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Ubiquiti UniFi Switches Alternatives and Competitors

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Jeff_Cooper
Information Technology Manager at King + King Architects
Real User
Top 10
Enables us to run our backups much more quickly and has a good balance of price, performance, and features

Pros and Cons

  • "SFP, speed, and 10-Gigabit are the most valuable aspects of this solution. We're an architecture firm and we sometimes deal with large files. Anything we can do to eke out even a fraction of a second less time to get something done over the course of a year adds up. If I can get 10-Gigabit running in my server room, which I am right now, even though we're only gigabit to the desktop, due to the client computers we have, I can get more performance from everybody. I'm ready to start bringing in 10-Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop once I get the hardware to do that."
  • "The web interface has been a little sketchy on occasion. Sometimes I have to reload the page to get things to show up properly, but the switch itself seems fine. The web user interface is a little wonky at times."

What is our primary use case?

NETGEAR is our distribution switch for our local area network. We have about 80 data hosts connected to our network. They go through another set of switches into this distribution switch. From there they connect to our gateway and to our servers.

The switches are on our premise and there's no special software other than that it's just a network switch.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved my organization because now the entire network is quicker. A lot of users tell me that things seem faster but they can't really elaborate. My guess is everything is just a fraction of a second quicker going through the network and that adds up at the end of the day.

What is most valuable?

SFP, speed, and 10-Gigabit are the most valuable aspects of this solution. We're an architecture firm and we sometimes deal with large files. Anything we can do to eke out even a fraction of a second less time to get something done over the course of a year adds up. If I can get 10-Gigabit running in my server room, which I am right now, even though we're only gigabit to the desktop, due to the client computers we have, I can get more performance from everybody. I'm ready to start bringing in 10-Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop once I get the hardware to do that.

It's easy to use once you actually read the instructions. There is some searching you have to do on the documentation to find exactly what you're looking to get done but it's all there. NETGEAR's forums were very helpful because people actually pointed me in the right direction when I had problems setting it up.

We use it for IT switching. It is the distribution switch for our network and then I have access switches that feed into this switch that are also 10-Gigabit. IT switching is very nice. I run my backups much more quickly. It works out to about as fast as I thought it would be. I'm quite pleased. It's definitely worth it for what you're getting; a lot of switches, a lot of networks. I looked at a lot of different possible models and products before I bought these and I settled on NETGEAR because I thought there was a good balance of price, performance, and features. And so far, it has worked out.

I have POE switches going into this switch, but I don't use this switch particularly to distribute power. The model I have is not a POE switch. It's just the data switch.

We have server aggregation. Our main file server is aggregated through two SRP interfaces on the switch.

We also have wireless access in our network, but it doesn't talk to this switch directly. It goes through one of our access switches.

What needs improvement?

The feature to change settings on the switch needs improvement. I understand why it's there, I can change the settings on the switch and I have to actually hit save to lock them in, otherwise, on a reboot, the changes revert to the earlier settings. I've forgotten to hit save a couple of times. It should have more of a big red obvious "You need to hit save" button to lock your changes in; that would have been helpful. There were a couple of times where things suddenly stopped working and I realized it was because I rebooted it and undid what I just fixed.

The web interface has been a little sketchy on occasion. Sometimes I have to reload the page to get things to show up properly, but the switch itself seems fine. The web user interface is a little wonky at times.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NETGEAR Switches for three months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far stability has been good. Now that we've gone live with them, I have not had to restart or shut them down at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If I had to do it again, I might've gotten a bigger switch with more ports on it because I'm using up more of them than I originally thought I would. But that's really not a scalability issue with the switch, that's just me not planning properly.

Only I am responsible for the maintenance of the switches. I'm an IT manager. 

In terms of size, we have about 70 employees, all of whom have ethernet connections through access switches to this switch. This is the core of our network.

I don't plan to increase usage much, if at all. This is what it's going to be for the next few years.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support. 

