Server sales show signs of life in the fourth quarter; IBM remains top dog

Server sales show signs of life in the fourth quarter; IBM remains top dog

Summary: Global server sales in the fourth quarter are still down from a year ago, but are showing signs of life, according to research firm IDC. IBM has the market share lead followed by HP and Dell.


Global server sales in the fourth quarter are still down from a year ago, but are showing signs of life, according to research firm IDC. IBM has the market share lead followed by HP and Dell.

According to IDC, the server cross currents are showing some positive indicators. To wit:

  • Worldwide factory revenue was $13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Sure, that revenue figure was the sixth straight quarter of annual declines it was the second quarter of sequential growth.
  • Shipments increased 1.9 percent to 1.9 million units from a year ago.
  • Volume systems had revenue growth of 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago. Midrange server revenue fell 5.3 percent and the high-end market saw revenue fall 23.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

On the surface, that server revenue performance is so-so at best. However, IDC notes that the fourth quarter marked the first time in more than a year that any category of server systems showed revenue growth. IDC reckons those customers are coming off the buying sidelines for 2010.

By vendor here's a look at the standings:

As you can see from the fourth quarter stats, Sun continued to take a beating. Dell, HP and Fujitsu showed revenue gains. IBM lost revenue but gained share.

By the numbers:

  • x86 server sales jumped 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter to $7.3 billion. Blade servers were 21.4 percent of all x86 server revenue.
  • Windows server demand surged 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter with revenue of $5.4 billion, the highest mark in two years. Windows server revenue surged due to accelerating x86 sales.
  • Linux server revenue was up 6.1 percent to $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter. Linux servers are 14.7 percent of the market.
  • Unix server revenue fell 18.1 percent in the fourth quarter to $3.9 billion. Unix servers were 29.9 percent of the market. IDC said customers were waiting for new systems from IBM and HP as well as clarity on the Oracle-Sun server roadmap.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking, Hardware, IBM, Servers

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  • IBM top dog?

    The title is a little misleading. IBM may be top dog in total revenue, but that is because of some of their high end, high revenue servers (such as System Z)
    On the x86 and blade space, they are not doing that well.
    • Windows server up 13.7%

      See when the going gets tough, people choose the one that has true value rather than the X-wannabe claimed to be "open".
      • Novell has dropped the ball bigtime

        Great products,but still couldn't sell ice cream in the Sahara.

        Now I notice that all new downloads and patches are subscription based models.

        I used to love their products ,but man do they make things difficult to do business!
      • IDC can't be trusted

        if they show that Windoze servers are selling better then Linux servers then you know their computing model is wrong likely because they're using a Windoze server to do the math!
        Ron Bergundy
  • Fujitsu growing fastest

    Nice to see other people are finding Fujitsu to be a great alternative to the top players as well. We switched to them for our database infrastructure in 2009 due to their blistering performance and excellent sales and support experience. We couldn't be happier with the decision. This was at the same time that I couldn't get HP to call me back or Sun to listen long enough to understand we didn't want to run MySQL on Solaris. IBM is just average as far as I can tell. Dell is lost and has no strategy.
  • RE: Server sales show signs of life in the fourth quarter; IBM remains top dog

    Is this based on all server shipments? Is there a breakdown by architecture? I'm surprised to see IBM in the number one spot and I'm wondering which architecture(s) are spurring that on.
    • It's Because IBM Servers are Mostly Hybrids!

      IBM controls the HPC & super computer world server
      market right now. Even though Cray just finished
      revamping their AMD Opteron Jaguar Super Computer.
      Which is now the fastest super computer in the
      World (what does it run on? Linux).

      IBM supplies computers not only to many branches
      of our government (DOD, DOE, NSA, etc), but most
      of the World of Cloud Computing as well (Amazon
      and their own, for instance). By saying Hybrid, we
      are talking about the fact that they are teaming
      AMD's Opteron chips (and they will be killing
      Intel in the future on servers w/x86 process 12 &
      16 core Opterons), mated with their own Power 7
      chips. The only operating system capable of
      running on hybrids is....? Linux!

      The only servers that run credit card
      transactions, banking, your stock exchanges,
      Medical Research, etc are Hybrids and IBM
      Mainframes (they all run Linux). Performance wise,
      IBM's new Power 7 chips are hell on wheels number
      crunchers that far exceed x86 chips by far.

      Big Blue is just going to keep getting bigger and
      better after dropping their Microsoft Windows
      Licensing. After they sold their desktop division to
      Lenovo. That's even if you excluded all their
      Government, banking, cloud and super computing
      Lion's share of that Money'd World!

      Linux?'s everywhere you are or ever want to
      be and don't know it! ;) ....running your routers,
      your HDTV's, your banking, your credit card
      transactions, your web servers, your search
      engine, your web media servers (YouTube), your
      medical research, your car, your airline navigation
      systems, your game console, et cetera et all! :D
      ...your world runs on Linux!!!

      Now get out of here M$ snipes and be sure to have your
      wagging tail Microsoft tongues, tucked between your
      legs as you leave IBM's door!!! haha
      • IBM Planning 10 Petaflop Super Computer! :D

        IBM is swiping Cloud customers from it's
        competitors along with it's other businesses.
        On top of all this, as with Power 6 they will
        again be putting out the fastest most
        productive chips on the market, bar none!

        The Speed crown does indeed still belong to IBM
        now two years running. No question that they
        already own many of the technologies in the
        server market that even their competitors are
        using licenses for. SOI being just one of them!

      • Quick Q

        Any resources to back up what you claim? I did some quick searches and didn't find anything to support or discredit your claims and don't care to spend the time researching at the moment.

        I know about the super computers, but any links for the rest?
  • RE: Server sales show signs of life in the fourth quarter; IBM remains top dog

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