This article describes what an ideal network structure should look like from a UISP standpoint.
Table of Contents
The goal of this article is to exemplify what type of network structure UISP has been designed for; and what an ideal topology looks like from a UISP point of view. Please note that UISP is primarily designed for Internet Service Providers (ISP) who want to take full advantage of the benefits Ubiquiti devices provide. UISP 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 UISP in different types of networks and deployments, but some features may be unavailable or perform suboptimally.
The UISP side of the integrated UISP-UCRM application (referred to as the "Network module" 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 module 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.
- 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 UISP. 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 UISP 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 module. 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. UISP 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 UISP 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 that represents an item on an invoice and is providing a connection to one or more devices in a specific location.
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 UISP. 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 UISP 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.
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 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 an UniFi site as a virtual device into UISP and to insert such a device into a Client site.
Once that happens, there will be a dashboard of the UniFi site available in UISP with a direct link to the UniFi Controller. Particular devices will not be manageable directly through UISP but only via the link to the UniFi Controller. However, the UISP unified alert system will work seamlessly with this setup.
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 UISP. 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 that can be confusing at first glance from the UISP 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.