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

NETGEAR replaced some Nortel switches that were about 11 years old. They were end of life and they were not as fast. I had gigabit and 100 megabits switches. I am hoping to have these for another 10 years. I'm going to get 10-Gigabit and gigabit for my network speeds.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward once I figured out what I was doing. It was fine once I acquainted myself with the switch and with some of the features. I was not pressured to get this done quickly. When the pandemic hit, we all went home so I had an empty server room in which to work so I could try to see if they worked and if they didn't, I could try it a different way. I did not have to risk taking down the whole network with people there. That was just a fortunate happenstance.

My implementation plan was to set up this switch along with my new access switches, which were also NETGEAR. I set them up disconnected from our live network. I put everything together, including the SFP uploads, in test client and test phones, and set everything up the way it was going to be. About a month and a half ago, I went in, unplugged the old switches, put in the new ones, and turned it on. It was very quick and easy but it took about a day and a half because we have a lot of cables.

In actual time, it took about a month and a half to deploy. But in actual work hours, it probably took about four days because we were doing it in fits and starts because we were trying to move out of the office when COVID hit.

There's a learning curve, but it's not as difficult as I thought it would be.

What was our ROI?

ROI is a soft benefit. It's hard to know. I don't know if the old switches would've died this morning. 

We have them for two purposes. One, to speed up our network. Two, to refresh with new hardware that isn't a decade old. So it's hard to determine.

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

Technology keeps changing so you don't need to buy something that's going to last 100 years. Buy something that you know you're going to have to replace in five or 10 years and price it accordingly. We were told that the Nortel switches we had bought would last for 10 to 20 years and that we would never have to replace it. Networking got faster in the years between and frankly, those switches got filled with gunk, they physically start wearing out, and fans die. As long as you know that it has a five to 10-year window, why would you pay 20 grand a piece for a switch? I just don't understand that.

There are no additional costs. We pay for licensing, hardware, and cables. That is it.

The pricing was definitely reasonable, I don't know if I'd say low. I think all networking equipment is more expensive than it should be. But NETGEAR had the price point that least annoyed me.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Cisco, Juniper, Dell, and HP but they were all nearly twice the price of NETGEAR. I also had some hesitation to some. There seems to be some hesitation by some IT professionals to use NETGEAR for their enterprise and business networking, but so far, I'm happy.

We also considered Ubiquiti. We have a couple of Ubiquiti wireless access points. So I said, "Well, I'll just look at them." Ubiquiti was a possibility, but a lot of what this came down to was that there seems to be some hesitation in the IT world about using NETGEAR for enterprise and for business use. They do have a pretty large in-home user market. 

I have a couple of older NETGEAR switches that are at least as old as the Nortel ones that I just replaced. They have been on for 15 years and have never been down. I thought that if they're still going, they can't be that bad. I'll try it.

The primary reasons we chose NETGEAR over Ubiquiti, Cisco, and other products are because NETGEAR seemed stable and it frankly seems easier to set up, especially more than something like Cisco.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be: Don't rush it. Give yourself time between getting the switch and putting it in. That helped me do this properly. Have patience. Read the documentation. Be organized.

NETGEAR has the ability to label the interfaces and you can label different things on the switch in the web interface, while our old switches didn't have this feature. That helps me keep track of what's where. Being organized is really the key to all of this. When I am home I can dial into our VPN, look at the user interface of the switch, and I can tell you what's in every port on that switch.

I would rate NETGEAR Switches a nine out of ten. The only thing that would take away a point would be the user interface. The web interface sometimes needs refreshing and doesn't keep up with what I'm trying to do.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station 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.
ITCS user
Supervisor of IT Infrastructure & Cybersecurity at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
Reseller
Top 5Leaderboard
Simplifies the management process and allows the granular control of devices

Pros and Cons

  • "Setting up a switch can be performed prior to having your hands on the device. Once you purchase a Meraki switch you will get an email from Meraki with a code to add to your dashboard and then you can start setting up your switch so when it arrives it will download its configuration and be all setup."
  • "Meraki MS switches are great for pretty much all SMB networks and most enterprise networks. However, there are some higher-end functions that larger enterprise networks with full access, distribution, and core switch stack may find limiting."

