Unifi Dream Machine Pro
Why I Chose The UDM-Pro
I started with pfSense when my house was first connected to FTTN. Around September 2019 I switched to Untangle. That is replaced by the UDM-Pro in late June 2020. Of the three, my favourite is Untangle. Untangle ticks everything I want a security gateway.
So why the switch (pardon the pun!) to UDM-Pro? There’s really only one reason - single pane of glass.
This is a concept where I can look at everything from a single screen (or a single app). Before, I need to go to both Untangle and Unifi GUI when I need to configure the network (Untangle for security configuration and Unifi for network configuration). Analytics are split between the two user interfaces as well. This really is not an absolute deal breaker, put simply, it’s just a simple pet peeve of mine.
Going with the UDM-Pro as my security gateway means I only have to deal with a single user interface for all my networking needs. This single pane of glass is the only go to place for network configuration, analytics and troubleshooting.
To be honest, the reporting provided by Untangle is a lot better than Unifi, but SINGLE PLANE OF GLASS!
Beware of Unifi Marketing
I am pretty sure Unifi ships out a lot of their products to online influencers. This tends to generate very favourable reviews. The Unifi gear in review here is funded with my own money. So my opinions will be more objective, and perhaps more on the negative side.
At the end of the day, Unifi products are cheap. The hardware is excellent, but the software is really really bad. Unifi does one thing exceptionally well - wireless access points (WAP). These WAPs are so good everything else really pales in comparison.
Unfortunately Ubiquiti’s business model appears to sell as many new hardware as possible, but their software development simply fail to keep pace. This is the reason why it took me so long to fully commit.
I am taking a gamble here, but with the UDM-Pro priced at a somewhat reasonable AUD$800, admittedly it is not a very big one.
Unifi vs Cisco Meraki
The product that matches closest to the Unifi line would be the Cisco Meraki. Both product lines attempts to simplify networking, the MacOS of the networking world. To cut the comparison short, functionality wise - Meraki just beats Unifi hands down. This is no competition at all.
The software (and firmware) of Cisco Meraki is far more stable than what Unifi can offer currently. And here are the biggest advantages of Meraki:
- Meraki offers true Layer 3 networking switches. Unifi has been promising Layer 3 support in their switches for years, they have never delivered (and likely never will).
- Meraki allows you to stack your switch. This high speed backplane is missing in
- Meraki offers true redundant power supplies, allowing you the option of using 1 or 2 PSU to power their hardware. This is far better than Unifi’s solution (which is more cost effective, but cannot guarantee the same up time Meraki provides)
- The user interface on Meraki’s dashboard is a lot better than Unifi. Organisation and layout on the Meraki dashboard is very good. You can go to a single page to view everything you need to know about a switch. You can look at the virtual stack and configure all the ports at once.
Unifi’s portal is just not as organised. Information is split across a lot of sections, meaning it does take some time to find the information you need. The Unifi dark and light themes are also not done well.
- Meraki has the ability to do packet captures directly from the portal. This is one of the best feature of the Cisco ecosystems, and something I do not think Unifi can ever replicate.
So why Unifi then? Price! You need to pay for a subscription to use Meraki. As good as Meraki is, it’s more suitable in a small business or a bigger enterprise. Unifi on the other hand, the price is more reasonable for home use.
Unboxing pictures coming right up!
This video sums up the flaws of UDM-Pro. It’s really only good for very small businesses, or the home.