Brocade Communication announced an intention to acquire Ruckus Wireless, a provider of enterprise wireless LAN and service provider wi-fi. Ruckus Wireless is not a producer of the consumer wi-fi access points that most people buy for homes, but instead provide wireless for enterprise offices, stadiums, hotels and other public places. Chances are, you may not know of this company, but you've used their devices when you've traveled. What does the pending acquisition mean to the wi-fi landscape?
In the past, independent wi-fi firms have been acquired, including Aruba by HP Enterprise, and Meraki by Cisco. This leaves few pure wireless companies in the wild — Ruckus and Aerohive are the most notable, and if this deal goes through, there will be one fewer.
So why is Brocade going for this? One is to keep up with their networking brethren. But looking more into their product strategy, they want to have a role in where the user connects to the network (called the "edge"). Most people will not use a Ethernet jack on the wall in the future in the offices, and those "on the go" are already using wireless — either mobile carriers or wi-fi. On top of that, in the long term, the world of mobile carrier wireless and Wi-Fi network will converge with common services being offered on these platforms. Most people don't care where and how the data gets to their mobile devices... they just want their bits fast and reliably.
Given Brocade has a strong service provider business, it makes sense to work with Ruckus to create an end-to-end offering that leverages their strengths in networking with carriers and service providers.
For example, if a service provider offers a managed wireless LAN (sold via a monthly service charge to a retail shop), then the service provider can use Ruckus' access points at the endpoints (i.e. at the store), and Brocade's NFV (network function virtualization) and SDN assets at the service provider's cloud to deploy firewalls, or location-based services to assist the end-customer. Brocade can sit in the middle, offering solutions at all points.
There's an IoT angle to this too, since the "things" in IoT will be at the network edge, and sometimes connected via wi-fi, but needs to reach into the data center for analytics and data storage.
We'll see how they will gain synergies with their offerings, and if they manage to make something distinctive, it will surely prod the competitors to counter with similar offerings. I look forward to that.