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  • We are similar in size and device makeup and just refreshed with Ruckus.  Mix of 750 and 850 APs.  Using Ruckus.cloud to manage, zero problems so far.  You can spin up as many SSIDs as you want and link them to as many VLANS as you want.

    Right now we're running 5 VLANs on Ubiquiti EdgeSwitches with only some minor annoyances, but nothing that was a show stopper.

    I went with Ruckus as that was the system in place when I started and it was great, just showing it's age.  Tried out Cisco and was impressed, but would have had to deploy more APs for same coverage/$.

    Final note, as you are in the US, if you are not using E-Rate dollars to fund your wifi, you are doing it wrong!

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  • Haven't heard great stuff on the Sonicwalls.

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  • Honestly I would just stick with Unifi and upgrade to newer AP's  Unless you have a large budget to spend you are going to find sticker shock moving to other brands.

    What issues have you had with Unifi?  I (and a lot of others in the community) use them almost exclusively with good success.

    I would actually go as far as to suggest not using Dell switches, but using Unifi Switches too.  The closer you can get to a single vendor solution the easier it becomes to manage and the fewer issues you tend to have

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  • I’m finally getting rid of the last of my old UAPs that went EOL in January and putting in NanoHDs. True there’s no real “support” to speak of. The only issue I had was it was my first venture into managed switches (and VLANS) … and getting the port tagging/trunking set up took some time initially, but I haven’t had any issues to speak of once I figured it out. I just find the pricing worth the occasional fritter factor. If I’m spending the money, I’d have a spare Nano or 2 and only replacing as they fail. (I’ve never had a UAP die, but I have upgraded my home install and the School).

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  • When I was in the school system, those Unifi AP's were rocks.   They might require an occasional hand holding, but for the price they can't be beat unless you got a lot of erate $$$'s to throw at a bigger player.

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  • Let's start with the basic question:  Have you found shortcomings with Ubiquiti for your use case?  If not, consider staying with the product line.

    • Unifi:  They do have newer WiFi 6 units in 4x4 MIMO ($180) and 2x2 MOMO($99).  I have a single cloud VM managing all sites for $5 /mo.  No recurring license fees
    • Ar​uba:  A bit more expensive (4-8x) and if you go with the Instant controller, no real recurring costs, but the APs pricy.  I use this at one site due to the speed at which equipment traverses one warehouse.  These handle the quick handoff needs better than Unifi
    • Sonicwall:  They make decent routers, but their AP line used to stink.  I haven't look at them in years, so they may be better
    • Meraki, Ruckus, Aerohive:  I believe there are recuring costs, but I have never gotten past a short trial.

    Switches:  the Dell N2000 series works with Unifi and Aruba flawlessly in my experience.

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  • If you are just looking to do a proactive refresh, it may be best to stay with UniFi.  If you can get the funding and want to spend a little more, I would suggest Aruba as there is a lifetime warranty on the APs.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the others.  Ruckus, I used about 5 years ago and it was OK, but not quite up to the hype back then.  Cisco is just pricy and needs higher density of APs to cover.  Meraki is just too much with the recurring costs.  

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  • I would recommend Ruckus (AKA Commscope). I used them in a school district that has 2200 students and a open Guest network. Our AP's would have ~50-200 connected users and I never had any issues. We had R720's and were looking at the R850 for our next E-Rate refresh. If you decide to go R850 I would look at switches that support the 5G Ethernet port with the Higher PoE output. That would allow you to maximize the performance of the AP to fully utilize all 8 antennas. We also had a wifi survey and that allowed us to cut the amount of AP's in half vs other AP's. 50 was recommended vs the 100 we had before. Other companies wanted to sell us the 100. Overall, Ruckus' range was about double of any other AP we tested. 

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  • We used Meraki at the district I used to work for and they were great.  We were a much larger district though to the point that UniFi was never even considered.

    The dashboard is much easier to navigate and configure than UniFi.  They have fantastic support, very helpful and almost never had to wait on hold even when I called.  The APs themselves were pretty rock solid. Very rarely would they need to be replaced.  If they do need to be replaced they overnight one out to you at no additional cost if you don't keep spares.

