. Fortunately, since we possess the proper tools and technological resources, we have mostly not been impacted by this. This is because we rely on the main SXR80 access points to a greater extent than those other access points and we consider these to be reliable and great to work with.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for at least a couple of years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability and its potential is great. One can segregate different WiFi networks so that they can simply access other things on the network. If I had the time, I would play around with it more and do such things as captive portals for guest networks, and make things more fancy. I feel confident in my abilities to do all kinds of things with relative ease, such as being able to segregate different WiFi networks so that they can simply access other things on the network.

As for usage, we are unlikely to make increases. While I know this to be possible, as we have the infrastructure in place with the access points for the connectivity of thousands of devices, we have no expectation of doing so. I do know it's possible, though. 

When it came to deciding which route to take, we felt the scalability to be important, as it started with just one access point and then it grew to switches, then to multiple access points and then to Power over Ethernet devices, etc. Therefore, I consider this an important point, even though I don't foresee short term growth.

Moreover, I would say that it's worth spending a little bit more on these products. They provide future-proofing and enable scaling and perpetuation of its use as the network demands increase in pace with technological considerations.

How are customer service and technical support?

Occasionally, I have made use of technical support, although the only time I talked to them directly concerned a switch, not an access point. More recently, I did send them an email about the issues I'm having with the model numbers I mentioned. This was two or three weeks ago. They told me someone, an engineer, would get back to me and this has yet to happen. I simply don't have the time to chase after them right now. 

Generally speaking, the solution is a good thing. It's money well spent. It's worked out well for us. I think it will continue to work out well for us. I just wish that, in light of what we're paying for ongoing licensing fees, the engineers or tech support were a little bit more accessible. For example, I told you that I emailed tech support two or three weeks ago. When I went into the app to create that ticket, all the devices that I had concerns with were still under warranty with a next business day replacement. Yet, for some reason, the phone and email support options had expired. I don't understand how one can troubleshoot and exchange a unit when tech support remains inaccessible. It was only when I clicked on one of the newer solutions that they responded to me. I explained that it was not the one giving me trouble, but that I felt I had no other means of getting in touch with them. 

I'm sure I could have spent an hour on the phone pressing prompts to speak with somebody, but email was the route we took. I would say there are positives and negatives. Yet, overall, I can't think of a better solution out there that would be without pitfalls. Like I said, I'm pretty happy with it.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before using Insight access points we were using ones which are more basic and home grade. 

We switched because of the features, the scalability and the speed. A regular NETGEAR, spaceship-looking access point can cost a lot. However, after only a year or two it can give out and become slower and incapable of handling the number of devices we have. What I mean by devices are actual things connected to the network, not people. There are 150 things connected to these access points, but there are only a few of us using them here.

These devices include phones, computers, printers, smart devices such as TVs, and Amazon solution features. There exist many of what you would refer to as smart or automation-types of equipment. They comprise a significant portion of these devices and are connected to the access points. However, these are features that we're not using on a daily basis, even as they consume resources.

This is why we need something more robust and scalable, so that it can manage and sustainably carry that type of load. We don't deem these criteria to be met with the other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the Insight access points did not require us to have any special expertise or knowledge and there was no need to bring in somebody from the outside.

It took us a single afternoon to do the initial deployment.

Our implementation strategy involved us making use of adequate coverage with our requisite speeds. This was simply the strategy that was involved in the placement and purchase of the different devices. We did not make use of a third party integrator or consultant for this undertaking and I handled the deployment independently.

What was our ROI?

While I haven't made exact calculations, I feel that our ROI accrues to the elimination of downtime and the lack of necessity to hire someone external to build and maintain the network. Since we do not consider downtime to be an option, I find it difficult to quantify our exact savings. To properly address this issue I would first need a more detailed understanding of the disparity in licensing costs between our next best solution, Cisco, and the one we chose. I think that the money that we've put into the access points and that which we are investing in licensing them on the portal is well spent.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The yearly pricing is reasonable. For what you get, the price of Insight access points is very reasonable. I don't feel like there is anything cost prohibitive or difficult to operate or use. Overall, I am impressed with the Insight portal and how it works and maintains itself, as well as with its scalability. 

My only concern is that our costs will increase with continued use of the product, since they license us annually. This will probably result in some of the less reliable devices being taken offline. Should we not see satisfactory delivery, we will deem it not worthwhile for us to pay the ongoing fees. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did not evaluate other options prior to choosing NETGEAR. I did a lot of research before going this route. It was the cloud aspect of Insight and the fact that it didn't need to be managed on site with servers that sold me on the product. 

