Business router/WiFi for 100-150 devices?

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Josh502

New Around Here
Need some help. Feel like I need to do this right. My current setup is a symbology rt2600 and two of their mesh APs. These are really not working for us.
We have a 20,000 sf building and I need solid WiFi for about 100 devices and about 50 lan connections.

Any suggestions? I feel like my router is struggling right now. We’re moving to dedicated internet but right now lan can consistently get 300mb down but most WiFi is like 5-20mb down... just horrible.

I do need features like assigning dedicated IPs to Mac addresses and port forwarding.

Thanks!!
 

Josh502

New Around Here
Need some help. Feel like I need to do this right. My current setup is a symbology rt2600 and two of their mesh APs. These are really not working for us.
We have a 20,000 sf building and I need solid WiFi for about 100 devices and about 50 lan connections.

Any suggestions? I feel like my router is struggling right now. We’re moving to dedicated internet but right now lan can consistently get 300mb down but most WiFi is like 5-20mb down... just horrible.

I do need features like assigning dedicated IPs to Mac addresses and port forwarding.

Thanks!!
@Trip someone recommended I ask you? Any suggestions? Thank you!!!
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Hi @Josh502 - Welcome. First, a few questoins:

How kind of internet do you have and how fast (down and up, in Mb/s)?
So ~50 wireless devices? (100 total, minus 50 LAN devices)?
Any VoIP / video conferencing? Any other latency-sensitive traffic of stuff that would likely need QoS?
Any locally-hosted services/servers? Or are you all/mostly cloud-based?
What's the floor plan look like? (Can you upload pics to the thread?) Is it challenging in any way, or just typical studs, drywall and drop-ceilings?
Can you add more ports, wall and/or ceiling, if needed?
Do you have additional IT support staff besides yourself?
Do you have a budget for this? If so, what is it?

Let's start with answers to those, then we can move forward from there.
 
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Josh502

New Around Here
@Trip Thanks for the help!

Right now we have a shared 300mb down... but in January we will have dedicated 500dn 500up.
Probably more like 75-100 wireless + 50 lan devices.
We use Vonage, but minimally. Only 2 lines. We have 1-2 users using Zoom each day.
We have a few Synology servers for hosting large files. We download hundreds of large files daily from the cloud but only on lan.
We are in an industrial warehouse where the majority is warehouse + about 5000sf of office. So about 15000sf of warehouse. Majority of wifi will be in warehouse with iPads.
I'll upload a pic of our floor plan and switches. Ceilings are about 24' high with the exception of the mezzanine's as indicated in the graphic.
We have cat5e run throughout the whole building.
Yes, no problem adding more ports or wiring as needed.
I essentially do all the IT. My background is in web development but many years ago I learned Sys admin on Unix servers... so I feel comfortable setting up routers, switches, servers, etc. What I don't know is how many wifi APs and best locations outside of the basics. Or, why my router is struggling so much right now... I can be standing directly next to it and sometimes only get 10-20mb down (wifi). A restart helps, so something leads me to believe it's just overworked.

I don't exactly have a budget. I've been looking at the unifi stuff which looks nice. Love the idea of understanding better what is going on on the network. Thank you again!
 

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Trip

Very Senior Member
Thanks for all the answers and the uploaded pics. A few more questions:
How many iPads out on the factory floor, and are they running anything bandwidth-intensive? Or just browsing, line-of-business app, etc.?
Can you upload a 2D blueprint of the entire 20K feet, with exterior dimensions? That will make it easier to mark up APs (although the 3D view is sweet!).

I can probably get to specific suggestions in my next reply. Thanks!
 

Josh502

New Around Here
@Trip Probably about 30 ipads connected to a webpage in safari. Basic browsing, not like downloading video or anything. We have an internal website that keeps track of all our orders and production. I do anticipate that number growing over the next several years.

Attached is the best 2d I have really. Total dimensions are 200' x 75'.
 

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Trip

Very Senior Member
Thanks Josh; great info.

