Amplifi needs a USG in the family


  • Hi everyone

    I thought I'd share some of my experience with 4x Amplifi Aliens and a Ubiquiti Security Gateway (USG).

    TL;DR: AmpliFi should bring out a simple firewall / router device (without Wifi), that uses the same "just works" design philosophy (maybe with just a little more flexibility). It won't be a massive success, but there is clearly an unfilled need in the market and will make your customers happy. There are a number of existing Ubiquity hardware platforms that could be reused as is, it's really a s/w ask.

    Long version: I had a Ubiquity USG hooked up to my 1GBps cable modem, about 10 clients through the house wired with copper, and about 20 more wirelessly connecting to 4 Aliens spread over 4000 ft on 2 floors. I just ripped out the USG, since the sheer number of options and using two different management platforms made it too hard to do simple stuff. I'm a s/w savvy EE and perfectly comfortable with networking on most levels including rolling my own linux servers for firewalls and such, but the UniFi s/w experience is too onerous for what I need at home. I ended up re-learning much more low level stuff than I need/want. So now I have 1 Alien as router and the other three as RAMPs and a USG going back to Amazon. However this is suboptimal too for a few reasons:

    First, the utility closet that housed the modem and USG just fine is really not a great home for the Alien router. When I say closet I'm being kind, it's more like a metal shoebox stuck in the back of a walk-in closet in the worst corner of my home from a Wifi AP placement point of view. It's fine for a modem / router and a few switches, but it bad for Wifi placement. I am sure many people have a somewhat similar scenario: the cable modem drop is in a bad spot for AP, so you need an edge router to feed cat5 to a few strategically placed APs through the house. If it's not obvious, none of the APs can act as router remotely from cable drop since you don't have two cat5 cables from modem to said strategic AP position.

    Second, the current AmpliFi Alien management from mobile app only is a bit too limited when you get to 20+ clients, and want to do some slightly more sophisticated stuff e.g. VLANs for computers than are separated from high risk IoT devices, or QoS to keep Zoom working while kids on xbox and wife on appleTV, or a pi-hole adblocker. None of this is scary complicated, but all of it is way simpler than UniFi that was designed for managing a 1000+ desktop campus, yet out of reach of Alien apps on iOS. If that same AmpliFi design ethos existed on a localhost web UI like the Unifi controller, but dumbed down a bit that would be fantastic.

    Thirdly, I like the fact that the Alien's Firewall / add blocker is preconfigured, and I don't have to maintain it. Over time that is probably safer than a BYO Linux box. But I do wonder how safe / how effective ? A standalone box might make it possible to maintain the "just works" Alien approach yet bridge the gap to the "everything and kitchen sink" UniFi approach.

    Lastly, somewhat expected I did measure bit higher performance on iMac wired into USG, than wired into Alien1, and I would imagine if Alien1 got really busy routing wired clients, and wireless streaming, performance would suffer.

    So in short, I hope the awesome AmpliFi engineers would take a Ubiquity hardware platform like USG or EdgeRouter X and AmpliFicate it. It would be something that many or even most SOHOs would benefit from, whereas USG is overkill and Alien router by itself doesn't quite cut it. In the meantime, any recommendations on what to use instead of USG would be much appreciated.

    Cheers
    Nicol


  • @nicol_verheem Thanks for the observations! I will certainly add this to our feature recommendations for future consideration!


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