Barrett Steel increases network throughput capacity by deploying Gigamon solution

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As the company’s network traffic increased, UK-based Barrett Steel wasn’t getting an accurate representation of the traffic passed through to its network security tools due to dropped packets. A non-Gigamon solution was replaced when sky-high maintenance fees raised worries about reliability and ongoing costs.

An old firm with a new problem

Barrett Steel Limited is the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder. A family-run firm founded way back in 1866, Barrett Steel has seen many changes in the world of business over the decades.

However, as company CISO Sam Ainscow explains, Barrett’s IT department was facing a very modern 21st century dilemma. “We used to use SPAN port capabilities on switches to feed data into network security tools,” he explains. “But that just wasn’t working for us — particularly as we were starting to increase the traffic we were sending across the network. We could see that traffic was being dropped, so we weren’t getting faithful representation of network traffic being passed through to our network security tools.”

Initially, Barrett Steel turned to a Gigamon competitor but, after receiving initial promises of low costs, they were soon faced with unexpected maintenance and support contracts. “The renewal cost for maintenance with Ixia was eye watering as a percentage of the capital cost of the equipment,” says Ainscow. “And with the maintenance costs being that high, as a customer, you’ve got to ask the question: Is that a function of reliability?”

At that point, Barrett turned to Gigamon. “We have better technology in place now,” Ainscow said. “We have more expandability than we had previously and we have a solution that is achieving for us day to day.”

The Gigamon solution

To improve its network visibility, Barrett deployed the Gigamon GigaVUE H Series platform. Within the GigaVUE HC-1 visibility node, the company is running a bypass module that enables them to connect out to their network detection and response (NDR) tooling. Within that platform, they have the ability to run Flow Mapping and De-Duplication.

All this is packed into a single 1U rack with an embedded network TAP module — and with data centre space at a premium, that’s preferable to rows of taps and aggregators and consoles. And, as Ainscow describes it, “It looks really cool in the rack.”


  • GigaVUE HC-1 series visibility nodes
  • GigaVUE-OS Flow Mapping
  • GigaSMART De-Duplication

Meeting your needs

The deployment of the Gigamon solution at Barrett Steel went quickly; configuration went smoothly and required only “a couple of hours on the phone with Gigamon presales staff,” says Ainscow. “And once we were up and running, we could see high fidelity, duplicated traffic passing into multiple tools simultaneously.”

Barrett Steel plans to soon roll out the Gigamon De-Duplication feature. “We want to give decrypted packets precedence over encrypted packets, so we don’t have to look at both,” Ainscow adds. “That ultimately reduces the load on the tooling. And that means we can massively increase the throughput of our network while only slightly increasing the size of our tooling. Without the features Gigamon offers, we would end up having to invest in significant upgrades of our NDR tooling.”

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