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Posted on Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 4:25 a.m.

Barracuda Networks to add staff in Ann Arbor office to support new phone product

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based researchers for Barracuda Networks have developed a new technology platform at their office here that company officials hope could challenge traditional pricing models in the business telecommunications industry.

Rapidly expanding Barracuda is introducing a new platform for managing voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) systems. The new technology, called CudaTel Communication Server, gives information technology managers the ability to manage phone systems without needing a phone specialist. It leverages open-source software principles to provide a Web interface where IT managers can easily add users and change features.

Barracuda’s Ann Arbor operation, which developed the product over the last six months, will handle sales for the new product. Barracuda has historically focused exclusively on data and network security products.

“This product equals more jobs for Ann Arbor. Expect it to be a significant product for us. It’s not a typical Barracuda product, so it puts us into a market we haven’t seen before,” said Sean Heiney, director of new product initiatives for Barracuda. “But we think our channel is well equipped to sell it.”

The company’s decision to market the product out of Ann Arbor will continue to fuel growth at the tech company, which announced an Ann Arbor expansion in November. The firm has increased its staff here from about a dozen last year to about 70. The company said in November that it would hire 185 employees at its Depot Street office within a few years.

Barracuda, a private corporation based in Campbell, Calif., also has nine non-U.S. offices, including three in China and two in Europe.

The company’s latest talent acquisition was Ann Arbor tech activist and network security expert Dug Song, a veteran of Arbor Networks who recently left struggling Web video firm Zattoo. Song will serve as Barracuda’s chief architect.

The new product aims to undercut the traditional pricing strategies used by phone technology companies.

CudaTel, which will be sold under a Barracuda subsidiary of the same name, will be offered at a base price starting at $1,999 about up to hundreds of users per copy. Many traditional phone technology companies charge as high as $100 per user, Heiney said.

“Telephone systems have been extremely complex and very expensive,” he said.

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