What is our primary use case?

These switches are best used in mid-size businesses for access and collapsed distribution/core switching. They offer both layer 2 and layer 3 models and have a well-rounded switch feature set for a switch line. Overall, we have found them to meet just about every need we want in a switch. We have them as 10-GB solutions for high-speed SAN connectivity all the way down to 8 port solutions in some high-end homes. They offer ACLs, LACP, port security, access policies, and DHCP security, to name a few options. The methods that Meraki has chosen to implement some of these features via the cloud is amazing compared to locally managed solutions.

How has it helped my organization?

For MSPs, a cloud-managed solution is so much more efficient than a locally managed solution and having a single pane of glass with Meraki's dashboard is an easy to use solution. It is simple to switch between managing wireless, security appliances, and switches on the dashboard if all three Meraki solutions are implemented. This simplifies the management process and allows the granular control of the devices or in some cases global control of all ports. Change management is built-in (who did what) and sorely missing on locally managed solutions.

What is most valuable?

Setting up a switch can be performed prior to having your hands on the device. Once you purchase a Meraki switch you will get an email from Meraki with a code to add to your dashboard and then you can start setting up your switch so when it arrives it will download its configuration and be all setup. It is practically zero-touch deployment. Firmware upgrades on devices are pushed from the cloud and typically only bring the device down for a minute or two while applied. The built-in packet capture on them allows easier troubleshooting even when you are not onsite.

What needs improvement?

Meraki MS switches are great for pretty much all SMB networks and most enterprise networks. However, there are some higher-end functions that larger enterprise networks with full access, distribution, and core switch stack may find limiting.

One of the most challenging things to get used to is the delay in the time it takes for changes to be implemented. With a locally managed switch, you make a change and it is pretty much immediate. With the nature of cloud management, you make a change and it may take 1-3 minutes before that change makes its way to the device and takes effect. It's not a problem once you get used to it but when we first started working with Meraki I found myself making a change and immediately assuming it didn't work so I would change it again. Patience is your friend when making changes. They have a field on the dashboard that lets you know when the config is up to date. I'm not sure if this delay could be reduced or not by prioritizing communications but it is by no means a show stopper.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Meraki MS Switches for six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

MS switches have proven very reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Not as scalable as Cisco Nexus but not as expensive either. I think Meraki has hit the sweet spot on scaling.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is about 8 on a scale of 10. Meraki techs have additional capability beyond what the dashboard admin has so they can make some adjustments that you can't. Which is probably a good thing overall, but can be frustrating. They use packet tracing rather effectively to troubleshoot.

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

Cisco switches were used previously. The main reason I switched was the cloud management. Ironically, after I switched, Cisco purchased Meraki. I was concerned Cisco would mismanage Meraki when that happened but they seem to have stayed out of the Meraki business model for the most part. Cisco and Meraki are starting to share some backend functions (Umbrella for example).

How was the initial setup?

The dashboard is easy to setup and manage.

What about the implementation team?

In-house.

What was our ROI?

2-3 yrs.

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

The licensing model is hard for some to wrap their heads around and I understand their concerns. Meraki, like numerous other vendors, is too expensive for a lot of small businesses. However, if uptime is critical to your organization, the cloud management, great stability, and performance of the MS line is a powerful combination. Yes, there are other cheaper solutions out there and some of them are quite good. I really like the Meraki solution overall. Their license requirement means you always have support and next day replacement on all your Meraki equipment. 

They co-terminate the licenses so each license you purchase has a prorated impact on the co-termination date. You can choose to not use the co-termination date if you wish. The nice feature about the co-termination date is you don't have to micromanage each device's license. This is across all Meraki devices (security appliances, switches, APs, etc.). Purchase your switch with a 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10-year license depending on your planned use and you might never need to think about a license again as you will be likely replacing the device with something newer at the end of that period. Purchasing the longer license protects from future price increases and also saves money vs adding on to the term later. Meraki is an ecosystem that works best if you are "all in" across your device lineup.