Nevertheless, the insufficiently reliable access points made me have second thoughts. However, once we got into the situation with the current setup, it's just been outstanding. Even when it comes to those devices that aren't functioning as well as I would like, the cloud capabilities make it easy to do troubleshooting and get them back on line. I find this to be the case even though it is not what I wish to be doing with my time.

As far as Cisco Meraki or Ubiquiti access points go, I did research Cisco a little bit online. I didn't undertake anything in person. However, I found it to be much too complex for the building and expanding of the basic infrastructure that we require. Plus, the licensing fees made it unrealistic and cost prohibitive.

Furthermore, a key factor in my decision to go with NETGEAR over Meraki was the lack of need to spin up a controller. The fact that it is cloud-based played an equally important factor in this decision. 

What other advice do I have?

We are making use of three WAX610s, one of each of WAC540 and WAX610Y, and five SXR80.

I handle maintenance on my own and this is not a full time job. It's pretty straightforward and this is especially so as the units we have in place are up 100 percent of the time and are lightning fast.

The biggest lesson that I've learned from using the Insight access points is that there is no need for expertise. A master's degree and networking for their use is not required to put together a complex network for meeting one's needs. What we've got going here is pretty complex. As it turns out, it's been built up piece by piece, in a way that doesn't require much technical knowledge.

My advice to someone who is evaluating and thinking of implementing the Insight access points is that it has limitless uses. The solution can be as simple or complex as one wants. We started simple and built it up to be somewhat complex and that has worked out pretty well for us. 

Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Network and Security Consultant at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Top 20
Overall a good product that provides role-based authentication native to the controller, but has code stability issues
Pros and Cons
  • "Aruba is an industry leader. The hardware is on par, and its performance is also on par with anybody else. The Aruba brand really only focuses on wireless, so they're not competing their R&D for switching data center products and cloud security. They're really focused on that and their underlying key pieces. They provide a role-based authentication that is native to the controller. A lot of other systems don't do that. They won't provide you the ability to basically have everybody join the network, regardless of whether or not they share the same network space, the SSID, or the wireless LAN. You can segment it down to a specific user role based on any kind of attributes that you like. That's their differentiator. If you need per user, per device, or per port segmentation, you can get that with Aruba. There isn't another vendor who does it."
  • "Currently, the stability of the code is the basic underlying problem for us. They had an 8.6 release that came out two weeks ago, but we had to migrate twice because the code wasn't stable. We can't get things to work the same way. Version 8 was a big change for them. They made a change so that it is forced to be a managed hierarchical system. It means that you make changes at the top, and it pushes them downstream. There are a lot of problems with the 8.6 version code. I ran into four bugs in one week and was informed that we should just move onto the next one because all of those fixes have taken place. The feedback loop for fixes is not always really relayed back to you. I don't have a lot of strong things to say about version 8.6. When we had version 6, the controller was pretty much rock solid. We had no problems. We made a heavy investment to migrate a lot of stuff to take advantage of things like WPA3, Wi-Fi 6, and all that kind of stuff, and we haven't been able to turn those features on because we are not confident that they are going to work just yet. So, right now, we're still very much stumbling through the version 8.6 code and just trying to make sure that it is safe before we turn on some of those features. In terms of the marketplace, they are one of the top three leaders. In some respects, one of the things that they focus on is wireless. Therefore, there are some things that should be beyond reproach, as far as I'm concerned. In terms of the stability of the code, there are always going to be bugs, but the core stability of the code needs to be there. When it is not stable, that's a real problem for me because you lose a lot of confidence in the products."

What is our primary use case?

We run a number of guest wireless networks with captive portals with layer 3 networks. We run .1x for corporate SSIDs or wireless networks for additional certificate-based and/or WPA2 security.

How has it helped my organization?

Aruba has a lot of features that work particularly well. One of the things that Aruba is trying to do in most of its product ranges to make sure that all of their products now have a fully functioning northbound set of APIs. That basically means that you can plug it into any kind of system that you have for some operational pieces. For example, if you want to have Tufin, but more in line with things like change management. We're a ServiceNow shop, so we use that for change management and orchestration.

The ability to use the APIs that are available in the Aruba Wi-Fi controller means that you can get information from the system very easily by using APIs, or you can push changes to it. So, if you want to lock administrators there and restrict the type of functions that people can do, you don't have to give them access to the systems anymore. 

This functionality has been useful for us because we have recently outsourced a lot of our lower operational tasks to an outside vendor. With that, obviously, other people need to access systems, but we don't always want to give them direct access to the system. So, we can provide them with APIs to be able to perform basic tasks without giving them access to our dashboard services.

