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Seeking recommendations for centrally managed SOHO/SMB networking gear

Hey there, I would like to ask for the advice of this lovely community. I was hired into a small business that focuses on Smart Homes/AV Integration for primarily residential customers. My position is to be in charge of all technology internally and networking equipment choices for all future installations (including replacement for current customers).

Many of our past installations use A/V Grade networking gear (Araknis, PakEdge). I find these devices to be lacking primarily in security and reliability. The primary reason my boss has stuck with these brands is due to centralized management. Because he will be the one fielding calls at 2am if something breaks, he wants the solution to be dummy proof.

As a hobbyist/nerd I currently use pfSense and Unifi for my home setup. pfSense (without 3rd party modification) does not have centralized management, and the Unifi line currently doesn’t offer what we are looking for with our next few projects (The rumoured UXG and Protect NVR are not something we can wait for right now).

With all of that said, I have found numerous solutions, but want some feedback, preferably first hand accounts of the following:

  1. Unifi https://www.ui.com/products/#unifi

    • Pros: Unifi offers the best value as far as I can tell. All of our sites focus on primarily 1Gbps traffic both WAN and LAN. Many also will be using cameras. The Unifi cameras tie into the other systems we need to integrate with. Easy controller interface should be easy enough for my boss and some other members of our team.

    • Cons: The UDM-Pro has had a rocky launch. The USG-Pro-4 is outdated, and will be EOL soon. The next generation for the USG is not released yet, but would be our go-to for most of our installs. The Unifi Protect NVR functionality is nice for home users, but it is worrysome that there isn’t a RAID for the cameras.

  2. DrayTek https://www.draytek.com/products/vigoracs-2/

    • Pros: They offer a remote management software that seems reasonably priced. Good reputation as far as I can tell. Has all of the features we need. Seems like a great value for what they offer. Some of our clients will take advantage of the LTE WAN Failover abilities.

    • Cons: I couldn’t find as much user reviews as I would like. Most of the information I could find was user testimonials or for use-cases that was very different from what I need to use the gear for. For example, I couldn’t compare any of the Vigor WAPs to anything I am familiar with. User interface is simple, but not as easy for someone less capable of managing a more complicated router.

  3. DynFi https://dynfi.com/

    • Pros: I get to use pfSense, which is both comfortable to me as well as the obvious performance benefits.

    • Cons: It requires SSH root access enabled on pfSense to function. It also has to run on another piece of gear that is running Java. Also rather expensive. Not a whole lot of reviews available.


Other solutions I looked at more briefly include Ruckus/Meraki/Access Networks/Fortigate/Untangle. They all had various ups and downs, but for the most part they all have re-occuring license fees that are simply unreasonable.

Any/All advice is welcome. I’m new to being the person that actually gets to make the decisions that impact the business, and I’m trying to not have it blow up in my face.

tl;dr
If you had to help non-tech savvy people manage remote networks, which solution would you choose?


EDIT:

We went with Unifi for now, but I am still curious for everyone else’s opinions.

Not sure what the availability is like in the U.S. but Mikrotik is very popular here in the E.U. and it is a lot of bang for the buck. Targeting SOHO/prosumer markets, they have a wide array of hardware and software, I think they even have remote management options, check them out.

The price is good for mikrotik stuff, but omg both the router os and the hardware are so quirky. And if you want centralized management you’re pretty much on your own doing stuff with snmp and ansible.

It is a small company, the advantage would be once you get it sorted, you may have a drop in replicatable solution. That puts you in the same boat as PfSense though. In either case the only way to get what you REALLY want is an option that requires more work on your end upfront. But once you have it it is probably something that can be replicated.

Ubiquity is probably the best off the shelf option for what you want to do.

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Unifi. Manage and control all your clients downstream setups via a unified console and cheaply.

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