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The wireless networking segment of the IT industry continues to consolidate, and the planned acquisition of Ruckus Wireless by Brocade Communications Systems for $1.2 billion is among the latest examples.

The acquisition reflects how end users are consuming network technologies, and that, in turn, is creating the need for more a integrated approach to deliver a portfolio of open networking products, said Pete Peterson, vice president of worldwide channel sales for Brocade.

On one hand, the industry is seeing widespread adoption of next-generation wireless networks that in many instances are replacing wired networks as the primary means for accessing backend services. At the same time, many of those backend systems continue to rely on traditional wired networking. Ultimately, managed service providers and internal IT organizations are looking to unify the management of both under a single pane of glass.

“Software and the cloud are driving a lot disruption,” Peterson said. “End users are exercising a lot of influence about how that occurs.”

To that end, Brocade is seeing a greater interest in open networking technologies that allow customers to reduce the cost of acquiring networking products, while relying more on software to reduce the total cost of operating those environments, Peterson said.

Although Brocade will have preferred technologies in every networking segment, the company will also remain committed to open networks that don’t force solution providers or their customers to acquire one particular technology over another. For example, while Brocade will work to tighten the integration between its existing product portfolio with wireless networks from Rukus, it will continue to support existing relationships with other providers of wireless networks that will enable channel partners to continue to mix and match products as they see fit, Peterson said.

In the meantime, Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst for ZK Research, noted that, with this acquisition, Brocade is definitely moving to fill a hole in its networking portfolio in a way that leaves Aerohive Networks as the only remaining major independent wireless networking vendor.

“Some people may feel that Brocade paid too much for Ruckus,” Kerravala said. “But when there’s a market you have to be in, there really is no such thing as too expensive.”