I find that Meraki licensing is a polarizing solution as you are either happy with it or have an allergic reaction to it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

NETGEAR, Ubiquiti, Aruba.

What other advice do I have?

Meraki offers some free equipment if you participate in their webinars. You can get a free security appliance, switch, and AP after watching three webinars and try them out for yourself. The free equipment comes with a 3-year license. Obviously, it will be their lowest end equipment but it still gives you the Meraki dashboard experience.

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.
MB
ICT Manager at a wholesaler/distributor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good user interface and security but costs too much

Pros and Cons

  • "The quality of service is one of the main reasons we use Cisco in our organization. It's quite high and very reliable. The switches also end up working for a long time, so there's less need to replace them as often as others. We have some switches in our company that has been running since 2006, for example. They are quite old, but they still work."
  • "The cost is very prohibitive both for us as well as other organizations. It's very expensive to buy Cisco switches. Among our colleagues, we find that we're not alone in thinking it's too high. Everyone's complaining about this."

What is our primary use case?

We have a few different buildings within our premises, and we typically use the Cisco switches as the core backbone of our LAN. They are connected with fiber. We use them for our network to handle security and connectivity mainly.

Our core business is to sell beverages, so we're not your typical telecom or banking institution that would be a typical Cisco client.

What is most valuable?

The quality of service is one of the main reasons we use Cisco in our organization. It's quite high and very reliable. The switches also end up working for a long time, so there's less need to replace them as often as others. We have some switches in our company that have been running since 2006, for example. They are quite old, but they still work.

The security and the user interface are both good. Mainly, I end up using the command lines, but it's okay for me and the way I work. It's my preference, although it's not ideal for everyone.

There are quite a few features that Cisco offers, but for our business, it's not really necessary. If you are a telecom or a banking institution, you would probably find them to be quite useful.

What needs improvement?

The cost is very prohibitive both for us as well as other organizations. It's very expensive to buy Cisco switches. Among our colleagues, we find that we're not alone in thinking it's too high. Everyone's complaining about this. 

We have many switches that we've used sine 2006 and that are on the old OS, but we don't want to switch them out because the cost to do so would be quite high.

The graphical user interface could be a bit better. When we have new employees, we want them to onboard quickly and to be able to understand the switches. Having a better graphical interface would help us do that and help them understand the switches faster. While I prefer command line, many are not good with it or do not prefer that method.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution since 2006. It's been more than ten years, so we're quite well versed in the technology.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable. Cisco is a brand that's known for its stability. Our switches have worked for well over 10 years in some cases, without fail.

How are customer service and technical support?

We never really directly deal with Cisco, so I can't speak to how well they are from a customer service perspective.

How was the initial setup?

We moved from a different type of switch originally. We found switching over was quite straightforward and didn't run into any difficulties. However, now our office and our infrastructure are much more complex, so there is a bit of a learning curve. Companies with complex infrastructures will find that there will be complexity in the setup. They'll have to sort through that when they get started.

Originally, when our offices were smaller and more straightforward, deployment didn't take to much time. We handled it over a weekend, from Friday to Sunday or Monday. However, at the time, we weren't yet doing segmentation traffic.

What about the implementation team?

We had a consultant in Belgium who came in over the weekend to help us with the process when we originally set up the switches. Normally we work within our own team and have our own in-house workers that handle the configuration.

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

I don't handle the licensing aspect of the solution, so I can't speak to the exact pricing. However, I am aware it's one of the more expensive options on the market. The last time I bought a 24-port switch, which was a while ago, I paid about five or six thousand Euros. In this part of the world, that's quite expensive for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did compare Cisco to Ubiquiti. I was doing this research for a friend who was trying to open a resort but had limited funding. He didn't want to deal with Cisco as he knew the pricing would be out of his budget, so he asked me to look into another option. He asked that I look at Ubiquiti. For him, Ubiquiti ended up being a good option and was quite affordable. I believe you can also use Ubiquiti at an enterprise level as well. 

What other advice do I have?

We mainly work with Cisco ethernet switches at our organization.