What is most valuable?

Aruba is an industry leader. The hardware is on par, and its performance is also on par with anybody else. The Aruba brand really only focuses on wireless, so they're not competing their R&D for switching data center products and cloud security. They're really focused on that and their underlying key pieces. 

They provide a role-based authentication that is native to the controller. A lot of other systems don't do that. They won't provide you the ability to basically have everybody join the network, regardless of whether or not they share the same network space, the SSID, or the wireless LAN. You can segment it down to a specific user role based on any kind of attributes that you like. That's their differentiator. If you need per user, per device, or per port segmentation, you can get that with Aruba. There isn't another vendor who does it.

What needs improvement?

Currently, the stability of the code is the basic underlying problem for us. They had an 8.6 release that came out two weeks ago, but we had to migrate twice because the code wasn't stable. We can't get things to work the same way. Version 8 was a big change for them. They made a change so that it is forced to be a managed hierarchical system. It means that you make changes at the top, and it pushes them downstream. There are a lot of problems with the 8.6 version code. I ran into four bugs in one week and was informed that we should just move onto the next one because all of those fixes have taken place. The feedback loop for fixes is not always really relayed back to you.

I don't have a lot of strong things to say about version 8.6. When we had version 6, the controller was pretty much rock solid. We had no problems. We made a heavy investment to migrate a lot of stuff to take advantage of things like WPA3, Wi-Fi 6, and all that kind of stuff, and we haven't been able to turn those features on because we are not confident that they are going to work just yet. So, right now, we're still very much stumbling through the version 8.6 code and just trying to make sure that it is safe before we turn on some of those features. 

In terms of the marketplace, they are one of the top three leaders. In some respects, one of the things that they focus on is wireless. Therefore, there are some things that should be beyond reproach, as far as I'm concerned. In terms of the stability of the code, there are always going to be bugs, but the core stability of the code needs to be there. When it is not stable, that's a real problem for me because you lose a lot of confidence in the products.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Aruba Wireless for about four years now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is pretty good. There are a lot fewer people in the office, obviously, because of COVID. Under normal situations, we were probably about 2,000 users a day. Between 40% to 50% of that would be corporate users with mobile devices, such as iPhones, as well as laptop users accessing corporate resources and the corporate LAN. We also have guest users.

They are really moving towards making it cloud-based and less attractive for you to use on-premises. There are still a number of limitations with the cloud. One of the reasons we don't use cloud controllers is that they're not able to support more than 250 access points per tenant instance. For example, you have two sites. One has 200 APs, and one has 300 APs. You could put one site in the cloud so that you wouldn't need to have on-premises wireless controllers. You could manage it all from the cloud instance, and you would have zero hardware and all that kind of stuff. 

However, you wouldn't be able to deploy the second site in the cloud because you can't put more than 250 APs. So, now you have got to go back to doing it the old-fashioned way, which is to have on-premises controllers or two management suites. You don't want to do that because the way this new code works is that it is hierarchical, meaning that you build your configuration centrally, and then you push it down to your access points or your local controllers. So, if you've got one management session in the cloud and one management session on-premises, you would have to manage them at two places.

I do understand that you can configure that local hardware. So, for the site that has 300 APs and a local controller, you could plug that controller into the cloud, but it is still for two different models. So, the companies that just want to have a very simplified setup or want to make it less complicated, they can just say that we're going to go cloud or just stay on-premises, but now you have to have a combination of both, or you just stay with on-premises. There are still some basic limitations preventing us from doing wireless deployments where controllers are based in the cloud.

How are customer service and technical support?

I use them a lot. Sometimes, I use them every day. They are pretty good. There is a problem in getting hold of people. That may be just because of COVID, but it is very much dependent on when you call and the type of issue that you have.

If it is a fairly standard issue, if you need assistance with a programming or configuration change, or if you need to know how to do something, you can normally get a very quick resolution. The meantime for resolution is pretty quick. It is within that call, half an hour, or one hour. You can generally speak to somebody. If it is some of the things that I have experienced or a bug, it can be very problematic. It could take days or weeks to get resolutions.

The basic stuff is really good. Anything past that, you probably need to have a dedicated support engineer on your camp if you're big enough, or you need to have resources that really know how to do the legwork beforehand.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I worked for a company that had Cisco for many years. Actually, towards the end of that, I switched them from Cisco to Ruckus. I did a POC and a pilot between Ruckus and Aruba, and Ruckus came out on top because of its simplified approach to wireless networking. I have also used Meraki, which is Cisco's cloud-only based AP solution. 

