IBM, HP, Dell Seeing x86 Server Sales Climb, Analysts Say

Businesses are continuing to buy x86 servers, and top systems vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell are the key beneficiaries, according to Gartner and IDC.

Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell and other systems makers are benefiting from the resurgence in the x86 server market, according to market research by Gartner and IDC.

In their second-quarter reports on the server market, analysts from both Gartner and IDC said the x86 space continues to see significant growth as enterprises refresh server fleets that they had held onto longer than normal due to budget crunches during the global recession.

The result was that most server OEMs saw their overall revenue numbers continue to climb in the second quarter.

"IDC continues to see widespread infrastructure [refreshes] occurring across all geographies," analyst Matt Eastwood said in a statement Aug. 24. "While much of this refresh is occurring first in x86-based servers, IDC expects the recovery to extend to Unix and mainframe platforms in the second half of 2010. That said, it is clear that a wave of migration is also occurring as customers broaden their deployment of x86-based servers to a wider range of workloads."

Overall, IDC said server revenue during the quarter grew 11 percent from the same period last year, to $10.9 billion. It was the fastest quarterly growth since 2003, IDC said. Gartner said revenues grew 14.3 percent, to more than $11 billion, and shipments jumped 27.1 percent.

Revenue in the x86 server market rose 37 percent, and shipments 28.9 percent, according to Gartner. IDC had x86 revenues jumping 35.3 percent.

Gartner analysts said there continues to be a marked difference in the x86 and non-x86-think RISC, Itanium and mainframes-markets. While x86 server numbers climbed, those in the other spaces stagnated or fell.

IDC saw the same trends. Unix server revenues fell 7.3 percent, the analysts said, with many customers holding back while they got more information on IBM's Power7 systems and Oracle's plans for the SPARC servers it gained through the $7.3 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems earlier in 2010. HP also announced its newest Integrity systems-powered by Intel's latest Itanium processor-in the last part of the quarter, IDC noted.

IDC analysts said they expect demand for non-x86 servers to improve in the second half of the year now that many of these vendors have refreshed their offerings. That in turn will help drive demand in the midrange and high end of the market.

"The uptick in the midrange server market shows there was pent-up demand for more scalable servers, through replacement for aging servers and workload consolidation," IDC analyst Jean Bozman said in a statement.

HP continued to be the top server vendor in terms of revenue and shipments, according to Gartner, which said HP had 32 percent of the market in revenue, followed by IBM with 27.7 percent and Dell at 16.3 percent. Oracle and Fujitsu rounded out the top five.

In shipments, HP had 30 percent of the market, Dell 25.3 percent and IBM 12.5 percent.

According to IDC's numbers, in terms of revenue, HP had 32.5 percent of the market, followed by IBM at 29.8 percent and Dell at 15.3 percent.

Not all analyst companies see such an optimistic picture. TheInfoPro, in its latest server survey Aug. 2, found that businesses it surveyed were continuing to tighten their IT budgets, and Bob Gill, manager director of server research, said he expected 2010 to be "a tough year." For many of these companies, the goal is to reduce the number of servers they have, not buy new ones, Gill said.

"A large percentage of people surveyed said they'll spend less in 2010 than they did in 2007," Gill told eWEEK. "The bottom line is, if they don't have money, they don't have money."