Five years ago: PC server vendors close out clones

Blue-chip PC vendors are building a server bulwark
Written by Martin Veitch, Contributor

With clones clinging on in desktops and notebooks, Compaq, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others are making a big push to cash in on corporate downsizing to Intel-based servers, and continue to chalk up big growth.

Compaq said last week it had produced its one millionth server, scoring the achievement after just seven years in the PC server business. The most recent Dataquest market research for the third quarter of this year gives Compaq a towering 39 per cent of the UK server market for the third quarter of this year, ahead of Dell (9.6 per cent), Hewlett-Packard (8.3 per cent), Fujitsu ICL and IBM (both 5.2 per cent).

The firm sees its server growth extending its reach into the enterprise, and spurring a challenge to the traditional 'big iron' players. "Compaq is well on its way to becoming one of the top three computer companies in the world by the year 2000," said Vesey Crichton, director of corporate business at Compaq UK. The firm currently claims fifth position.

Another company making rapid strides is Dell, which has reported over 100 per cent year on year server growth for its last two quarters. "It's a major focus for us now," said Chris Hall, Dell UK market development manager for servers. "There's a lot of evaluation in corporates as to whether the next generation of applications should be running on Unix or NT and, on the hardware side, Intel-based solutions can come out at half the price of [RISC] systems. It's not just file and print anymore: e-mail and groupware application servers are still growing very fast."

According to Hall, the price of admission will make the server market a tough nut for smaller vendors to crack. "You're talking about a specialised chassis, relationships with big software vendors, validation of drivers and chipsets. It's a question of how much vendors want to spend. If their volumes are all from one country and they're selling a few hundred, do they want to make that investment?" Hall added that could make UK firms such as Elonex and Viglen could be vulnerable.

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