    I've just moved to a smaller environment that has UniFi wireless and it's baffling to me that if I make a setting change in the controller there is a chance that the APs have to do a soft reboot and drop all the clients for a minute. 

    Meraki is an ongoing cost since you have to renew after each contract or you can't use them anymore.  We seemed to be able to get deals from Meraki each renewal though since we always threatened to go to Aruba (we had all Aruba switching).  

    If support is a big sticking point and the price isn't too much then I would consider Meraki.  They helped me with many issues, I even learned quite a bit from their support engineers just going through packet captures with them and walking through some things.

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  • You will see lots of love for Ubiquiti here, and for good reason.  I run Ubuquiti Unifi at home myself, and recommend it to small businesses if they ask.

    Our warehouse operation relies very heavily on available and stable wifi.  We have close to three hundred devices that hit the wireless network, split between three SSIDs.  Earlier this year we launched a refresh of our antique Motorola/Zebra/Extreme system.  My boss set one hard rule:  if there is a problem we need to be able to call someone and get immediate support, to have a SME we can hold accountable to the problem and solve it.  This ruled out Ubiquiti right up front. 

    We talked with HP/Aruba, Meraki, and Extreme.  Ultimately we went with the Extreme solution.  The biggest factor was that our current Extreme solution carried us nearly ten years with zero work.  The only time I ever connected to the controller was when we added a new AP, and the last time I did that was over four years ago.  To say it differently, the network was hands-free, maintenance-free, and hassle-free for us for almost a decade. 

    We do have a small remote warehouse where we have two Ubiquiti Unifi APs serving a single SSID and fewer than twenty devices.  In the two years since installing we have had to physically touch them to power cycle them at least three times.  This is not a solid track record, particularly compared to the preceding paragraph.

    A friend of mine does public schools (K-12) and they are on Aruba.  If memory serves, there are two AAA high schools in the district, plus the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.  Add the administration and support buildings and he has a few dozen discrete locations.  He says they have been solid performers for their application, which speaks well for the scalability of that solution.

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  • Also a note since you are in a school.  You can probably get education discounts from most vendors if you ask for them. So what ever solution you look at keep that in mind

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  • ThaneKrios wrote:

    We used Meraki at the district I used to work for and they were great.  We were a much larger district though to the point that UniFi was never even considered.

    The dashboard is much easier to navigate and configure than UniFi.  They have fantastic support, very helpful and almost never had to wait on hold even when I called.  The APs themselves were pretty rock solid. Very rarely would they need to be replaced.  If they do need to be replaced they overnight one out to you at no additional cost if you don't keep spares.

    I've just moved to a smaller environment that has UniFi wireless and it's baffling to me that if I make a setting change in the controller there is a chance that the APs have to do a soft reboot and drop all the clients for a minute. 

    Meraki is an ongoing cost since you have to renew after each contract or you can't use them anymore.  We seemed to be able to get deals from Meraki each renewal though since we always threatened to go to Aruba (we had all Aruba switching).  

    If support is a big sticking point and the price isn't too much then I would consider Meraki.  They helped me with many issues, I even learned quite a bit from their support engineers just going through packet captures with them and walking through some things.

    I'd agree with ThaneKrios here. Meraki is phenomenal with management, content control, reliability, VLAN support (with location tagging), and ease of use. Once you have your network setup in the dashboard, you link the AP's and each AP automatically pulls it's configuration. From there you can use location tags to decide which APs broadcast which SSIDs and can choose a different VLAN for the same SSID at different sites. It is a bit pricey with the subscription and everything, but well worth it in my mind. Almost never have issues with the APs and when we have Meraki support is great at helping out.

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  • Hi

    Not seeing the brand we use listed here. We are using MikroTik. They are cost effective (cheaper than any of the other brands I got quotes on anyway) and I have been using them for about 4 years and have had little to no issues with them. You can use any MikroTik device as a controller, they also have a monitoring system that you can load, they support a variety of protocols and they are easy to set up.

