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The advantage that wins in portable deployments

Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:34 am

I thought a lot before posting this. I am not usually the person who goes in a vendor's forum and says "I am choosing another vendor". I believe that posts in a forum used for communication between an equipment maker and its users, should somehow be constructive, to offer something that can lead to more value.

Having said the above, this post is to let primarily Mikrotik know that, in a certain project, I decided to go with a competitor's solution. If you read on, you will see why (and this "why" is the point I want to get across).

I consider myself very proficient in Mikrotik equipment. My certifications (MTCNA, MTCRE, MTCIE) document this. Therefore I have no problem when it comes to building networks with MT, even with complex requirements. But what if, after you build something, its ongoing maintenance must be handed over to the user, and the user does not have the same level of proficiency with ROS?

This is the case I am dealing with. The network in question is fairly simple. It implements a star lan topology, with a few access points connected to a router. Some of them may be required to mesh, instead of be wired. Internet uplink is gigabit. Three vlans, with certain restrictions between them. One will be for the wifi, which will have to serve around 300 devices (mainly smartphones) simultaneously. The network will operate for three days (it will serve a yearly event), then be dismantled, then reinstalled next year for three days and so on.

Since the (small) volunteer entity who runs the event will most probably have to do the re-deployment at some point, ease of re-setting up the network, expanding it with more access points, performing minor changes in the configuration if needed and getting easy to understand, useful statistics were the main considerations, with cost coming up as a close next. So, even though I am a huge Mikrotik fan, in this case I could not ignore the competitor's solution, where all configuration of all equipment is done from a central, web-based, graphical, very easy to use interface, which also provides nice statistics. the solution also provides some IPS/IDS capabilities out of the box, which are also dead easy to enable. And finally, it has fully automatic meshing functionality for the Access Points.

It is not nearly as sophisticated as ROS and it turns out around 20-25% more expensive, but if it does whatever you need (in our case it does), it is by leaps and bounds easier to use and maintain, even for someone who is not a network engineer. In several projects like the one in question, this advantage wins the argument. I would very much like to see similar capability built into ROS at some point (CAPSMAN is still very far from being a complete SDN solution). Or at least see a third-party offering, even paid. The ROS API allows for this.

Thank you Mikrotik for all your hard work. In the past few years, ROS has made huge progress towards being an enterprise alternative to the big guys. I personally have complex networks running smoothly for years, using your routing gear. But as you are also clearly targetting the medium-sized client category, you should probably consider to put more effort in the ease of configuration and administration of small and medium-sized networks.
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Re: The advantage that wins in portable deployments

Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:20 pm

You've posted a thoughtful point. I think what you're feeling is what a lot of us who really enjoy using MikroTik feel, that they are so complex no one can use them but us. I'm personally making an effort to document some of the things that get asked here on the forums continually.

What I've struggled with is getting MikroTik into the home enthusiast environment. This is where the client will take over management. With MikroTik, that is not going to happen. For MikroTik to grow revenue, I think they need this market, or least have something that can enter that space. Since I enjoy their products, naturally I want to see them grow.

Are we really saying that everyone must become an MTCNA to secure and manage their network? It's okay to say that, it’s a business decision. It just means I'll be forced to sell and support a lot of you know who.

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