IBM And HP Vie For Server Top Spot


Strong sales helped IBM tie with HP in leading the worldwide server market, IDC figures show

The latest second quarter figures from market researcher IDC has revealed that IBM, fuelled by a 24.5 percent jump in revenues, is now in first place alongside Hewlett-Packard as the world’s top server vendor.

IBM saw growth in all segments, including a 61.1 percent jump in revenue – to $1.2 billion (£723m) – from its System z mainframe business over the same period in 2010, IDC analysts said in their report released 23 August.

Big Blue also saw growth in its System x and Power System servers.

Statistical Tie

IBM edged HP, grabbing 30.5 percent market share in the quarter, compared with HP’s 29.8 percent, which IDC analysts called a statistical tie. For its part, HP server revenues grew 9.3 percent, driven in large part by “solid demand” for its x86-based ProLiant systems, both traditional servers and blades, IDC analysts said.

Rounding out the top five were Dell in third place, with 13.8 percent market share on 5.1 percent revenue growth – thanks to demand from SMBs – and Oracle and Fujitsu tied for fourth, with 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, according to IDC. Oracle’s revenue jumped 4.2 percent over the second quarter in 2010, fuelled by growing demand for x86-based Exadata database systems. Meanwhile, Fujitsu revenues rose 133.6 percent due to the massive K-computer high-performance computing (HPC) system in Japan.

The vendors’ numbers were part of a larger trend that saw worldwide server revenues grow 17.9 percent, to $13.2 billion (£8bn), with shipments rising 8.5 percent to 2.1 million units. The growth was across all segments – volume, midrange and high-end system – with demand for mainframes, Unix, Linux and Windows servers all rising.

New Unix systems from IBM, HP and Oracle helped fuel the growth, as did new mainframe systems from IBM. Jean Bozman, research vice president for enterprise servers at IDC, said that another driver was businesses refreshing their server environments after holding off from making purchases during the recession and slow recovery. Enterprises need the extra horsepower of the new systems, Bozman said in an interview with eWEEK.

“You can only hold off for so long,” she said.

Server Refresh

All that came despite an uncertain global economy, though that could impact server demand in the coming months, according to Matt Eastwood, group vice president of enterprise platforms at IDC.

“This was the fifth consecutive quarter with double-digit year-over-year revenue growth as the market recovery continued to extend from x86 servers to midrange Unix to high-end mainframe class systems,” Eastwood said in a statement. “While 2Q11 was an exceptionally strong quarter, attention has already turned to the market outlook for the second half of the year. IDC believes that weakening macroeconomic conditions around the world will serve to moderate demand for new servers later this year.”

IBM officials touted the 15 percent growth in their Unix systems in the second quarter, gaining almost 6 percent at a time when both HP and Oracle lost share. HP and Oracle have been locked in a dispute over Oracle’s decision to end support for Intel’s Itanium platform, which powers most of HP’s high-end servers, including its Integrity and NonStop systems.

HP officials earlier this month blamed Oracle as a key reason for a 9 percent drop in its high-end server business. At the same time, analysts had predicted that the HP-Oracle struggle would benefit IBM. IBM officials said that in the second quarter, Big Blue won 253 customers from Oracle and another 248 from HP.

However, HP pointed to the strong demand for its ProLiant systems as the key to its continued leadership in the fast-growing x86-based server market.

“As the demands on data centres increase, more customers are turning to HP ProLiant servers to capitalise on performance, power and productivity efficiencies,” said Jim Ganthier, vice president of worldwide marketing for HP’s Industry Standard Servers and Software business. “HP has led the worldwide x86 server market for the past 61 quarters, and we continue to enhance our product and systems portfolio with unique innovations to enable customers to maximize every dollar, watt, hour and square foot in their data centres.”

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