Cisco's UCS Drives the Vendor Onto Top 5 Server Lists
Overall, both IDC and Gartner analysts found that server revenue worldwide increased in the fourth quarter, while shipments fell. IDC found that server revenue in the quarter grew 3.1 percent from the same period in 2011, to $14.6 billion—the first quarterly increase in revenue in five quarters—while shipments fell 3.9 percent, to 2.1 million units. For all of 2012, revenue fell 1.9 percent from 2011 while shipments decreased 1.5 percent. Gartner analysts said that revenue in the quarter jumped 5.1 percent while shipments fell 0.2 percent, but for 2012, revenue fell 0.6 percent and shipments jumped 1.5 percent. "2012 was a year that definitely saw budgetary constraint which resulted in delays in x86-based server replacements in enterprise and midsized data centers," Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Application-as-a-business data centers such as Baidu, Facebook and Google were the real drivers of significant volume growth for the year." Both Gartner and IDC had IBM, HP and Dell as one, two and three, respectively, in server revenue for the quarter. Gartner analysts said they expect modest growth in overall server sales for 2013.Gartner's Hewitt said it was other server platforms that held back the overall market. "Relatively weak mainframe and RISC/Itanium Unix platform market performance kept overall revenue growth in check," he said. However, Jean Bozman, research vice president for IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group, said IBM's System z mainframe business saw the highest quarterly revenue since 1997, with revenue increasing 55.6 percent after five consecutive quarters of falling sales. The $1.8 billion in mainframe revenue in the fourth quarter was 12.3 percent of all server revenue, according to IDC. "This dramatic growth was due to several factors: technology refresh, new products such as zEnterprise, new accounts in emerging economies, and consolidation of some enterprise Linux workloads onto IBM System z, using the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) specialty engines," Bozman said in a statement. "Although revenue results for System z are traditionally heavier in the fourth quarter, this accelerated acquisition shows the breadth and depth of the IBM mainframe installed base."
The x86 server market, thanks in large part to new and enhanced offerings based on the Xeon Sandy Bridge chips Intel introduced in early 2012, saw revenue climb 6 percent in the quarter, the sharpest quarterly increase ever, according to IDC analysts. The x86 servers accounted for 66.2 percent of all the server revenue generated globally, they said. Both HP and Dell saw their x86 server revenue increase during the quarter, while Cisco saw a 50.7 percent increase in its server revenue, they said.