In this video, we’ll examine management of the UniFi Controller software through a quick analysis of UniFi Device behavior with and without the Controller online, as well as when, where and how to deploy the Controller.
We’ll then close by discussing best practices for Controller use.
Available for free download, the UniFi Controller server software supports Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, with Mobile app support on iOS & Android.
The desktop software package comes bundled with the UniFi Discovery tool for finding & managing UniFi Devices on the Local network via layer-2 broadcast.
When installed to a PC, the UniFi Server requires the latest version of Java installed, the Controller Software actually runs over top Apache Tomcat, permitting any network host to access from anywhere via web browser.
Although the Controller is required for initial setup, adoption & configuration of UniFi devices, the server need not be running in order for UniFi Devices to move traffic as expected in the Enterprise Network.
Specifically, this means that
A UniFi Gateway will continue to Route, offer DHCP addresses, and filter according to Firewall rules,
Even as Switches supply POE and keep VLAN
While APs, continue broadcasting WLANs, band-steer, and apply bandwidth limits.
In fact, for fast WLAN deployments, UniFi Access Points can even be configured using Easy Setup Mobile App, a standalone app for iOS and Android Devices.
The decision whether to keep the UniFi Controller online & connected to UniFi Devices following initial adoption & configuration, depends primarily on whether the following features are needed:
Post-adoption provisioning, that is, device configuration
Real-time Device Monitoring
User Traffic Statistics
Network Insights, like Rogue Access Points and Guest Authorization
And, perhaps most importantly, the UniFi Guest Portal & Hotspot system
Assuming the UniFi Controller remains online, consider first, whether the Controller will remain in close proximity to the UniFi Devices and users it manages.
If the Administrator remains on-site or the sites under management are closely concentrated within a single region, it may be a good idea to keep Local Controllers
However, if the customer sites are scattered and lack proper IT personnel, it may be a good idea to keep the Controller off-site or even in the Cloud where an admin can access from anywhere, at any time.
Keep in mind that an off-site controller means UniFi Management & Guest Portal Traffic must traverse the WAN, so where Internet bandwidth and uptime connectivity are concerning, Ubiquiti recommends Local Controllers.
With proximity in mind, as well as traffic requirements for total number of devices and users on the sites under management, consider the type of Controller server hardware to deploy.
In the case of smaller, localized sites, the UniFi-Cloud Key or even a more powerful Linux PC could serve the needs of the customers.
Hosted Server Virtualization platforms like UniFi Elite reduce server maintenance requirements, and ensure high reliability & uptime for Enterprise Networks.
Although the UniFi Controller itself supports a limitless number of Devices and Users, Controller performance depends on the server hardware and traffic to/from the Controller.
In scenarios where the controller is hosted using a third party, and, as the Enterprise Network under management grows from Tens to Hundreds to Thousands of Users, simply locate and restore the Backup UniFi Server file to a more powerful Virtual Server instance.
Regardless of Controller Setup, Ubiquiti’s Hybrid Cloud Technology allows Admins to manage multiple UniFi Controllers under a single, common Dashboard, without any license costs.
The Dashboard shows the status of each managed Controller, and includes summarized data of each Controller’s Sites, Devices, and Users.
Built on the WebRTC protocol, the Hybrid Cloud enables end-to-end connectivity for remote access, even in situations where the WAN IP address is dynamic or when sitting behind a double NAT Firewall.
To link a UniFi Controller to the Hybrid Cloud Dashboard, enter the SSO Ubiquiti Account of the Admin under the Cloud Access tab inside the Controller settings.
Among the most important, recommended practices for UniFi Controller management, consider the following:
To skip server setup & maintenance altogether, opt for the UniFi Elite Cloud platform, which grants Admins additional support, extended warranties, resilient storage, auto-backup redundancy, and other important Enterprise features.