Request: Cold Spare mode for switches in Unifi controller interface

Submitted by -
Status: New Idea

As is common practice for enterprise campus networks, we keep a cold spare for each type of switch we use. If a device fails, we can plug it in and get it configured faily quickly to minimize downtime. With the way that Unifi is set up, our best practice is to have the Unifi controller adopt the device and have it already configured, so that if another device fails, the spare can be swapped in quickly.

 

The problem with this method is that we forever have a device listed as "Disconnected" and the main dashboard will forever say "Your setup needs attention," a warning that loses its meaning when you see it 100% of the time.

 

The perfect fix would be to allow a switch to be adopted by Unifi, configured, then marked as a Cold Spare, so Unifi doesn't show a warning if it can't connect to it. The current workaround is to wait to adopt and configure the switch after a device in production has failed, but that uses extra time we don't always have. I feel like a lot of networks and organizations could benefit from a feature like this.

Comments
by
‎10-31-2018 05:38 AM - edited ‎10-31-2018 05:39 AM

Added a kudo.

 

Wish I could add 10,000 of them.

 

 

This would be useful not just for enterprises. Anyone who does tech support for far-away family could benefit from this.

 

 

When I was 14h round trip driving time away at college, I had my parents equipped with 2 of everything for their home network.

 

Back then, it was simple dumb hardware (except for the OpenWRT router) but it was the same basic idea - preconfigured and ready to go - the only thing they had to activate was the spare cable modem (Comcast needs to support this too).

 

 

Now even though I live 10 min away, lightning close calls have me thinking I should keep spare hardware on hand again.

 

 

I see two possible implementation paths here.

 

 

You could either have the ability to mark a device as a “cold spare / clone” of another specific device or have a “pool of spare hardware” list in the controller - devices that have been pre-adopted but not designated as clones of a specific device.

 

 

In the latter case you could use the mobile app to pre inform the controller that device X from the spare pool is replacing offline device Y so that as soon as it sees X it just does necessary provisioning as fast as possible (e.g you use the mobile app to notify the controller while en route to do the actual physical replacement).

 

 

In both scenarios, there’d need to be a way to safely plug spare devices in without them taking over so that they could have firmware updates preloaded (to keep downtime during a swapout to a minimum).

by
on ‎11-06-2018 10:46 AM

Just set the device to "Disabled"
That does the trick for me.1.png

by
‎11-06-2018 10:56 AM - edited ‎11-06-2018 10:56 AM

@denniswierThe problem is that you can't "disable" switches in UniFi, only access points. There's no option to disable switches. If they added a "disable" option for switches, it would certainly solve this problem, but that adds a whole new set of issues if the switch you disable affects routing to other switches on your network, not to mention things like spanning tree.

by
on ‎11-06-2018 10:59 AM

@hunterbuchananoh okay.
i know that it can cause issues,

but i thought it was possible on the Unify Controller
(being fairly new to ubnt)

by
on ‎11-06-2018 11:08 AM

@denniswierAccess points can be disabled by going to Config -> Manage Device -> Disable in the Unifi Controller. Switches do not have this option at all. Under Config -> Manage Devices, you can Forget the device, but there's no Disable option.

by
‎12-25-2018 01:54 PM - edited ‎12-26-2018 06:14 AM

@hunterbuchanan

Scenario:

  1. Config switch A
  2. Adopt switch B
  3. Copy on switch B the config from switch A (Devices > Device > Manage device > Copy Configuration)
  4. Disconnect switch B
  5. Forget switch B

Switch B will be configured as switch A and can be cold swapped since will hold the config locally.

Once done you just re-adopt in the controller.

 

Regards,

 

Edit: Another solution suggested by @depasseg in this post involve moving the spare device to a spare site.

by
on ‎12-27-2018 11:56 AM

@danmero

Do we know for sure that once a switch has been forgotten from Unifi, it retains its locally saved configuration after it's been re-adopted? And that the old config is automatically reflected in Unifi? Of course, I can test this myself, but that would be the main worry here. Especially since a blank Unifi switch uses the Default VLAN for management, while on our network we used a tagged VLAN on the uplink for each switch. If the cold spare went back to default settings after it was re-adopted, we couldn't communicate with it at all and would have to pull it out and start over. That wouldn't work, especially since we have some important equipment in production on these switches.

 

The spare site idea is an interesting one, but you need at least 3 sites to avoid adoption issues when swapping an old switch with a cold spare, and I just don't see my boss liking that idea.

by
on ‎12-27-2018 12:49 PM

@hunterbuchanan 

I did the re-adopt , copy config and did work as expected .... however on my test the management port was on VLAN1.

Before adoption the switch will work as previously configured. 

 

Regards,