Cisco is like the other de facto. A lot of shops are all Cisco. Their hardware is probably on par with Aruba in terms of processing and handling capabilities. Features are also probably the same. It is more like a Ford-GM question. If you were brought up in a Ford household, you are probably going to buy a Ford sort of thing. I don't think there is much to them, to be honest.

The differentiator for me is that Cisco has a product, which is its network access control system, called ISE or identity services engine. That's a terrible product. It really is an awful product. It is very cumbersome, and it makes adding network access control to your wireless and wired networks very problematic. Aruba's product is called ClearPass, and it is a very flexible tool and easy tool. It is a much more reliable tool. While it doesn't have all the features that you can use with Cisco, it is a standard network application system, which means it will work with any vendor for any system. So, you can do 90% to 95% of the stuff you want, and it is a much more stable and capable system. This difference and the price are differentiators for me. 

From a purely wireless perspective, I think that Aruba is number one. Cisco is a very close number two, and then Ruckus is actually a distant third. Ruckus doesn't have all of the advanced capabilities, but what it does, it does very well. If you want a very basic entry-level wireless that is cheap for K-12 schools or a lot of environments like that, you can use Ruckus. If you need some of the advanced stuff, then you're going to have to pick one of the other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

I would say it is straightforward. It is just that it is a backward way of doing it. They had a fundamental shift in the way you deploy configurations in version 6 to version 8. So, basically, you would do one way in version 6, and then they completely reversed it in version 8. When you come into the product for the first time, it is easy and fairly straightforward. It is an easy adoption process. If you have got lots of experience with the previous version of code, such as version 6, and then you move to version 8, it is very confusing.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Aruba is probably cheaper than Cisco, and yet you get all the things that you want.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend Aruba Wireless, but it depends on the size and the scope. If you are a large-scale enterprise, you are going to need to deploy something large. If you are a big university or something, you are going to have to pick one of the big three, which, in this case, is going to be Cisco, Aruba, or Juniper. Juniper's Mist is a recent addition that is hugely popular right now because of a lot of the stuff it does in the cloud. They are all cloud-based controllers, and they integrate machine learning into all of your analytics to give you data. 

I think that Aruba Wireless is a good product overall. They have some code issues with this change as most vendors do when they go through a major change. The product hardware is really good, and they have additional capabilities that Cisco doesn't have, like being able to do per-port tunneling so that you can keep isolation on. They are building features, and you could only make use of these if you extend out and use all the Aruba products like Aruba switches, Aruba ClearPass, etc. 

I've had a couple of conversations with them about the next release, which is actually pending. I don't think it is happening this year. It will happen next year. Version 10 is their next step of code, and it is geared more towards automating a lot of the setup. There are still a lot of manual tasks that you have to do. The automation piece has been something that has really garnered a lot of interest from the wireless community in terms of being able to set networks up. You can just buy access points and just throw them up, and once they're powered on, they communicate with zero-touch provisioning and all that kind of stuff. A lot of the automated processes are coming along, such as the ability to tie in cloud-based analytics to look at your reports, training, or data, like Juniper Mist is doing.

There will also be a change in the user interface. They have now brought in things like COVID tracking. It is not like they are adding features that the market wants. They will add the ability for you to be able to write things that you want to see so that you can basically do your own SDK, if you like, and more easily be able to tie that into what you're doing. I'm not sure whether they'll offer that within the version 10 code.

I would rate Aruba Wireless a seven out of ten. The negatives are the instability with the specific versions of code. These could be specific versions of code, but the newer features, such as WPA, WiFi 6, require some of the newer code. The newer code isn't really very stable yet. The high point would be that it is still an industry leader with on par hardware and performance like anybody else.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at County of victoria
Real User
Top 20
Robust with a good level of performance and very helpful technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "It always runs, and it's very reliable in terms of performance."
  • "Their software's really clunky."

What is our primary use case?

We work at a courthouse, however, we manage the data for the entire county. We have them at the Sheriff's office. They use them in commissary purchases, which is a separate SSI and separate VLAN. That's to segregate wireless traffic for different groups of people per their needs. 

We have lawyers that maybe need to reach back into the network and access their documents when they take a laptop to the courtroom with them. And so through that, we've done some radius authentication. Therefore, it's not just an SSI ID. They actually have to log in with credentials as well. 

Then, we have a guest SSID just for general public access, and that's basically running wide open. We do have a simple password audit, however, everybody knows it, and that's separated by VLAN as well and run through Palo Alto. We also have a whole different SSID for patrol units for the Sheriff's office, where they upload car videos and update their car computers wirelessly. We use it broadly. 

