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Posted on Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 7:05 a.m.

IT security growth at Barracuda Networks, Arbor Networks illuminates opportunity for Ann Arbor

By Nathan Bomey


Quality assurance engineer Nicholas Belluni is one of more than 90 employees at Barracuda Networks' Ann Arbor office, which is growing by about 10 new workers a month.

Melanie Maxwell |

Sean Heiney stepped off a charter plane in Houghton - 542 miles from his office in Ann Arbor - and stopped to take a call from a reporter.

Heiney, director of new product initiatives for California-based IT security firm Barracuda Networks, is traveling to the far corners of Michigan to import security talent to Ann Arbor - all in an effort to keep up with Barracuda’s brisk hiring plan.

The firm is hiring about 10 new employees per month for its Ann Arbor office, which now employs 90 to 100 workers, representing the company’s largest presence outside of its corporate headquarters in California.

“We’re actually, for the first time, looking outside the greater Detroit and Ann Arbor region, just because we have so many slots to fill,” Heiney said. “We’re having to look a little farther than the immediate area right now.”

Barracuda’s growth mirrors similar momentum at University of Michigan spinoff firm Arbor Networks, which was sold in August to Plano, Texas-based Tectronix Communications.

The consistent growth at Barracuda and Arbor illustrates the economic potential of the IT security sector for the Ann Arbor region, which can count on U-M’s computer science engineering program to continue delivering fresh talent.

The network systems and data communication industry is considered Michigan’s fastest growing sector by percentage of job growth, according to a report by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. DELEG estimates that the number of jobs in this industry will increase 38.2 percent a year from 2006 to 2016.

Tectronix plans to add 30 jobs to Arbor’s 90-person research-and-development headquarters in Ann Arbor by the end of 2011.

“They value Ann Arbor as a center of excellence certainly for IT and security,” said Rob Malan, Arbor Networks’ co-founder and chief technology officer. “We continue to be able to pull really high-quality talent from a local pool as well as attract it form all throughout the country to relocate here.”


Arbor Networks co-founder and chief technology officer Rob Malan said the firm is actively developing security technology for mobile devices.

Melanie Maxwell |

Barracuda, Arbor and NetEnrich, another California startup with an Ann Arbor office, represent most of the job growth in the region’s network security sector.

Meanwhile, the area’s security leaders are starting to invest in R&D to develop mobile security applications, which represents the next wave of opportunity for the industry.

Scio Security, a startup led by Ann Arbor entrepreneur Dug Song and U-M doctoral student Jon Oberheide, recently raised $1 million in seed capital to develop a platform to improve the security of Internet transactions on mobile devices. The company, which has been reluctant to discuss specifics about its strategy, reportedly landed its first customer within two months of launching a year ago.

Demand for cybersecurity technologies is expected to drive further job growth for the Ann Arbor region over the next several years as corporations invest in technology to keep their data safe and as the government seeks to protect itself from foreign attacks.

In 2009, 75 percent of government agencies and private and public companies reported some kind of cyber attack, according to Symantec State of Enterprise Security Report 2010.

“This increases the importance of reputation-based security techniques and other technologies that act to catch malicious code,” Symantec said in its report.

Barracuda and Arbor don’t release revenue figures, but both are benefiting from investments in IT security. Barracuda provides web filtering products and monitors network attacks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from its Ann Arbor office on Depot Street.

Arbor’s network security software monitors network traffic for more than 70 percent of the world’s Internet service providers.

The opportunities presented by mobile security, network systems and global cybersecurity issues will be discussed Tuesday at the SUMIT_10 conference at U-M.

A key theme of the conference is the influence of smart phones and other mobile devices on the security industry.

IT security consultant Charlie Miller, who is credited with becoming the first person to hack Apple’s iPhone, plans to speak about the mobile security opportunities and challenges at the conference.

Miller said major corporations don’t yet dominate the emerging mobile security market like they dominate the antivirus market for personal computers.

“It’s really new. There’s not a lot of established players,” he said. “One of the things you need to realize is your smart phone, your mobile phone, is less like a phone and more like the computer you use every day. It has the same sort of weaknesses computers have.”

As more users access their bank accounts through their phones and conduct various transactions from their mobile devices, hackers will devote more attention to attacking mobile devices, he said.

Miller predicted that within a few years, most mobile phones would be equipped with security software.

Mobile security is expected to become a $4 billion industry by 2014, according to ABI Research, which also projects that advanced security software will protect five times as many smart phones in 2014 as it does today.


Barracuda Networks occupies one floor of the office building at 201 Depot St.

Melanie Maxwell |

Malan said Arbor Networks is shifting more of its R&D focus to mobile security as Internet users increasingly access the Web through wireless devices.

“We’re moving hard at trying to protect that mobile data network. We’ve traditionally been more focused on fixed-line Internet protection and data center protection, but we’re charting that path toward more of a mobile data protection,” Malan said. “What’s happened over the past two or three years is there’s been a much lower barrier of entry for somebody that wants to hack on that mobile infrastructure.”

Heiney said a wave of investment in mobile security would benefit Barracuda’s e-mail filtering, spyware detection and network monitoring services.

“Mobile clients are enabling more and more web-based applications for a lot of platforms, so we’re seeing a growth in that business,” Heiney said.

Barracuda’s fast-paced growth means new jobs for software development engineers, quality assurance engineers, tech support specialists and product leaders. The firm is hiring entry-level employees and workers with decades of experience.

“The quality of hire we’re getting in Ann Arbor is one with a great work ethic, very intelligent and extreme value to the company,” Heiney said. “We’re going to continue to hire and build Ann Arbor as our largest R&D center outside Silicon Valley.”

