Exploring the UniFi – Wifi & Software Defined Networking Solution

It has been a while since I have blogged about non-Microsoft technology. Well I recently moved to a new house and figured this was a good reason to upgrade my network and wifi equipment. I decided to go with Ubiquiti Networks – UniFi line. They have a physical hardware and Software Defined Networking (SDN) combo that I deployed. After deploying Unifi I realized how bad the previous wifi solutions I have used are and wanted to blog about Unifi’s solution. Lets jump in. Here is a list and pictures of the gear for my setup:

1 x UniFi® Security Gateway (Enterprise Gateway Router & Firewall with Gigabit Ethernet)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi-routing/usg

1 x UniFi® Switch PoE 24 (24 port Managed PoE+ Gigabit Switch with SFP)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi-switching/unifi-switch-poe

2 x UniFi® AP AC LITE (802.11ac Dual Radio Access Point)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-lite

This gear is enterprise level stuff at consumer level pricing!

NOTE: I originally also bought the UniFi® Cloud Key. This is basically an embedded server that runs the UniFi Controller software for managing all the network gear. It kept rebooting every 5 minutes and was super-hot. I ended up returning it after talking to tech support. I will either buy one in the future when they fix it or I will just run the UniFi Controller software on my own server.

I decided to go with all Unifi gear because it works seamlessly together. The gear overall has great designs especially the AP’s. The AP’s mount to a wall or ceiling and blend in like smoke detectors. The real star in the Unifi solution though is the UniFi Controller software. The UniFi Controller software gives you centralized management of all of your network gear. With the controller software you can Visualize the network in maps, get performance charts with real-time graphs, receive outage notifications and custom alerts, manage updates and schedule tasks, set up alerts, apply mass-configuration changes, get deep insights into metrics, setup VLANs, multiple wifi networks, access schedules, setup guest networks and more. I know this is just for my home network but I am a technical geek and am super excited to have this level of networking in my home. Now let’s explorer the UniFi Controller software on my setup.

In the UniFi Controller software you can add all of your devices. The following screenshot shows this. You can manage the devices from here such as rebooting, upgrading firmware, locating them and more. Something cool about locating the devices is that when you click on locate it makes the blue light the device has flash.

One of my favorite features of the UniFi Controller software is the ability to have network maps. You can upload custom floor plans into the UniFi Controller software and then you can place your devices on the map. In my scenario I uploaded maps for 3 floors. This screenshot shows the lower floor with the gateway and switch.

I have a main level map that has one of the AP’s.

I then have an upper map with the second AP. Something else to note about these maps when you have an AP shown is that you can display wifi coverage. You can should 2G or 5G coverage.

From the maps section of the UniFi Controller software you can also switch to the topology view. The topology view gives you a tree view of your devices and clients that are connected to devices. In the following screenshot you can see clients that are connected via CAT6 to the 24 port switch and you can see what clients are connected to each wifi AP. Something else shown in the screenshot is properties of a client. You can get device info, stats, and even deep packet inspection.

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Tool for Logging outgoing SCSM email issues

Recently I was working on a Service Manager project and outgoing email was not working properly.

The SMTP channel was setup properly. I ran a telnet session and attempted to send an email via telnet. Well the telnet session would connect just fine to the Exchange server but then would disconnect as soon as I tried to run some telnet commands.

I knew this was odd as I have never seen this before. There must have been an issue on the Exchange  server or a policy to disconnect telnet sessions.

I needed a better way to troubleshoot this issue before I went back to the Exchange admin.

I ran across a freeware tool called SendSMTP that was a huge help.

The tool can run somewhere and send emails via a GUI or even via command line.

This tool also does not install the .exe just runs right from a folder on the server so it is portable and can be removed easily after you are done testing/troubleshooting.

It also lets you specify many settings such as host, authentication, timeout and more.

The reason this tool is super helpful is because it has some built in logging.

As you can see in the following screenshots you can set the logging levels you want.

SendSMTP1
After you test sending an email you can either view either of the two log files
by clicking on View Log or by clicking on the Log tab.

SendSMTP2

I loaded this tool on the SCSM server and then tested sending an email both anonymously and using authentication. Both failed.

Because of the logging I was able to determine that the connection keeps being reset by the Exchange server as there are some access denied issues.

You can see the log as shown on the tools Log tab in the following screenshot.

SendSMTP3

I was able to give this directly to the Exchange admin for further troubleshooting. 🙂

I wanted to share this on my blog as this tool might come in useful for someone else as well.

You can download SendSMTP here:

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New SCORCH tool – Custom Designer Startup

I received an email today from a SCORCH guru about a script that he recently made for Orchestrator. He made this available for download today. The tool allows you to select a SCORCH server when launching designer.  His name is Mark Monson and here is the official description on what the tool does.

 

We all know that the Runbook Designer always connects to the server you were last connected to, and has no built-in memory of servers y...

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Export computer list from Active Directory

Recently I needed to pull a large list of servers from Active Directory based on a common term in the computer name. This common term was not at the front of the name or at the end but in the middle of the computer name on each of these servers. Because of this I had to do a LDAP Query using the wildcard at the beginning and end of term. Another thing is that these servers were all over the place so they were not in a single OU...

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Simulate low disk space to trigger SCOM alert

Here is another tool that can be used to help you tune or demo SCOM. This tool is called Philip and is a disk space filler.

This tool can be used to fill up space on a hard drive so an alert can be triggered on SCOM. The speed at which this tool generates the space will save you time from having to copy data to a hard drive and delete it...

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Network device emulation in the cloud

There has been discussion lately around running SCOM 2012 and other SC products in the cloud for DEMO and POC purposes. One problem with running SCOM in a cloud solution is not having access to network device/s. There is a solution to this. You can run a network device emulator. This is available as software and will simulate a full network device that SCOM can then discover and monitor...

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Orchestrator Runbook Examples

Are you learning System Center Orchestrator 2012? If yes, you can download some example runbooks to help you practice on Orchestrator. These can be downloaded from codeplex here: http://orchestrator.codeplex.com/releases/view/86195

There are 43 total runbooks most are for each of the products in the System Center 2012 stack but there are a few for general administrative tasks.

You need to do is import them and make sure your global co...

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Exchange Server Deployment Assistant

Here is another great tool from Microsoft. This is the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant. It is for Exchange 2010 deployments. It can assist you in creating a step by step plan for your Exchange deployment. It can help with On-premise, Cloud, or Exchange Hybrid deployments. This tool will also help you with upgrade scenarios.

Basically the tool will ask you a series of questions about your environment and how you want to setup Exch...

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SharePoint PowerShell cmdlet Builder

Microsoft has released a web based tool that can be used to build PowerShell cmdlets for SharePoint. This is a great tool for those that are new to SharePoint PowerShell or PowerShell in general. It allows you to drag and drop a PowerShell verb and noun into a design surface and then input your specific SharePoint information such as farm, site collection database etc to complete the cmdlet...

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What wireless access point am I connected to?

I was setting up multiple wireless access points with the same security and the same SSID. I had no way in windows to tell which AP I was connecting to. I needed to know because as I moved through the office I needed to ensure the computer was jumping onto the AP with the strongest signal in that area.  One of my IT staff found a great tool that would tell me this information. This tool is called inSSIDer 2...

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