IDC: Server Sales Growth Highest In Three Years In Fourth Quarter Of 2010

Worldwide server sales revenue rose 15.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with the year ago quarter, the highest growth rate in three years and the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year growth, as customers continued a refresh cycle of their IT assets, according to a report released Monday from IDC. The IDC report mirrored an earlier analysis by Gartner. One notable growth market was high-end x86 architecture servers, according to an IDC analyst.

March 2, 2011

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Worldwide server sales revenue rose 15.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with the year ago quarter, the highest growth rate in three years and the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year growth, as customers continued a refresh cycle of their IT assets, according to a report released Monday from IDC. The IDC report mirrored an earlier analysis by Gartner. One notable growth market was high-end x86 architecture servers, according to an IDC analyst.

IDC recorded $15 billion in sales revenue in the quarter based on shipments of 2.1 million units, a 6.1 percent jump from the fourth quarter of 2009. For all of 2010, worldwide server revenue rose 11.4 percent to $48.1 billion, compared with 2009, on a 15.3 percent increase in shipments to 7.6 million units.

The top five ranked server vendors maintained their market share positions from the year ago quarter, IDC reports. IBM remained first with $5.6 billion in revenue, up 21.9 percent; HP second with $4.5 billion, up 13.2 percent; Dell third with $1.19 billion, up 26.8 percent; Sun fourth with $883 million, down 14.4 percent; and Fujitsu fifth with $541 million, down 9.4 percent. In the year ago quarter, Sun was a stand-alone company; it has since been acquired by Oracle.

HP puts a different spin on the numbers, pointing to its No. 1 position in the x86 server market, which accounted for 59.7 percent of overall server spending in the quarter. HP led with 38.5 percent market share, followed by Dell's 21.1 percent, IBM's 19 percent, Fujitsu's 3.5 percent and Sun's 2.8 percent. Overall revenue growth in the x86 market was 21.4 percent in the quarter, to $9 billion.

HP expects continued growth in industry server sales in 2011, though perhaps not at the rate sales grew last year. In 2010, companies increased IT spending suppressed in 2009 by the recession, says Jim Ganthier, VP of marketing for the Industry Standard Servers business at HP. "It's almost like people coming out of the desert who definitely want water, and they want it quickly. So I think we're we're still in a growth mode, but the slope of the line won't be as fast," says Ganthier.IDC analyst Reuben Miller says much of the growth in the x86 market was in high-end servers rather than low-end hardware. Increasingly, buyers were looking for high-performance systems to place in limited data center space and finding that solution in multisocket servers with multicore processors.

The IDC results are similar to those reported last week by Gartner; both are closely watched measures of server sales. Gartner reported fourth quarter revenue of $14.7 billion, a 16.4 percent increase from the year ago quarter, and the same rank order of the top five vendors: IBM, HP, Dell, Oracle/Sun and Fujitsu.

However, the Gartner leader board differed when counting shipments. HP was first with 32.2 percent share, followed by Dell's 21.6 percent, IBM's 14 percent, Fujitsu's 3.2 percent and Oracle's/Sun's 1.5 percent.

For the industry as a whole, Gartner reports server shipments totaled 2.4 million units, up 6.5 percent from the year-ago quarter. Gartner also attributes 2010 server sales growth to pent-up demand after the recession and to the introduction of new advanced processors from Intel and AMD that prompted customers to buy.

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