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has let us get network access to more people in different locations where wires aren't feasible - like in a garage or for the Sheriff's office uploads in courtrooms. In some of these courtrooms, you can't run additional wire due to the fact that they're historical buildings. You have to have wireless. Also, you have lawyers walking around and you don't want them tripping over stuff. It's useful in every aspect of getting public access - even for when there are events in the square, across from the courthouse. It's basically helped us better serve everybody and provided them with network access.

What is most valuable?

It always runs, and it's very reliable in terms of performance. They are very, very robust, very rugged, and can handle indoor or outdoor coverage. We typically don't have too many problems with the hardware.

What needs improvement?

The wireless LAN controllers at the time when we started rolling out, we went with it simply due to the fact that everything else worked that was Cisco. We figured, if everything else works and we're satisfied with it, let's go that route. However, now people want more access points and more spots. And if you give everybody coverage, the cost is crazy high. You can either say, "No, we can't," or you can go with the cheaper product, even slightly cheaper, plus you get more APs out there for more coverage.

At least with the WLC 2500 that we've been using, you can't take just the stock AP from them. You have to use lightweight firmware. You turn it into a lightweight AP and then you can join it to, or provision it to, the wireless controller, which should be automatic. In most cases, it works pretty well, however, it's still not there yet, as far as plugging it into this network that's going to tunnel back to the controller. I would say it works 7 out of 10 times. For the price, it should be a 10 out of 10. Especially with Cisco running an entire Cisco network with CDP all over the place, there should be no reason it doesn't tunnel back every single time. And yet, there are a few times where it doesn't.

It got to the point where, when I prevent in APs, I just take them directly to the switch that the controller is plugged into and provision them there instead of just plugging them in like you should be able to. 

The software on offer is not great. Cisco lacks in software updates, surprisingly. They don't update their firmware too much for the controller. This is not something you want to be done constantly as it does make downtime, however, I would like to see them more than once a year. Unless there's a critical flaw, or you're running an early release. They're their main releases, I want to say year after year, it's been maybe once a year, and then you have to push it out to all your APs. 

Their software's really clunky. It's not very user-friendly, which you can see that as a good thing and a bad thing. We should learn this stuff, but at the same time, it shouldn't be overly difficult. You shouldn't have your options hidden in menus. You shouldn't have to go 25 minutes deep to get to some security options for a specific SSID. 

Also the way the group their security settings is a little bit backward to me. It's not done by SSID. There's just a security tab. Then, you have to link back and forth through that. However, that's something that you're going to fight with through every controller, every different type of device. We all wish they were organized differently. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We originally started using the solution in 2014.

We had one before then as well. Since we've gone wireless, or implemented wireless throughout the buildings here, we've always used Cisco. This is just a Cisco shop. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's reliable. 

The one issue we did have was with their mesh radios. I'm not sure that it was with the radio itself, the software in the radio. They run two different firmware. One is autonomous firmware, which they use with their AP line and then lightweight APs. With the autonomous one, there's no consistency there. For the indoor APs, you'll have lightweight firmware that you need on them. And then for the outdoor mesh radios, they're not fully autonomous, yet you have to have the autonomous software on them for the mesh feature to function. That's a little bit convoluted and I kind of wished that would just have it one way or the other.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution scales easily.

The number of users varies. Some days we have court cases and then you have jurors, lawyers, the media people. It varies widely. I would say on average, we have possibly 200 people a day on a slow day using it. And then on an extremely busy day, it could double that.

We use the solution quite extensively.

We do plan to increase usage, however, it won't necessarily be with this product. We'll probably like to go with a different product based on price and licensing.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is 10 out of 10. Cisco tech support is one of the best supports I've ever dealt with.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. As we have added SSIDs, when we have had a hardware failure, the re-setup, for instance, is a bit more involved. When the controller itself was acting kind of finicky, we did an overnight request and got one in. Re-uploading that configuration was not as easy if that makes sense. If you're setting up a brand new device, it's very easy, very straightforward. If you're trying to restore from a backup configuration, it's not as easy. We ended up actually just resetting it up from scratch.

The deployment itself likely took three hours.

We had some bugs to work out after that, however, the majority of it was up and running within three hours.

For maintenance, you only need one person (a network admin) and then a backup person, just in case that person is on vacation or something.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the setup all in-house. We do have their tech support. At one point, we did get tech on the phone and were working with them. It basically came down to firmware. The one they shipped us could not downgrade its firmware to the firmware we were running on. There was no good way to make it upload the config from an older firmware. They wanted the same firmware restorations. That was kind of a pain, however, we just ended up manually going through and resetting everything, which was not too terrible.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Cisco's APs are licensed and you need to buy them. Basically, for every AP, you have to have a license. Some of the other devices do it so that they support X amount and you can buy the licenses for zero to 20, 20 to 40, et cetera, and it's a little bit more affordable. That's kind of why I was trending towards Ruckus. They handle their licensing a little bit differently. 