    Would recommend you look at them as well.

    I am not affiliated with them but I like the product and even use them at home. 

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  • We (0-18, education sector) are 60% through a project to replace our Ruckus (7 y/o and never had any support/updates) with Unifi. I worked with an MSP for a couple of years that exclusively provided Unifi (SMB etc) so I know it's quirks/features very well. We'll have 94 APs across 6 buildings once everything is done. So far, the comments we've had from the buildings already done (staged due to disruption) have been fantastic. Yes, for our size we probably could/should have gone down the Aruba route (considered), but the price was effectively 3.5x. With everything still quite tight (due to a lack of investment over the last few years) I simply couldn't justify that cost at the moment. Maybe at the next refresh, we'd have a different opinion. 

    My budget providers are also pretty keen on Unifi because there's no recurring cost for use.....

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  • I found Aerohive quite fitting for schools in the days of my school-network-projects. They do a controller-standalone-mix. The configuration is created centraly and pushed out to each AP. If the controller is not reachable the network still works. Wouldnt do a cloud controller solution though if there no need to configure the Wifi from everywhere. VMs come cheap these days. Best on Aerohive was that - proper configured - they manage bandwith and loadout basically by themselves. handy for high density networks. clients get shifted around to less occupied APs or steered to 5 GHz if they want to stay on 2.4. There is even a automated rough AP prevention system.

    If you want to change your Firewall too Sophos is may worth looking. Sometimes they have big offers where they drops the hardware prices to nearly nothing - licences make the money. The yearly costs are may quite high but i liked the nearly complete automation of how APs got set up and integrated.

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  • I run about 100 UP-AP-PROs over 7 different locations.
    I know very well about the lack of support... it made my life Hell for about a year... until I finally figured out the problem on my own (outdoor wireless meshing was very unstable)

    Beyond that, the Ubiquitis are very low maintenance.  Occasionally I have to reboot one that gets out of line, or spend some time upgrading firmware.

    I hate recommending a product with such poor support, but once you have them working, they are pretty solid.

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  • Can confirm Meraki is a great solution.

    Deployed throughout large central library and 26 branches.

    Great WAP's, switches and management interface.

    Only downside is OPEX vs CAPEX.

    Cheers,

    Andre

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  • Unifi has continued time and time again to be the answer for cheap and reliable hardware, (for the most part).  I've worked with sonicwall and ruckus, both have their own things going for them, but from what I've seen, licensing is always the big thing that they have going against them when comparing against Unifi APs. 

    Depending on how many you have, you may run into a sourcing problem right now, (normal right now), but in the long run, they are low cost, low headache, and they offer a decently large amount of function for little cost. That's why in the last year of doing MSP work I replaced about 3 school networks and 2 hotels with Unifi equipment. Still going strong and happy today. 
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  • What kind of issues have you had with your UniFi setup? They have always been a solid solution wherever I've installed them, and they're easy to set up and manage with very few issues in my experience.

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  • Chiming in along with many - going with APs that integrate into your overall environment yields a lot of benefits.  If you have a single vendor across firewall, switches and APs, life can get simpler.  I tried the UniFi solution and scrapped it after 3 months.  It was a massive headache with some of the worst support I've experienced in the industry.  It all came down to my usage of Windows Server for DHCP & DNS in the environment.  Their gear had a horrible time passing DHCP requests outside it's shiny software, so nobody could reliably connect.  Combine this issue with the very frequent firmware updates, and it was more trouble than it's worth.

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  • What are your wireless and network requirements?  Wifi 802.11ax (WiFi 6)?  High density?  Cloud or on-premise WLAN management?  Do you need L3 roaming?  Wireless 802.1X or a NAC integration?  Robust guest experience?  Analytics?  If you need basic wireless coverage to 'surf the web' go with your skillset and budget points you.  Otherwise, Aruba, Cisco, Cisco Meraki, Extreme, Juniper/Mist and even Fortinet AP's offer more of an enterprise level experience.  With all things wireless, I would also suggest a proper wireless predictive mapping (onsite preferred) to give you an accurate head count and AP placement. 