Lowest hanging fruit is firewall and wifi. I'd replace the Synology stuff with a business-class wired router/firewall (in the network rack) and controller-based, scalable wifi APs. For router/firewall, you could do something basic like a Unifi USG or EdgeRouter 4, or for something more security-oriented, a pfSense or Untangle appliance, or full-blown corporate firewall like a Fortinet (right size would probably be a FortiGate 40F or 60F). For wifi, could definitely do UniFi; I also like Cisco CBW (controller is embedded in the AP firmware, so one less single point of failure, plus you get multi-master fail-over), or if you have the cash, go Ruckus, for superior interference mitigation. Here's a possible layout of APs:

SNB_Josh502_1.png

APs 1 and 2 (office ceiling) and AP5 (mezzanine ceiling) would be lower-power 2x2 (ex: Unifi AC-LITE, Cisco CBW140AC, Ruckus R510); these will service clients in the lower-density areas. APs 3 and 4 would be higher-density, longer ranger models, with 3x3 or 4x4 radios (ex: UAP-HD, CBW240AC, R710), mounted on the ceilings, or lower, on pieces of conduit, say 10 feet down from the ceiling; those two would cover each of the two main warehouse rooms. Roaming between all APs should be fairly seamless, although Apple devices have been known to be notoriously "sticky", at least on older hardware and/or versions of iOS, so that's something to take into account. You'll definitely want a system that allows for max ability to tweak roaming behavior; the enterprise products are tops for that (Aruba, Ruckus, etc.).

One other possibility, which may be overkill for your size warehouse, but I'll mention it nonetheless, would be CBRS (citizen's band radio service) based private-spectrum LTE, (provided your iPads and other warehouse endpoints were equipped with LTE/mobile-broadband). This technology allows for man more endpoint-to-AP connections versus conventional wifi, plus very usable signal at extremely low attenuation (think -120dB), so good performance for when devices are buried in the corner of the warehouse, behind metal shelving, and/or flying around on a forklift at 20 mph. Example hardware would be Ruckus Q-series APs. Shortly after purchase, you'd have to go through an application process to be licensed a piece of LTE spectrum in your local jurisdiction (that's how powerful it is!). Again, probably overkill for your size warehouse, but that's the way the larger installs are going, so if you ever have any plans to expand, just something to keep in mind.

Also, what is the room with a "?" in it -- a clean room, storage room, or just dead space? Will it need wifi, too? If so, what are the walls made of?

Next level to address, if you have the funds, would be cabling and switching.

Cabling - It appears you have solid-core Cat5e running to the patch panel, plus stranded-core patch cables running directly into the switches. If those stranded cables were used for long in-wall or ceiling runs, I'd replace with more solid-core Cat5e (or Cat6), terminated to keystones in another patch panel (then patched into your switches). Connectivity may not "work" any better if those runs only lead to desktops or non-PoE devices close by, but if distance is longer (100 ft plus)and/or carrying PoE and/or experiencing higher levels of EMI (perhaps from the warehouse floor), then solid-core could make a difference.

Switching - I'd presume D-Link is working well enough, but I wonder if you'd be able to consolidate a few of those lower-density switches into fewer higher-port models, for a more flat LAN with fewer potential bottlenecks. I realize just that alone may not be worth dumping a large sum on all-new switches, but if you were consider it, I'd look at models with 10Gb uplinks. I like Cisco SG or CBS, UniFi switches only if using their wifi, otherwise refurb enterprise (Catalyst, HPE 2530 and up, Juniper EX, etc.).

So there you go, that's what came off the top of my head. Any questions, feel free.
 
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Josh502

New Around Here
@Trip Man this was really insightful, thank you. I've been digesting it. I think I'm gonna go Ubiquiti for new switches and UDM Pro. Also getting the APs you recommended. I do have solid-core cat5e in all the walls, just stranded for the patch panel.

1. Should I run Cat 6a shielded to the APs?
2. One of the new Ubiquiti switches will have to be about 100m away from the main network rack. I'm assuming I need to use SFP+ 10g from one switch to the switch 100m away. Any recommendations for fiber or copper cable? And what transceivers? Think I'm going to get 3 of the USW-Pro-48-POE switches.
3. How important is it to hang the APs at the ceiling? Ceiling is about 24' high and I'll need to rent a scissor lift if that's the case. Is it possible to mount them on a steel pole like the attached photo or would that create interference? I could also mount them to the nearby mezzanine's but I don't know how that affects wifi if they are mounted sideways... and they wouldn't exactly be centered in the warehouse.

Thanks again!!
 

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degrub

Very Senior Member
What do you have now for cable to APs in the area ? any issues ?

