Commentary
5/27/2010
02:33 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
Commentary

HP Leads Resurgent SMB Server Market

SMB buyers at the low end appear to be in control as the market shows the first overall growth in nearly two years.



SMB buyers at the low end appear to be in control as the market shows the first overall growth in nearly two years.In a moment of rare agreement (well, actually, they do agree a lot) analyst firms Gartner and IDC have released figures indicating that the server market bounced back during the first quarter of the year, and that Hewlett Packard leads it. This does not really tell you which server is best, or meets your needs. It does, however, show the way the herd is voting with its money, now that it is actually spending some.

IDC concentrates on revenue, and its figures show that the low end of the market surged, with the sales for x86 units running Windows experiencing revenue growth of 31.5 percent. Linux and blade machines also did well, but everything else continued slumping, apparently as the buyers tried to sort out what Oracle's acquisition of Sun really meant. However, the big news that it was the first quarter of year-over-year growth in seven quarters.

HP was the leading vendor with 32.5 percent of the market, followed by IBM at 27.5 percent, Dell at 16.3 percent, Sun/Oracle at 6.6 percent, Fujitsu at 6.5 percent, and all others sharing 10.6 percent.

Gartner concentrates on shipmentsthe number of units that left the factory. Overall server shipments were up 23 percent in the first quarter, but that balances an uptick of 25.3 percent in the low-end x86 and blade segments against declines in the higher-end markets.

HP was the leader in shipments, with 31.8 percent of the market, Gartner calculated. Dell was second with 24.1 percent, IBM was third at 12.7 percent, Fujitsu was fourth at 3.7 percent, Oracle/Sun had just 2 percent, and "others" shared 25.8 percent. The difference between the Gartner and IDC rankings stems from vendors like IBM selling fewer but more expensive units.

Hardware markets can slump into financial as well as technical obsolescence, as the vendors lose interest due to low returns and stop investing in product development. That doesn't look like it is going to happen any time soon in the low-end server market, thanks to these figures. But technological obsolescence remains a possibility, as servers could get lost between the growing power of desktops and the growing usefulness of the cloud.

We'll see.

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