IDC: Blades Blast Off

Blade servers are hot, and nearly half of them have Fibre Channel connectivity, says IDC

May 28, 2005

2 Min Read
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Blade servers are selling like hotcakes, according to a report from IDC, and storage networking is a key factor.

During the first quarter of 2005, blade server shipments grew 68.2 percent, and overall factory revenue rose 106 percent year-over-year, according to IDC's "Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker," published this week. While still just 3.4 percent of the world's $12.1 billion total quarterly server revenue, blade servers are well ahead of the market's 5.3 percent growth rate.

Storage networking is a key aspect of blade servers' success, according to Matt Eastwood, program VP of worldwide server research at IDC. "Blades are being positioned for infrastructure and application tier consolidation, so storage is a big part of that," he says. "Forty to 50 percent of blade servers shipping today are attached to Fibre Channel switches."

Despite being a high-growth, emerging market, the blade server space is oddly consolidated, Eastwood notes. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) together own over 60 percent of overall revenue. Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Fujitsu Siemens Computers, and NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701) account for about another 16 percent, and other suppliers for the rest.

Figure 1:

At the moment, IBM is clearly the most aggressive player when it comes to adding storage capabilities to its eServer BladeCenter. The vendor now offers three SAN switch modules OEM'd from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC).

HP offers a 4-Gbit/s Brocade switch module for its BladeSystem (see Brocade & HP: Blade Brothers), and plans are underway for a McData blade to be shipped in June.

Others are adding switch blades of their own. Dell plans a McData switch module for its PowerEdge blade server, and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) this week announced plans to provide one from Brocade (see Brocade Intros SAN Switch Module).

So far, no one has announced a blade server module based on the MDS 9000 switch from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). While both HP and IBM offer a blade server module based on Cisco's Ethernet switches (see Cisco Goes On-Demand With IBM ), no one yet has Cisco's SAN switch.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch0

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