x86 servers drive worldwide server sales

Servers based on x86-based architecture driving global sales of the device, with blade servers showing strongest growth among other form factors, Gartner's latest report shows.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

The server industry continues to grow with worldwide shipment increasing by 27.1 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2010, driven primarily by x86-based servers, Gartner reported.

The research firm noted in its Servers Quarterly Statistics Worldwide report that 2010's second quarter showing followed a similar pattern as the first by demonstrating "strong year-on-year growth". Jeffrey Hewitt, Gartner's research vice president, added that that while there were some "regional variations", all geographies showed improving marketing conditions.

Eastern Europe grew the most significantly, with a 46.9 percent increase in server shipment and 26.2 percent in vendor growth during this time period, Gartner reported.

He pointed out that x86-based servers grew 28.9 percent in unit shipment in the second quarter, comparing favorably with RISC/Itanium Unix servers, as well as mainframes.

"RISC/Itanium Unix servers remained constrained", with declines of 16.5 percent in shipments and 8.8 percent in vendor revenues compared with 2009 second quarter figures, Hewitt said. The analyst added that in the "Other CPU" category, which comprises mainly mainframes, there was a dip of 22.8 percent in revenues during the same time frame.

Among the various server form factors, blade servers had "the strongest growth" with an increase of 17.8 percent in shipment and 32.8 percent in vendor revenue for the second quarter, the report stated.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard continues to enjoy dominance in this market, posting just over US$3.5 billion in revenue. In comparison, second and third place rivals IBM and Dell Computer raked in US$3.01 billion and US$1.8 billion, respectively.

In terms of server shipment share, HP cornered 30 percent of the global market and saw a 23.3 percent increase in orders over the same period last year. According to the report, this was driven by the company's ProLiant brand, which underwent an upgrade in June this year.

An earlier report stated that the company's product refresh, which saw its ProLiant servers equipped with the latest Intel Xeon processors, was the largest blade system overhaul since 2006 and covered 10 systems. The move was designed to catch up with Dell, which had launched its Xeon-powered PowerEdge servers in March.

Of the top five server vendors, only Oracle posted a dip in shipment with bookings falling by 26 percent year-on-year, the report noted. Conversely, Dell was the fastest-growing server provider with a 35 percent growth to show for.

Elaborating on Oracle's performance, Gartner's principal research analyst Errol Rasit told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview that the fall in shipment was the result of two key reasons. First, Oracle is a new hardware vendor following its acquisition of Sun Microsystems at the start of the year, Rasit said, noting that the past six months of integration meant Sun's server business had "suffered" and customer confidence took a hit as companies were unsure about the IT vendor's future product roadmap.

He also noted that Sun's main server business had been focused on the low-end, RISC-based Unix servers, and this segment of the market continues to face dwindling sales figures.

However, he did add that there were "positive" areas for Oracle. These include its x86-based servers which were doing "relatively well", although not enough to reverse Sun's negative performance in the server space.

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