    Also, absolutely explore E-Rate :) 

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  • We were facing a choice about Unifi/Ubiquiti this year, and because we had the funding for it, we went all in on Unifi, including their switches (we use a PF Sense dedicated appliance for firewall, and a few "dumb" switches around the campus for end point connections, but the primary switches are the newer Unifi switches and all our access points are the newer $100 "6" access points.

    From a network management stand point, this was probably the best decision ever. The unifi controller handles the switch config and the wifi config, and the Ubiquiti way of handling network vlans, while very different from our previous dell switches and any cisco knowledge i had, is very intuitive if you give it a chance and "open your mind"

    not every school can afford to go in for the switches we got, but i love this thing so much i'm half tempted to get one for my lab to replace my own dell switch.

    biggest issue so far after the upgrade of APs were connectivity issues with some apple devices (fairly easy to find out about, and equally easy fix) as well as some non-school issued HP computers and a couple of chromebooks. I haven't heard anything since i implemented the Apple device fix, so i'm thinking that same fix also helped out all the other devices having trouble on the new "6" APs.

    not sure if this helps you, but figured i'd throw it out there.

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  • CoffeeQuaffer​ this has been one of my exact issues. We upgraded to Windows Server Datacenter 2019 (but even before this) and have the same DHCP and DNS timeouts. People tend to have issues connecting reliably. Not as much since we did a backbone infrastructure upgrade (all fiber, 17 switches, copper to endpoints) with Dell switches. 

    Keoni1292 this Apple device issue is also one we have been facing from the very beginning. Any Apple device on the network can not run an update, etc. There have even been reported issues of not being able to connect to projectors or other devices that use the wifi. Will you please connect with me on the solution here?

    bradendrown​ The issue has never been with the setup...we have lots of Unifi items (APs, cameras, etc.). The issue lies more in the firmware "updates". There have been many times that when I ran a firmware update, it didn't just make update changes, but turned on functions that I previously had turned off--one nightmare scenario was that all the devices started meshing (can't remember Unifi's term for this in the control panel). It broke my whole network for days.

    ******************************************************************************************************

    I am not against going back with Unifi. When I came onboard they needed a solution and I had site mapping done. That's when we went from 4 Cisco APs to a total of 42 across the campus. What I really want to know is if there is a better option for our needs, because they have been changes since the original deployment. We have grown from 325 student body to 620, and we have gone completely mobile for all of the teachers and staff. I need a rock; but I also need forward-thinking....

    1) A device that can support more than 4 SSIDs

    2) Can it run WPA2 and WPA3

    3) Wifi 6 capable

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  • The unifi wifi pro 6 should meet your needs, although 4 + SSID's seems inefficient.  

    https://store.ui.com/products/unifi-ap6-professional

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  • In education I've mostly supported Ruckus, Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba, and Ubiquiti. For deployments under a couple hundred users, Ubiquiti works great if I'm not concerned with support or much reporting/inspection; mostly for the price point and I don't usually go above a couple hundred users.

    Meraki is top-tier, it provides deep inspection/reporting, some stellar features and awesome reporting. Their dashboard is ultra clean and the devices are super easy to manage. Ruckus (now owned by Brocade) is my second favorite, close tie with Aruba (now owned by HPE). They both work fine, have all the features I typically need, are fairly easy to manage, etc; generally just good equipment and not insanely expensive in comparison to Meraki.

    If you have the budget, get Meraki, by far they are the best in class. If you don't quite have that budget, I'd look at Ruckus and then Aruba. Aruba has a more affordable Instant line called "Instant On". It operates a bit more like Ubiquiti, but has more features and still uses a cloud controller; with a rock bottom price point. 

