Analysts See Hope in Server Sales Data -- Especially x86

By Steve Wexler  |  Posted 2009-12-02 Email Print this article Print


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Server shipments and revenues were both down for Q309, but both IDC and Gartner are optimistic that the worst is behind us; in fact IDC is looking for 13% growth sequentially in the next quarter.

Both Gartner and IDC have released reports on server shipments and sales for the third quarter of 2009, and while the numbers continue to plummet, there were rays of hope, especially in the commodity x86 segment.

Gartner put worldwide shipments at 1.9 million units, down 17.1 percent year-over-year, while IDC reported shipments down 17.9 percent. Revenues were down 15.5 percent to $10.7 billion and 17.3 percent to $10.4 billion, respectively.

IDC was also about the results, with the market exceeding expectations, with the x86 server leading the way. In fact, x86 server revenues experienced their largest sequential quarterly revenue increase in nearly five years.

Even better news, Daniel Harrington, research analyst, Enterprise Server Group, IDC, says they're predicting that the server market will grow around 13 percent in the first quarter of 2010, provided there are no surprises in Q409.

"It's important to note that it's really a sign of rebound in the market (and) it will be an x86-led rebound."

Gartner also noted that sequentially, shipments and revenues increased 13.8 and 10.2 percent, respectively. It says that suggests that the market as a whole is showing signs of stabilization as we move toward the end of 2009.

Both companies listed IBM in first place for server revenues with just a tenth of a percent difference -- 31.7 percent (Gartner) or 31.8 percent (IDC). HP held down second place -- 30.2 or 30.9 percent -- followed by Dell (13.4/13.5%), Sun (7.4/7.5%) and Fujitsu (5.2/5.7%).

According to both research companies, Sun took the biggest hit, shrinking 32.3/35%, followed by HP (-15.1/16.8%), IBM (-12.3/12.9%), Fujitsu (-10.8/8.2%) and Dell (-5.1/6.8%). Of the five top vendors, only Sun failed to record sequential revenue growth.

From a shipment perspective, Gartner reported that HP held on to top spot with 32.1%, followed by Dell (22.8), IBM (22.8%), Fujitsu (3.5%) and Sun (2.6%). Sun again suffered the biggest decline (-38.1%), followed by IBM (-20.1%), HP (-15%), Dell (-12.6%) and Fujitsu (-9%).
IDC says the 12.4% quarter-over-quarter growth in Q3 was the largest sequential unit growth since 2005. Volume systems revenue declined 14.7% year over year, but it was midrange enterprise servers that had the biggest drop -- 23.4% -- while high-end servers were down 19.3%.

The blade server market segment, accounting for $1.4 billion in sales, or 13.6% of server revenues, has returned to quarterly revenue growth with factory revenue increasing 1.2% year over year on a 14% year-over-year shipment decline. IDC says Big Blue turned in the best performance of the top five OEMs, gaining 6% market share on 27.2% year-over-year factory revenue growth. HP has almost double IBM's market share, at 50.7% revenue share versus 29.4%. 

The Microsoft Windows server segment represents the biggest slice of the server pie, accounting for 43% of all revenue, down 12.8% for Q3. IDC put the Linux segment at 14.8% of all revenue, down 12.6% from Q308 to $1.5 billion. At $2.8 billion, Unix servers account for 26.9% of revenues, down 23.4% for the last quarter. IBM grew its market share by 5.1% to hold 39.5% share, followed by HP (29.2%) and Sun (23.4%).

IBM was the story in Q3, says Harrington. The company showed some real strength, with a renewed investment in the x86 platform and a sales reorganization. And even though they reduced the number of channel partners, he says they must be doing something right because of their results.

He wasn't surprised by HP's performance, compared with IBM's. "They (HP) have such a large piece of the pie and they've been kicking butt for so long and you can only keep that up for so long."

Although not a factor yet, Harrington expects Cisco to make a splash in the first quarter of 2010. "They launched in the worst period they could possibly launch. Next year we believe they will start making some headway."



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