Dell is buying Force 10 Networks after allegedly passing on Brocade Communications Systems. And Cisco Systems is chopping 6,500 employees. Is the next round of networking industry consolidation under way? Hmmm...

According to Bloomberg, Dell took a close look at Brocade before buying Force 10. Dell and Brocade both declined to comment to Bloomberg. But it begs the question: Is Brocade in play? Brocade shares have traded between $4.64 and $7.30 in the past year. The company's current market cap: $2.82 billion, according to Yahoo Finance. Brocade's shares fell about 10 percent after Dell purchased Force 10, because some pundits think Brocade is now vulnerable to the Dell-Force 10 combo.

Brocade's financial story is mixed. The company delivered record quarterly revenues of $550 million, up 9.8 percent year over year, for its quarter ended April 30, 2011. But while the company's storage networking business grew 17 percent, overall Ethernet business revenue was up only 1% year-over-year because of weak sales to the federal market, Brocade said at the time. The VAR Guy will be watching to see how Brocade's current quarter shapes up; results are expected in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Dell is making another run at the networking market. Dell's existing line of Power Connect network switches include J-series switches (which are Juniper switches) and B-series switches (which are Dell-branded Brocade switches). Dell also offers M-series switches, based on Aruba Networks technology, for blade server enclosures.

Translation: Dell has its fingers in numerous networking pies. And now, Dell is making a run at the networking market at the very moment Cisco is cutting jobs and striving to regain focus. Also struggling: Extreme Networks, which is cutting 16 percent of its workforce.

The VAR Guy thinks the networking market looks ripe for more consolidation. Still, it's difficult to navigate through (A) layoffs and (B) acquisitions. Companies that grow their networking businesses organically may be best positioned during these rocky times.