Global microserver consumption set to soar: Intel

Initial adoption of microservers has been very industry specific, but Intel is expecting uptake from more enterprise customers within the next five years.

Microserver uptake is set to grow rapidly, and will eventually go mainstream in the enterprise space, according to Intel Asia-Pacific datacentre general manager Jason Fedder.

For Intel, it is important to make a distinction between microservers and very cheap servers. Fedder, speaking at Intel's Cloud Summit in Bangkok, defined very cheap servers as being a PC on a blade, whereas microservers are used specifically in datacentres for low compute-intensive tasks, and therefore have to meet set requirements, such as redundancy. These servers are particularly well suited to scale out datacentre environments.

According to Intel, microservers currently make up 1 to 2 per cent of total server sales. The vendor forecast by 2015, microservers will make up 10 per cent of the global server market.

The growth in this server category is happening globally, but is more noticeable in specific industry groups for very targeted functions, according to Fedder.

"It will start with big media-management networks, surveillance or digital city networks, as well as with the big internet datacentres," he said.

Microservers will be much more appealing for companies that are building datacentre infrastructure for the first time than for those that are refreshing their infrastructure, according to Fedder.

One example of an early adopter of microservers is Chinese cable TV company Wasu, which is trying to create an end-to-end media architecture for cable TV content in China. The company has taken up Intel microserver technology for specific workloads, such as media transcoding, but it still retains much higher processing capabilities in the back end using Intel Xeon datacentre infrastructure.

"[Microserver adoption growth] will happen across all geographic regions, starting in small pockets," Fedder said. "It will go into the enterprise space, I suspect on a longer-term basis, but many of those workloads are yet to be defined.

"Our forecast says this will happen in the next four to five years."

Several vendors have made a play for a slice of the microserver pie. HP and Dell have both recently released their lines of microservers. Meanwhile, Samsung has made strategic moves to dominate the microserver market in the future.

Spandas Lui is attending the Intel Cloud Summit as a guest of Intel.

Updated at 12.09pm, 29 August 2012: the article originally said that microservers currently make up 10 per cent of server sales and are expected to increase over 30 per cent.