Cisco Systems and Fujitsu were among the few bright spots in a worldwide server market that saw shipments increase slightly in the first quarter while revenues fell, according to market research firms IDC and Gartner.
Analysts from both firms pointed to anticipated upgrades in x86 systemsbased on Intels new Xeon E5 processors, launched in Marchas a key contributing factor in the quarterly numbers, with businesses holding off on purchases until the new servers became available. In addition, the strong server numbers from 2011 made the numbers in the first quarter this year look especially weak in comparison, they said.
"The server market worked through a transitional period in the first quarter of 2012 as suppliers prepared to introduce numerous critically important x86 server offerings, Matt Eastwood, group vice president and general manager of enterprise platforms at IDC, said in a statement. At the same time, difficult year-over-year compares helped distort some results across other segments of the market."
For the quarter, IDC said in a May 30 report that global server revenues fell 2.4 percent, to $11.8 billionmarking the second consecutive quarter of revenue declinewhile shipments rose 2.7 percent, to 2 million units. Gartners numbers were similar, with revenues falling 1.8 percent, to $12.4 billion, and shipments growing 1.5 percent, to 2.3 billion units.
In shipments, the top three vendorsHewlett-Packard, Dell and IBMall saw declines in comparison with the first quarter in 2011, according to IDC. However, both Fujitsuat No. 4and fifth-place Cisco saw shipments increase, with Ciscos shipments jumping 70.9 percent, from 23,690 units to 40,498, according to Gartner. Cisco joined the server crowd in 2009, when it launched the Unified Computing System (UCS), a converged data center solution that includes not only Cisco networking technology, but also Cisco-branded servers.
Cisco executives in March unveiled UCS 3.0including new servers powered by Intels Xeon E5-2600 chipsand said that the company had more than 11,000 UCS customers and a revenue run rate of $1.3 billion.
Regarding revenues, IDC and Gartner said the top four vendorsHP, IBM, Dell and Oraclesaw declines in the quarter. Only Fujitsu, at No. 5, had revenue growth, jumping 7.3 percent. Gartner had Fujitsus revenue growth at 4.5 percent. Gartner analysts said HP saw revenue declines in both its x86-based ProLiant and Itanium-based Integrity lines.
According to Kuba Stolarski, research manager for enterprise servers at IDC, the ongoing debate between HP and Oracle over the fate of ItaniumIntels high-end non-x86 platform that powers HPs high-end Integrity and NonStop systemsplayed a role.
"The Unix server refresh has largely ended as the Unix server market is in decline again, driven by workload consolidation and migration to competing platforms," Stolarski said in a statement. "Recent heightened awareness of the future of Itanium is also pressing down on customer demand for non-x86 servers, and price competition is helping to drive down revenues in this segment. IDC expects the Unix server market to stabilize over the next few years and remain a smaller, specialized segment of the overall server market."
Despite the market anticipation of Intels Xeon E5-2600 processors, Gartner and IDC both said the x86 server segment saw some growth in both revenues and shipments.