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  • qsaaiman​ mentions MikroTik. Very powerful, very configurable and very stable devices. I used to work with a last mile WISP and we used nothing but MikroTik. Inside and outside they just kept going even at -40c on a mountain top using solar power. The only issue with a MikroTik solution would be configuration. With all the features and power they provide they have a very feature rich and configurable OS which can be a bit of a learning curve.

    I have also run, and currently have installed, a complete Ubiquiti Inc.​ network. While my network is not as large as yours i have found that it became much more stable when i changed out non Ubiquity devices to Ubiquity devices, including switches. I had a 48 port HPE switch that was a bit older that was causing my network intermittent issues and was hard to track down the cause. I changed it out on a whim (as it was the only none Ubiquity device) and now my network is purring like a kitten. I only look at it every month or so to do firmware updates. For the rest of the time it does not give me any issues.

    Meraki and other devices have good track records as well but for the majority they want a monthly subscription. If you are OK with a monthly cost then i recommend checking out Datto Inc.​ as a possible contender. There cost was reasonable and they had a few features that worked to keep your up-time closer to 100% (LTE fail-over). I used to sell them at a previous company and they have amazing support if/when you need it. The couple times we needed to call there support there agents took the ticket and treated it as if it was there network that was having the problem. They knew there product very well and stuck with it until it was resolved. I never once felt like they followed a repair script and did not care since they already had your money. It is one of VERY few support lines that i was made to feel like they had somehow failed you and were doing everything they could to make it right. And not for just a single call but for any call made.

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  • I am an IT Director for two K-12 schools. We really like Ubiquity it seems to be going well. 

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  • I'm a big fan of Aruba's InstantOn series and they are priced about the same as Ubiquiti.  However, they are not as full featured as the regular Aruba line.  (I'm sure you can find a comparison chart somewhere)

    Between the firmware bug of late last year which I don't believe they over officially admitted to and the later firmware causing Apple devices to not reliably connect without rebooting the AP's, I kind of soured on Ubiquiti.  One law firm client who had outside people coming in all the time that needed dependable wireless ordered me to remove the Ubiquiti stuff due to all the problems and I moved them to Aruba InstantOn and have had -zero- problems.

    I still have Ubiquiti at a few clients where wireless isn't as critical.

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  • For schools we use Rukus. For corporations, businesses and home users we use UniFi.

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  • Keoni1292 this Apple device issue is also one we have been facing from the very beginning. Any Apple device on the network can not run an update, etc. There have even been reported issues of not being able to connect to projectors or other devices that use the wifi. Will you please connect with me on the solution here?

    For the issue of apple devices connecting to projectors and etc For this to work the devices will all have to be in the same broadcast domain (airplay requirement) this means that they have to be on the same IP subnet with no routing happing between the apple device and the airplay source its connecting to.

    If they are on different VLAN's or cross a routing boundary this won't work.

    As for the updates not working that really sounds like a content filtering rule at your gateway. The Unifi AP's don't filter traffic.

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  • I learned the hard way that when discussing Wireless Access Points with a customer who wanted to see the different brands, prices and specs, that I must spell out wireless access point. I am a bit older and apparently naïve, so I searched for the acronym . . . Note to self, NEVER GOOGLE WAP!

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  • I would have a look at Extreme. They bought Aerohive a couple of years ago and have been building on what was already a superb platform. They have the Extreme Cloud IQ system for controlling both APs and Switches and, I belive they can work with Dell EMC switches (full list here: https://docs.aerohive.com/330000/docs/help/english/ng/Content/learning-whats-new.htm )

    I looked at all the various offerings six years ago and this was easily the best system. I know they have a lot of installs in schools as well and have good systems for guests and BYOD kit.

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  • my $0.02 on Sonicwall Wi-Fi devices 

    Set up one Tz370w for a side job /business.. very poor ! I would strongly recommend staying away from them . 

    I do prefer Sonicwall Firewalls ,so i am not bashing all Sonicwall products

    I am currently using 11 AC pro connected to one cloud key controller  and love it . Very easy to mange with very little issues . 

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  • I agrere with these 2.

