Given the global pandemic times we’ve been living in, I’ve been writing posts about how our work has changed. I’ve written about video conferencing options, streaming church services, and my last post asked questions about how your church is planning to open up, if at all. Given our current times, many of you may be like me and have pandemic fatigue, so I’ve decided to pick an entirely new subject to focus on this week.
As the title of this post might indicate, I won’t be writing about the light switch, or perhaps a switch in a vehicle. I’m also not going to write about the Nintendo Switch or a video switcher. The switch I’m referring to in this case is the piece or pieces of equipment that your church uses to physically interconnect their networked computers, be it wired or wireless. After all, those wifi access points must be physically connected to a switch so that wireless endpoints can connect to your network and ultimately the Internet.
What network switches are you using at your church and what company manufactures them? I’ve seen nearly every type and brand of switch imaginable. Anything from those small eight port residential consumer grade switches on up to high end switches manufactured by Cisco Systems. In fact, for more than a decade I’ve been recommending HPE/Aruba switches to current and new clients, primarily because the feature set is there. Not only because these switches feature OSI model layer 3/4, but in most cases because HPE/Aruba stand behind these products with firmware updates. Even better, in many cases the manufacturer backs their switches with a lifetime warranty that includes next business day replacement in the event of a failure.
Given the above, I’ve recently been working with a new switch manufacturer and many of you might recognize the brand name, Ubiquiti. Ubiquiti is quickly becoming well known to network engineers as a low cost but robust manufacturer of network equipment. Ubiquiti not only manufactures network switches, they also manufacture other network equipment that integrates within its ecosystem. Speaking of ecosystem, Ubiquiti provides a locally installed software application at no additional cost that includes a dashboard and a way to centrally manage the Ubiquiti equipment. Even better, if a dedicated management device is desired, Ubiquiti has a solution for that too, with their Cloud Key product. Ubiquiti switches have a low initial cost, contain rich feature sets, Layer 3/4 capability, PoE, and are backed by firmware updates sometimes weekly. So what’s not to like or what’s potentially lacking? Ubiquiti really only warranties their products for one year from the date of purchase and support is email only. The other support option is the Ubiquiti community forum. Recently Ubiquiti launched an enterprise support option, but I had to dig deep on their website to find information about this program and specific details were lacking. Even though Ubiquiti has a shorter warranty period when compared to HPE/Aruba, Cisco, etc. the lower initial cost of ownership combined with features comparable to the competition, Ubiquiti switches have been a good fit for some. I’ve had the pleasure of installing Ubiquiti switches, gateways, and wifi access points. The installs are easy, enterprise functionality exists, and service from the equipment has been rock solid so far. While I can’t say I’m a Ubiquiti fan boy, I have liked what I’ve experienced. Ubiquiti is another viable option for network switches and equipment. It turns out there is room for another kid in town that can coexist in the same market as HPE/Aruba, Dell, Cisco, etc.