"IBM topped the survey again this year, winning most categories, but their lead was a bit narrower than last year," said Dan Olds, a principal analyst and CEO of the Gabriel Consulting Group. "The real surprise is that Sun surpassed HP to finish a strong second. Last year, Sun was well behind both HP and IBM overall and in most categories. This year, they definitely win our Most Improved Unix Vendor award."
Olds surveyed 277 enterprise IT managers on their Unix preferences. He said the goal was to assess how customers are feeling about their vendors and gauge their level of loyalty. He noted that while the Unix server market may not get as much ink in the press as Microsoft Windows systems and Linux, it's the largest computing segment in terms of revenue.
The big finding this year, he noted, is Sun's resurgence in a market the company struggled in the year before.
"I was surprised the year before at Sun being third in a market they had owned for so long," said Olds. "This year they came back to a strong second. In some categories, they're challenging IBM for No. 1, and in some categories they are No. 1."