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

As a current employee of this company, I can 100% agree and relate to what YouWhine and most of the others here have expressed. Barracuda Networks does NOT pay anything resembling a living wage and in no way attempts to make up for this by providing incentives, or a realistic approach to advancement. The turn-over rate for employees is approximately 1 year or less. You are forced to take standardized tests to "earn" your advancement. I'll further comment that these tests have little-to-no study materials or bearing on what your position in the company is (which product you support). And the minuscule hourly raise you receive is hardly worth the trouble. In the last year and a half, management has changed 3 times due to verbal abuse from the California office and general chain-jerking when it comes to all aspects of employment. Myself, and most others are constantly looking for other employment as Barracuda Networks is not, in any way, a means of growth or "a fantastic career starter."

Kylie Heintz

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

We welcome the dialogue that this story has generated and would like to take an opportunity to share our plans for continued growth at our facility in Ann Arbor: Barracuda Networks has created nearly 100 jobs in Ann Arbor and plans to keep growing. Every job at Barracuda Networks represents a unique chance to join a rapidly growing company with constantly expanding opportunities. Even for new hires who lack prior advanced technical skills, Barracuda Networks is a fantastic career starter: We provide a highly technical training program to support our diverse product line which features 13 products and spans the security, storage and networking spaces as well as a career path open to all of Barracuda Networks technical support staff. As many of our Ann Arbor staff have achieved, the career path provides clear and unrestricted opportunity for salary and wage increases well beyond the Bureau of Labor Statistics average (shared in the comments section above by Nathan Bomey) to everyone. Barracuda Networks boasts an excellent software engineering group, creating some of the most exciting products in our field. We are excited to have chosen Ann Arbor as one of our premier global R&D facilities, bringing great jobs to Ann Arbor with highly competitive salary ranges based on the skill, education and experience of applicants. Software development on more than half of our products comes out of Ann Arbor today. The simple fact that our Ann Arbor team has been growing faster than any other Barracuda Networks branch worldwide is a clear indication that these jobs are in high demand and we welcome any interested applicants to check out current openings: Kylie Heintz PR Director Barracuda Networks Inc.

Audion Man

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

These comments illustrate how Ann is an EPIC FAIL. In theory, it is a journalistic organ. In practice, it has become an uncritical civic booster. Rather than constantly assisting the relentless self-promotional efforts of certain members of our community, it might be worth some ink to ask some questions. Are we well-served by keeping jobs here, while importing the pay scales that are used overseas? Do we want Ann Arbor to become another Bangalore? The community is not well-served by Nathan Bomey's chummy relationship with the Barracudas of the world.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 10 p.m.

I feel like saying Barracuda Networks promotes what constitutes as wage slavery, but they would have to pay a wage in order for the statement to be true. Instead of writing a ho-hum fluff piece, why not ask these companies why they take advantage of the people of our state by bringing us these "opportunities". Barracuda is ultimately contributing to our economic issues by promoting wage deflation. Take for example the Barracuda support engineer, you hire in at around 12.50hr, and after a few years and hundreds of hoops to jump through, will never make more then 20.00 in their "career path". I witnessed employees dismissed for asking for promotions. Also, management has ZERO desire to retain the talent that they have acquired because it gives them the opportunity to bring in another 12.00hr employee to replace you. I don't write this out of spite, brilliant people work there that have to deal with too much nonsense from a company that does not value the people that work for them and this needs to be said for them. Hooray Barracuda Networks for outsourcing these jobs to Michigan at a fraction of the cost that you are paying your California employees. It is unfortunate more Americans in California will lose a job because of it.

Marc Williams

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

Barracuda Networks "is hiring about 10 new employees per month." What is the pay? What is the churn rate at Barracuda Networks?

Nathan Bomey

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

Here's average salary data for software jobs in Washtenaw County, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer programmers: $70,080 Computer Software Engineers, Applications: $76,180 Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software: $76,980 Computer Support Specialists: $41,390 Computer Systems Analysts: $75,060 Database Administrators: $73,520 Network and Computer Systems Administrators: $76,030 Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts: $70,560 Computer Specialists, All Other: $70,430


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

It's embarrassing how messy those telecom racks are. Will take 15 minutes just to figure out where one cable goes from A to B.

Milton Shift

Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

"...they wanted me to take 6 weeks of unpaid training and then take a starting salary of $25,000." After 4-5 years of not only unpaid training, but training you had to pay for and probably now owe money on... pathetic. Even "professionals" are now sentenced to a life of poverty. It is clear they really are just here to exploit the situation. Nathan, please stop sugarcoating everything that comes across your desk!


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 5:45 p.m.

"Interesting that the article does not address the pay from any of these new jobs." Maybe that's why they are having a hard time finding talent to fill these positions? Last I heard, attracting talent implies offering a living wage. Just like Systems in Motion who promotes inshoring as doing us some great favor. Basically inshoring means they will keep the jobs in the US, but won't pay a living wage. I went and interviewed with Systems in Motion for a programming position some time ago and they wanted me to take 6 weeks of unpaid training and then take a starting salary of $25,000. Then the CEO or whatever bigwig I interviewed with said I could be making $30,000 in two years like I should be doing cartwheels hearing that number. I was making $30,000 a year in a dead-end job before I even though about going back to school to earn my bachelors. Companies like these just like YouWhine said are taking advantage of our desperate college graduates giving them an alternative to staying local and flipping burgers for a living. No wonder brain-drain is such a problem. How much $ did get from Barracuda Networks to put a positive spin on this story?


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

Interesting that the article does not address the pay from any of these new jobs. From all the people I know who work at Barracuda, the jobs aren't that desirable. The pay and benefits don't represent a living wage. This company is not promoting growth, but rather it is taking advantage of the fact that Ann Arbor has lots of over-qualififed people and the state's economic conditions dictate that they have to take any job they can get.