Aside from the cost, the Cisco switches are quite stable and easy to use. 

If you have the money as an organization, I would highly recommend Cisco.

We are just a customer of Cisco. We don't have a special relationship with the company in any way shape or form.

I would rate the solution 8.5 out of ten. I would rate it higher, but the price is too high, in my opinion. It's quite good for me in terms of the usage I get out of it, but I find that I don't use other features that Cisco offers now.

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.
CZ
Network Operations Specialists at a comms service provider with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
A flexible and cost-effecting product with powerful scripting capability

Pros and Cons

  • "The wiki page that describes the scripting and other features is very good."
  • "Improvements are needed with respect to some of the security, especially for VPN links between vendors other than Cisco."

What is our primary use case?

We use this product as part of our network solution, but we also have customers in Cameroon that we have implemented it for. We design their systems at a low cost, implement them, and then provide training.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the flexibility within the advanced configuration.

IDS and IPS are very good.

The wiki page that describes the scripting and other features is very good. It is quite impressive for new users who want to learn about MikroTik.

What needs improvement?

Improvements are needed with respect to some of the security, especially for VPN links between vendors other than Cisco. For example, what works between MikroTik and Cisco does not work as well between MikroTik and Fortinet. I have seen some bugs.

The certification process should be improved.

Have localized or regional pricing would be an improvement.

I would like to see GPS tools embedded into the devices.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with this product for seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable product.

How are customer service and technical support?

I do not generally contact technical support. I have had to do some reading on issues that I was having, and I have always been able to find a solution. I have never had the kind of problem that necessitated calling support.

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

I have worked with solutions from Cisco, Juniper, and Fortinet. The type of project dictates which product works best in the environment.

How was the initial setup?

I find the initial setup to be easy. It may be more complex for people just getting started within MikroTik, although it should be straightforward even for junior engineers.

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

MikroTik is really cheap compared to the competitors. They are the cheapest ones in Cameroon except for Ubiquiti at the router level.

What other advice do I have?

This solution has improved a great deal over time and in many domains. They have hired experts from around the world, from vendors such as Cisco, to help improve the product. Some examples are scripting has improved, along with advanced routing techniques, and wireless device support. However, the biggest improvements are in cloud routers.

Normally, every two months at the maximum, new updates and firmware is released for the devices. It is really amazing. It is like the developers do not sleep at all. I am consistently impressed with how their technology is advancing.

Overall, this is a product that works well.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MG
National Information Systems Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5
Very straightforward with lots of features but the certifications should be more transparent

Pros and Cons

  • "The interface is very straightforward."
  • "We need to understand a bit more about certifications and knowledge for understanding capabilities. The solution should make that more clear to its users."

What is our primary use case?

We have physical hosts across multiple data centers and primarily use the solution to lay network fabric that can support the amount of throughput that we need to our HA and service ports.

What is most valuable?

The port analytics are the most valuable aspect of the solution for our organization. When we start getting into the FortiManagers and some of their analytics tools, it becomes very interesting for us.

The product's got a thousand features, and we're probably using only 10% of them.

The interface is very straightforward.

What needs improvement?

We need to understand a bit more about certifications and knowledge for understanding capabilities. The solution should make that more clear to its users.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with stability. There haven't been bugs or glitches that I've seen. I haven't witnessed a crash. It's been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution is fine for our organization's purposes. Those companies that need to expand it should have not problem doing so.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've contacted technical support on several occasions. They've been fine. We have no complaints. We're satisfied with their level of service.

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

We also currently use Cisco and Ubiquiti solutions alongside Fortiswitch. The main difference between the three is the pricing. It's all worlds apart. The features, on the other hand, are pretty much the same. On Ubiquiti, however, we just have to get to the information a bit differently.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It wasn't complex at all. We found it to be relatively painless.

What other advice do I have?

We're Fortinet partners.

We are both using the solution and providing it to our customers.

The size of the clients we deal with vary. Some are small. Some are mining entities.

I'd recommend the solution. I'd rate it seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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