Every time somebody asks "How much is a wireless access point? We need wireless in this room." Well, then you tell them the cost and mention "Oh yeah, and there's a license." It's expensive.

Users purchase each AP, and that's until the end of that product's life. If you break it down over a year, it's fairly affordable. However, nobody replaces one AP, we replace them all typically at the same time. Unless one dies or they need one expanded, as far as specific costs go, it's different for indoor and outdoor ones. It might be around $100 for a license. The internal ones are far cheaper than that. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had looked at Meraki before, however, the cost is just astronomical. We're a local government, so there's no money. The cost of Cisco wireless controllers has always been kind of clunky. I had heard a lot of good things about Aruba, and then I heard they were bought out by HP, however, it seems like it's still good. I was leaning more towards Ruckus based on just how it handles traffic and handles the guest VLANs and that it can do SSI de-scheduling. I still need to go back and do an in-depth read on the Ruckus option. I am leaning towards that one, even though it seems like it's a close tie.

I also looked at Ubiquity, however, from what I've read, their hardware is not really up to par when you hit saturation, and on certain days of the week here, we definitely have saturated APs due to the fact that we have court cases. You can go from the usual 10 people on an AP to possibly 40 plus people, all trying to check their internet over the wireless. It gets kind of crazy on those days.

What other advice do I have?

We're just a customer and an end-user.

We use the 2500 wireless controller and all the APs that go with it. 

We have Cisco switches and routers as well. We were using Cisco firewalls up until about three years ago. And then we switched to Palo Alto. As far as switching goes, still happy with their switches. They're extremely pricey, however, they last forever, and they meet a lot of government requirements that we have.

I'd recommend the solution I wouldn't hesitate to do install it if the company can afford it.

I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten for its ease of setup, ease of scalability, and robustness.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Tim Brumbaugh - PeerSpot reviewer
Solutions Architect at Golden West Technologies
Real User
Top 5
Great performance, easy to set up and simple to configure
Pros and Cons
  • "The product has some very awesome patents on their radios and their antennas and antenna patterns and how their signaling works. That's why nobody can touch them. If they go head to head with anybody."
  • "The cost could be slightly improved. It's not on the low end, and it's not in the high end. It's in that middle area, which can be a deciding factor between someone going with this solution versus another one."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for its performance, compatibility, and general capabilities. We do a lot of schools, colleges, large civic centers, large arenas, etc. That kind of stuff. We know how to deploy this so that the clients get great client connectivity.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of COVID, we've deployed external access points to the outside of a lot of the buildings. These are very weather-resistant, all-metal enclosures. The students have been able to do assignments and schoolwork and that kind of stuff from the parking lots of the schools. They can drive up in their car, get their assignments, or do work that they need to while they're connected to the school. It made social distancing in this way pretty seamless as everything was already set up on their laptops. Most of the schools are what they call the one-to-one initiative, where every student gets a laptop and they've been able to work through COVID from their cars in parking lots when they needed to be at the school for something. It's really benefited a lot of the schools to be able to do that.

What is most valuable?

The performance of the product is amazing.

The ease of configuration that's on offer is very good.

The product is very compatible with other solutions.

The guest onboarding is so simple. We can onboard guests really easily. Each guest that connects has a pre-shared key that they get which are all unique. We have some great control over the guest and corporate traffic. We can control how much bandwidth a guest user gets versus a corporate user, and who gets priority on there. 

Ruckus is way ahead of the game on a lot of stuff like Wi-Fi 6. They're already rolling out the second version of Wi-Fi 6, which is a huge improvement over even Wi-Fi 5. The way wireless started is you had 802.11b, 802.11a, then 802.11g and 802.11n, then 802.11ac, then AC wave to 802.11ax which is the first version of Wi-Fi 6. The next version of Wi-Fi 6 is rolling out already.

The product has some very awesome patents on their radios and their antennas and antenna patterns and how their signaling works. That's why nobody can touch them. If they go head to head with anybody. They blow Cisco and Aruba out of the water and even Mist for radio plant connectivity. On top of that, they have very good engineering. If I ever need help with engineering stuff, I can call on them. The company does a really good job, which is why we've stayed with them.

What needs improvement?

They're leaders in what they're doing. I don't know what they can do to improve what they're doing currently. 