What is the black body device with the clear lens mounted on the pole ?
If that is a lamp, you may need to stay well away from it. So the rafter or purlen may be your best spot anyway.
What king of temperatures do you get up there ?
You may want outdoor hardened equipment anyway if this is exposed to roof heat and humidity.

if you have large motors and other equipment that runs on 3 phase power or that can emit significant switching noise on single phase, yes.. make sure you use shielded cable and properly grounded shielding.
Fiber is the most robust choice for any of your runs to the APs or switches in the warehouse. It avoids the shielding issue except for local near the device.
You get maximum range when mounted as intended from the ceiling. If you mount 90 degrees to that, then you depend on the range orthogonal to the antenna which is usually less than half. Look for the polar plots for the APs. There should be an azimuth (polar) for horizontal and altitude plots for orthogonal signal strength.
You might be able to use a piece of angle or C channel U bolted to the column or possibly welded if you don't weaken the column by welding. Then mount as if on ceiling. keep it about 3 ft from the pole if possible. either way you likely need a man lift rather than a ladder for safety reasons.
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
@Josh502 - Very welcome. Fair enough on wanting to go all-Ubiquiti. Just realize the UDM platform has been a bit of a mixed bag stability-wise, but it seems UI is finally starting to turn the corner, especially as of 1.8.3 (3 days ago), or it least it appears that way. That being said, make sure you bring yourself up to speed by studying the last few release threads, to become fully aware of what you're buying into. If it were me, buying for a business, I wouldn't touch the platform until I saw at least a few sub-releases acknowledged solid by a vast majority of the user base. If what you see there now is good enough for you, and/or you're willing to just deal with whatever comes along, then awesome, go and pull the trigger. Otherwise, you could opt for a USG Pro or EdgeRouter 4, plus a CloudKey Gen2 for the UniFi controller. Running the controller on an appliance also gives you the leeway to pivot your gateway/firewall solution without having to then export and re-load the controller. Just some food for thought, depending on how you envision your deployment.

Regarding your 3 questions:

1) Optimal final wire to the AP is category copper (mostly for PoE, but also for multi-gig if you were thinking of 2.5Gb or 5Gb backhaul). You could use fiber for the bulk of the run length, plugged into a media converter with PoE+ ethernet and a short piece of Cat6a UTP to the AP's port, but you'd have to get power to the remote media converter location, and you'd forgo multi-gig backhaul over a single wire. So it really comes down to the traffic load you plan on serving, plus how much EMI the runs might be experiencing, and how easy or hard it may be to properly ground a shielded cable architecture. A Cat6a UTP solution might be something like Belden 10GXS, which includes a polymer sheath they call EquiBlock, that provides shielding-like EMI resistance without the need to ground. Incredible stuff, although it is a bit spendy, but potentially worth it for your application -- at least for the switch-to-AP runs.

2) Your presumption of switch-to-switch interconnects would be correct: 10Gb SFP+ utilizing fiber. You could go multi-mode or single-mode, although typically multi-mode is used for shorter, in-building runs, and single is used between buildings (and longer), but single is also very fast and offers 100Gb scalability at OS2, where you'd ideally want to buy OM4 class multi-mode for the same performance over equivalent distance. For connectors, LC to LC would probably be most "conventional". I would look for bend-insensitive variants of fiber, which are made of more elastic polymers and have tighter bend radii, which makes pulling the fiber a little less treacherous, although you still want to be very careful either way. On that note, if you don't have or can't install conduit with gentle corners for your fiber runs, you might think of something that could be "pulled" into place, such as smurf tube, or similar -- with fish tape fed through prior to install -- inside of which you could run your fiber.

3) Per @degrub's notes, full-blown ceiling mount is likely not necessary, and if you were thinking of mounting off of those support poles, I would definitely do something like a "U" or "J" shaped piece of pipe, either screwed into or ribbon-clamped to the pole, and mount the AP to that, facing parallel to the floor, to maximize the volume and performance of the downward broadcast "cone". If you can help it, you want to avoid mounting APs planar to the walls, as that will effectively rotate the azimuth/elevation 90 degrees off-angle, and skew your coverage. It may work for certain locations if the skew actually benefits a somewhat tall, narrow and/or directional space, but otherwise I would try to avoid it if you can, perhaps opting for directional/aim-able antennas in those spots if you have to mount the body of the AP to the wall.

Hope that helps again.
 
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coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I think you will be better off running a Cisco small busines layer 3 switch for your core. Ubiquiti does not really have that option and when they kind of make it work you probably don't want to be first with their buggy track record of firmwares.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@jpthsd - There are many reasons many businesses use *insert enterprise vendor name here*; and yes, most of it does work, as it very well should. That being said, one of the main facets of IT is right-sizing and right-scaling any solution based on the true needs and budget of the business. So far, @Josh502 hasn't stipulated a budget or detailed-enough requirements to make me think UniFi wouldn't at least work well enough for switching and wifi. If we learn more and something like Aruba does fit the bill, then by all means, it could be right choice. But much is still up in the air and it looks as though he's made his mind up on an all-UniFi stack (I would still select something other than a Dream Machine, even the Pro, for a business, as the entire platform is still way too buggy for production, but to each their own, I guess).
 

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