Recent reports by the leading market research companies show that worldwide server sales continue to rise, indicating that enterprises are beginning to loosen their purse strings for IT infrastructure purchases.
IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. still command a lions share of attention from the enterprise. But Dell Inc., which for several years has been evangelizing on the merits of clustering low-end, two- and four-ways servers as a less costly alternative to high-end systems, saw dramatic increases in server revenues and shipments during the first quarter.
In a report issued late last month, Gartner Inc. said server makers shipped more than 1.5 million boxes in the first three months of the year—a 27.1 percent increase over the same period last year. Demand for low-end systems costing less than $5,000 fueled much of the growth in shipments, according to the Stamford, Conn., research company. The Gartner report also indicated that revenues from server sales rose by 9.3 percent for the quarter.
A report released days later by IDC, of Framingham, Mass., showed similar results. Server revenue in the quarter grew 7.3 percent, to about $11.5 billion, with shipments jumping 22.4 percent, according to IDC. IDCs report indicated growth in most server markets, although sales of Unix systems declined 3 percent, to $4.1 billion. Sales of systems using x86 chips grew 14.1 percent, to $5.1 billion, and shipments of those systems jumped 23.5 percent, to more than 1.3 million servers.
"A lot of that was lessons learned during the downturn," said Jean Bozman, an analyst with IDC, in San Jose, Calif. "You do see more deployments of smaller servers, often in clusters, and you are seeing grids as well." In addition, 64-bit x86 systems—the market in which Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron processor plays—grew 35.1 percent in units shipped. Top-tier support for the Opteron and Intel Corp.s decision to offer 64-bit extensions in its 32-bit Xeon processors—starting this quarter with the release of "Nocona"—are key reasons for the growth, as is platform support for 64-bit Windows and Linux, according to IDC.
AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., got more support last week when it announced that I/O chip-set maker Broadcom Corp., of Irvine, Calif., will move away from its Intel-only product line and begin developing chip sets that support the Opteron. While the low end grew as the Unix market showed a drop in revenue, there was a bright spot at the high end: Mainframe sales, particularly from IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., showed a 12 percent jump in revenue, according to Gartner.