    We use all Meraki, switches, wireless, security, and cameras.  Amazing tech support and always helpful.  We're a k-12 school with 2200 students and 450 staff.  Every kid has a chromebook.

    There's a reason Cisco bought them out years ago, they have an amazing web interface.  There's also an app for your phone, I can instantly see what's going on anywhere.

    I've used Unifi for small business jobs and small places. Their products aren't bad at all.  The main reason I use them there though is price point.

    What's your deciding factor?  If what you have works, stick with it and get the newer versions.

    If you want something new, see what you need and what your constraints are and check out the other vendors.

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  • bbigford wrote:

    In education I've mostly supported Ruckus, Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba, and Ubiquiti. For deployments under a couple hundred users, Ubiquiti works great if I'm not concerned with support or much reporting/inspection; mostly for the price point and I don't usually go above a couple hundred users.

    Meraki is top-tier, it provides deep inspection/reporting, some stellar features and awesome reporting. Their dashboard is ultra clean and the devices are super easy to manage. Ruckus (now owned by Brocade) is my second favorite, close tie with Aruba (now owned by HPE). They both work fine, have all the features I typically need, are fairly easy to manage, etc; generally just good equipment and not insanely expensive in comparison to Meraki.

    If you have the budget, get Meraki, by far they are the best in class. If you don't quite have that budget, I'd look at Ruckus and then Aruba. Aruba has a more affordable Instant line called "Instant On". It operates a bit more like Ubiquiti, but has more features and still uses a cloud controller; with a rock bottom price point. 

    Agreed

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  • You could be us 4 years ago.

    We are K-12 school with an enrollment of about 750 and approx 140 staff. We are BYOD for 9th grade and up and plan to be BYOD for 5th grade and up next year. In our lower school, there is a 1:1 ratio of "class set" devices for each student (Chromebooks, and iPads). Almost all faculty and staff have laptops. We had a UNIFI network as well.

    About 4 years ago we switch to Cisco Meraki and love it. Our WIFI supports about 8 SSIDs (4 primary and 4 back office) on as many VLANs.

    Our infrastructure is now 100% Cisco Meraki, from the MX firewall and the MS250 and MS120 switches to the MR42 and MR56 access points. We even have MR71 APs for outdoor classrooms. The end-to-end view in one pane of glass is great.

    I just wish we had put an MR56 in every room instead of an MR42 in every other room.


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  • We are planning on staying with UniFi, because of their products and we have had great support with them.  Additionally their equipment is stable and easily configured.  The only con I have with them is their non-standard PoE.  

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  • Pam927 wrote:

    I am not against going back with Unifi. When I came onboard they needed a solution and I had site mapping done. That's when we went from 4 Cisco APs to a total of 42 across the campus. What I really want to know is if there is a better option for our needs, because they have been changes since the original deployment. We have grown from 325 student body to 620, and we have gone completely mobile for all of the teachers and staff. I need a rock; but I also need forward-thinking....

    1) A device that can support more than 4 SSIDs

    2) Can it run WPA2 and WPA3

    3) Wifi 6 capable

    Cisco Meraki meets all these needs. WPA 2 and 3 support both with enterprise and personal. Each "network" (Organizational unit inside of meraki) can create up-to 15 SSIDs, but you can always create more networks and separate your equipment if needed to get more SSIDs. They do have WiFi 6 capabilities and have great high density capabilities.

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  • Hi Pam927​ You can actually have more than 4 SSID The Gen2 AP's can have technically up to 8 SSID's you need to assign a WLAN Group to each radio.

    I have 7 different locations running about 200 AP's I do agree that the lack of support is an issue and controller firmware can be a problem. If you have the funding you can go with Meraki or Aruba just need to be in top of your game to negotiate support contracts.

    hit me up if you need some assistance I'll be glad to help as I see you work for a school.

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    Tech & End User Expectations

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    Hey all!We are an IT team of 10 in a school district, and there have been some recent (and not so recent) issues with techs being snarky, end users being snarky, etc.We are trying to turn a new leaf, and want to come up with a set of expectations for the ...