This article describes what an ideal network structure should look like from a UNMS standpoint.
NOTES & REQUIREMENTS: This article applies to UNMS 1.0.0 with integrated CRM module.
Table of Contents
The goal of this article is to exemplify what type of network structure UNMS has been designed for; and what an ideal topology looks like from a UNMS point of view. Please note that UNMS is primarily designed for Internet Service Providers (ISP) who want to take full advantage of the benefits Ubiquiti devices provide. UNMS strives to offer advanced, fully automated functions that need a specific network topology in order to run as they were intended to. It is certainly possible to run UNMS in different types of networks and deployments, but some features may be unavailable or perform suboptimally.
The UNMS side of the integrated UNMS-UCRM application (referred to as the "Network" in the rest of this guide) is exclusively dedicated to the physical structure and real topology of a network. The focus is either on backbone devices and their placement on towers or buildings, or CPE devices and their location. The CRM part of the application takes care of the business side: management of real people, services, and customers along with their personal data.
- Device: a physical device like a router, switch or wireless antenna. It can be a Ubiquiti device or a manually specified 3rd party device.
- Site: a location where a device is placed. It can be a tower, roof, building or even a room—pretty much any geographical spot with an address. Sites are key components of a network and they create its backbone.
- Client Site: a specific type of location (site) with an address, where there are devices providing internet to a single CRM client. Client Sites can be paired with services defined in CRM, allowing business-oriented operations, such as blocking a customer when payment is due or setting a traffic Shaping on specific devices associated with a particular customer.
NOTE: The term Client Site will be first introduced in version 0.14.0. Currently, the structure is defined by Sites (which will remain the same) and Clients (which will be turned into Client Sites for better clarity).
- AP: an Access Point is a connection point with the potential to offer an internet connection to several devices.
- Stations / Clients: Stations or CPEs are the devices connected to an AP of the airMAX family. Those CPE devices create the endpoints of the network. On the other hand, a home WiFi router like an airCube will have a list of connected devices, called clients. Those are devices that usually belong to a customer (like a mobile phone or laptop) and are not managed via UNMS. So a possible connection between these could be: airMAX AP > Station (CPE) > home WiFi (airCube) > client (laptop).
NOTE: Please be aware that there is a difference between a UNMS client, which is a client device and the CRM client which represents a customer paying for a Service (more info in the CRM section below).
- GW: A gateway in a network. There can be several gateways in the network. These are necessary for advanced features such as client suspension, setting up a traffic Shaping client or measuring the throughput with NetFlow protocol. UNMS facilitates a way to automatically configure NetFlow using an EdgeRouter with firmware 2.0.1. or higher.
- Client: a person or a company, who is receiving a service such as the Internet or VoIP, for example. A client can have several services in different locations with different parameters.
NOTE: Notice the difference between a UNMS client, which is a client device such as a laptop; and the CRM client which basically means "customer"—be it an individual or a company.
- Service: One specific internet connection which represents an item on an invoice and is providing a connection to one or more devices in a specific location. In the future (UNMS 1.0.0. with integrated UCRM 3.0.0), CRM will allow pairing this Service to a Client Site in the UNMS structure and subsequently offer some business actions, such as blocking a CRM Client. An action such as blocking would translate into configuration changes of specific devices, that can be easily done thanks to UNMS and this integration.
Example Deployment Scenarios
Single location (Eg. Flat)
A simple deployment, where the customer receives internet service at home. In CRM there will be one client, a real person, with a single service. That service is paired with a specific Client Site in UNMS. The Client Site might contain:
- One CPE, connected to an AP which is also assigned to another Site.
- Behind that CPE there could be an airCube, for example, which also belongs to the Client Site.
- Or instead of the airCube, there might be a 3rd party WiFi router that belongs to the customer. A network element such as that WiFi router can be added to UNMS as a 3rd party device.
- Instead of the CPE, the client might have an Optical Network Unit (ONU) like the UFiber Nano G or UFiber loco, connected to an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) such as UFiber OLT or UFiber OLT 4, which is inserted into a Site.
For simple, inexpensive installations it is effective to use the airCube ISP (ACB-ISP). For classic installations where a mesh WiFi network needs to be supported, we would recommend the airCube AC (ACB-AC). For more demanding users it is possible to use AmpliFi, which is not supported by UNMS at this time, but will be added soon.
Larger Area (Eg. Farm)
A farm, a hotel or a school are classic examples of a more complex customer. From the CRM point of view, it is one paying Client, with a single Service for the internet provision. In this example, it is necessary to have all devices which the Client owns, assigned to only one Client Site. The general recommendation for this situation is to use Ubiquiti's Enterprise WiFi solution: UniFi. In the future, it will be possible to integrate a UniFi site as a virtual device into UNMS and to insert such a device into a Client site.
Once that happens, there will be a dashboard of the UniFi site available in UNMS with a direct link to the UniFi Controller. Particular devices will not be manageable directly through UNMS but only via the link to the UniFi Controller. However, the UNMS unified alert system will work seamlessly with this setup.
NOTE: For customers with more complex networks it is possible to use EdgeMAX, airMAX, and other devices: it is just not the primarily supported scenario. For example, using such device configuration may cause the dashboard of that Client Site to be rendered suboptimally.
Multiple locations (Eg. Chain Store)
A chain store is an example of a deployment where a single customer has several locations at a considerable distance with an internet connection. In this case, it is suggested to create separate Services in CRM for each location and pair them with Client Sites in UNMS. Each branch of the chain store can be then treated as a "simple flat" or a more complex "larger area" as described in the previous examples.
The repeater point is a relatively common scenario which can be confusing at first glance from the UNMS configuration perspective. From the geographical perspective, however, it is a single location, for example, a family house roof with both a PtP connection as well as an AP for local coverage. At the same time, the house itself is connected to the internet. In such cases, it is recommended to model the deployment in such a way that the end of the PtP and AP belong to a Site in this location. The customer's own devices inside the family house belong to a Client Site, which will have the same address as the aforementioned Site.
It is important to mention that UNMS doesn't support a situation where two Client Sites are connected to each other. In order to make the structure clear and readable, the Client Site must always be an endpoint in the network topology. Sometimes it will be necessary to create an artificial duplicate Site, just as described in the repeater point example.