The cost could be slightly improved. It's not on the low end, and it's not in the high end. It's in that middle area, which can be a deciding factor between someone going with this solution versus another one.

They've got a rotation or a life expectancy of about four years for the radio. Not that radio is going to die right hten. I've got some that are way older than that, that the customers are still using. However, they take them and they end the life of them at four years. Any of their wireless products are end of life by year four. Most of it's because technology has changed so much that those old videos can't do stuff that is now available for PCs to connect or phones to connect to that kind of stuff. 

What they do is they force you into a Cloud controller. We've got a couple of them. If I've got a Cloud controller there and it's on version 5.1, and I want to go to version 5.2, bdue to the fact that I need to support the new radios coming out, I can't if I have some older radios on that controller. I can't upgrade that controller to the latest software to support the new radios as I've got some end of life radios on there that go into life when I upgrade the software. They need to be able to allow us to keep some of the older products on the Cloud controllers or any of their controllers longer, and just start supporting the new controllers. They force you into an upgrade unnecessarily.

We have some customers that have just a few APs. There are some small businesses that don't want to, or don't need to upgrade their controllers and they're crushing their access points. For us to be able to work with the latest access points, we've got to upgrade our controller, however, we can't. That bites us every year. We'll have customers that have APs that are going end of life that still work fine, but we can't manage them anymore.

I know the reasoning behind it is it could be security features or it's something that the access points don't support that newer devices do. They'll support this new Wi-Fi 6 coming out, however, I can't run the same types of radios on this particular controller software anymore. That kind of puts me off a little bit, however, that's the only thing that the company has done that's made me mad.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for the past six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the product is rock solid. We haven't had any issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is extremely scalable. I can have up to three controllers with each one housing 10,000 APS. I can have a cluster of controllers controlling 30,000 different APS. I don't have anything that big. One is close to a thousand and that's the biggest I have. Still, it's nice to be able to build in more redundancy. 

How are customer service and technical support?

As a Ruckus partner, I've got access to Ruckus. I've got access to tech support, and it makes things a lot easier for the end-users and businesses I work with. If they have an issue, they can come directly to me or they can go directly to Ruckus, it doesn't matter. I'll be happy to help them. If I can't answer the question or get them fixed, then we'll get with tech support. I don't call tech support very often. Maybe once a year, if that. They make a good product and offer good training. Once you learn it, it's pretty easy to manage. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to have Cisco's products for one or two years. I don't know the last time I had to turn in an RMA for a Ruckus radio. They're a solid product.

How was the initial setup?

I've been doing implementations for a long time. If it's brand new to the system, like any system, it can be fairly complex. However, they have great documentation on their website on how to set it up. If a client needs complexity, however, they need help. That's where I come in.

I can go in and configure things securely for guest access and BYOB devices and corporate laptops with 802.1X. I have a stand-alone AP, I just got one office with one AP. I don't need it to be controlled by anything. If I've got one or two SSID, it can still be configured. It's just that you're doing it on the AP or, alternatively, they have what's called Unleashed, which is controller-less. The AP is the controller that can do up to 50 APs all controlled by one AP. If that AP was to die, it doesn't matter, that configuration is saved on all of them. 

There are several different interfaces you may run into, to be able to configure everything. However, they're all very similar in how they work and react. The full controller has much more capability than Unleashed and at least has more capability on the stand-alone. In any case, it's all well documented, and all straightforward.

In terms of deployment times, we figure for AP it's an hour and a half, so you can just figure in that as the base amount of time you need for each AP and that includes configuration and installation. Therefore, if you have 20 APs, it's about 30 hours for 25 APs and that's setting up the controller virtual, or Cloud-based, setting up the AP, the SSIDs, passwords, 802.1X., and then physically mounting them.

What was our ROI?

The solution definitely offers my clients a good ROI after they implement it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They don't really need to be cheaper. They're not the most expensive, and they're not the least expensive. They're right there in the middle.

What other advice do I have?

We're a reseller as well as a customer.

We're running the latest software. We deploy through a controller and we use 802.1X. There're multiple ways to deploy to customers. There's a cloud controller, for example. We typically do a virtual controller on their systems.

If a company is new to Ruckus, it's best to work with a partner. You need somebody that knows what they're doing, and knows what questions to ask so that you're getting the right information. When I go to do an implementation, I've got a list of 50 different questions. I'll ask somebody, what about this? What about this? What about this? It will help with the implementation process if someone has a complete view of what to ask for and what to do.

You get what you pay for. People will throw in Linksys, and this other stuff. If you're a business, say you're a coffee shop and you have 50 customers sitting there. You want all of them to get the same performance all the time. I want to make sure everybody gets an equal amount of time without anybody getting any interruptions.

