Fast-growing California software firm picks Ottawa for new global R&D hub

Shane Buckley
Gigamon president Shane Buckley says the California software firm expects its new Ottawa R&D centre to become a key product development hub. Photo courtesy Gigamon

A California-based software maker that helps speed up the flow of data on wireless networks for some of the world’s biggest banks and telecommunications companies is eager to tap into the National Capital region’s deep tech talent pool.

Network analytics firm Gigamon said Monday it plans to set up its fourth global R&D hub in Ottawa. Founded 15 years ago in the tech mecca of Santa Clara, Calif., Gigamon currently operates research facilities in California, Seattle and Chennai, India and counts more than 80 members of the Fortune 100 among its customers.

The company’s clients include eight of the world’s 10 largest banks as well as eight of the top 10 global telecom service providers. Now at nearly 1,000 employees, Gigamon is on a hiring binge as internet traffic has surged and demand for its services has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

With emerging 5G technology expected to accelerate network speeds tenfold in the near future, Gigamon is bracing for an even bigger uptick in production. The California firm is looking to add hundreds of new hires to its payroll in the next 12 months, and it expects many of those new employees to come from Ottawa.

Gigamon executives said the capital region stood out from a pack of global candidates for the new R&D facility thanks largely to its combination of highly skilled tech talent and geographic location just a few time zones east of the company’s headquarters.

“Really, it was an easy decision for us,” Gigamon president and chief operating officer Shane Buckley says of the company’s foray into the capital region, praising city officials and Invest Ottawa's global expansion team for helping pave the way for the firm's arrival. “We’re very excited.”

Network 'traffic cop'

Gigamon’s technology acts as a “traffic cop” at key intersections in the massive wireless networks that deliver millions of gigabytes of data to and from its customers every day. Its software separates the wheat from the chaff, weeding out duplicate information and ensuring that the right data is steered to each application as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“We become the single pane of glass for the organization to look at all the traffic, no matter where it is,” Buckley explains.

In addition, its cybersecurity technology hunts down “bad actors” and identifies potential malware and other threats so they can be neutralized before they do any damage. Among its users are the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“I think in today’s world, it’s very important for people to be able to continue running fast and staying secure,” Buckley says, noting customers have seen a “marked increase” in attempted cyberattacks since the pandemic began.

While upfront sales of physical software still account for a hefty chunk of Gigamon’s top line, more and more customers are buying subscriptions to its cloud-based products as virtual networks become the norm. Income from its SaaS offerings already makes up half of the firm’s annual revenues, and that share is only expected to keep growing, Buckley says.   

“The last six months, we’ve seen more investment in digital transformation than the last six years,” he notes, adding Ottawa will likely become the focal point of Gigamon’s future SaaS R&D efforts due to its plentiful supply of software engineering talent.

Buckley says the firm has already set up dozens of job interviews as it looks to quickly establish a virtual presence in the city with an eye to opening a physical office in Ottawa in 2021. If all goes according to plan, he says Gigamon could employ up to 50 people in the region by this time next year.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” he says. “We’re looking for this to be a very strategic centre for us for many years to come.”