With Linksys and Ubiquiti and all these other brands, you don't get that. When it comes to the head-to-head competition, the Ruckus far out-shines them. Ten to one, you just can't compete. When they say it's going to do something, it does it. They don't put documentation out that is misleading. If it says it'll do 1,024 clients it'll do 1,024 clients. If it says it'll do 4.3 gigabytes, it'll do 4.3 gigabytes. It's great.

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Owner at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Stable, easy to deploy and manage, and fewer access points are needed when compared to other vendors
Pros and Cons
  • "The most beneficial thing about Ubiquiti is that it is simple to deploy."
  • "The downside is the interface changes, where they are constantly doing firmware updates."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and the Ubiquiti WLAN is one of the networking products that we implement for our customers. We have worked with different versions including the AC Pro HD, the HD, and the XD.

I have set up and manage multiple sites. There are 45 access points deployed all over a billion square feet.

What is most valuable?

The most beneficial thing about Ubiquiti is that it is simple to deploy. I found that the access points were easy to identify on the network and they came over easily, which was an upside.

What needs improvement?

The downside is the interface changes, where they are constantly doing firmware updates. I often felt like I was being pushed into updates, in spite of it already working. In my mind, it also raises a red flag because you have to wonder why they keep changing the firmware. You can decide to ignore the update, but then if you move the access point then it will update automatically anyway. This is a little bit of control that you give up. So, while it is easy to deploy, all of these things that happen in the background make me uncomfortable.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Ubiquiti in general for several years, but specifically with WLAN for the past two to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The Ubiquiti WLAN is very stable, although if I don't update it, I feel a lot better.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is not good. We did get help, but I didn't have a good feeling about it.  By comparison, it isn't the level of support that you would get from Cisco or Aruba.

I would say that they have improved from when I started with them a few years ago and that they are getting better. In fact, it's a lot better, and also, the need for calling technical support has been reduced as well. By comparison, we call Fortinet for technical support more often. With Fortinet, we often joke that you wait on hold for so long that you've fixed the problem before you even speak with somebody about the issue.

Another comparison is with Meraki; with them, you get them on the phone quickly and they fix the problem. That's it. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have experience with products from several vendors. Some examples are EnGenius, Fortinet, Cisco, Juniper, Aruba, and Cisco Meraki.  There are differences between them and some of my colleagues are upset with the security levels that are offered by some of the other vendors.

For example, if you want to compare Juniper to Cisco, Cisco settings are not as secure. The group settings are much higher in terms of encryption on the Juniper than on the Meraki. And, if you want better security, which is group 14, you can't do that unless you call them up and they actually set it for you. So that's on the Meraki side, or Cisco.

In terms of support or how things actually happen under the hood, some people liked Meraki the best. I am leaning towards liking Meraki more, but there are some drawbacks. As far as the support is concerned, or the overall experience with the solution, Ubiquiti is simple and easy and inexpensive. You go to Meraki or you go to Aruba or you go to the others, it's a lot more money.

For many years, I use the EnGenius products for Wi-Fi. Pretty much all the access points we were selling to our clients were the EnGenius brand. Then we went to Ubiquiti and I was happy because it was much easier, I can manage it in one place, it's better, and I don't have to update things as much if I choose not to. With EnGenius, I never changed anything. I set it once, and I forgot it, and there's something to be said for that. You just set it and forget it and leave it. But the EnGenius, if you have to do troubleshooting then it is quite a problem because the management is terrible.

How was the initial setup?

We implement and deploy network solutions for our customers. This includes setting up the physical access points, then configuring them by adding them to access groups, making sure that the channels don't conflict with other devices, and so forth.

The deployment and models depend on the density of the access points in the space.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This product is more cost-effective than some others on the market.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing Ubiquiti is to first make sure that you have a good plan first. Make sure that you have done your homework in terms of the space where it will be installed. The best is if you're replacing the existing solution, you should still review the placement. The reason is that nine times out of ten, you'll use fewer Ubiquiti devices than you would if you were using Aruba, or Meraki, or some other brand.

You don't need to buy as many, even though with the budget you have you can buy twice as many access points for the same money you would spend on Meraki, but it's overkill. You don't need that many. So, be conservative about the number of access points that are put out there. This is to say that you have to do a really good survey.

Look for metal plating, look for the line of sight access, so that you put the access points where they can actually see each other. Make sure that the access points are not too close to each other, but not too far away. That's the whole thing. I go with 50 or 75 feet away, in tight spaces.

Overall, I feel that this is a good product.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Wireless LAN
July 2022
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