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Custom Systems Rule Server Market

Custom-system builders are the king of both the PC server and Unix server markets in the channel, according to the latest CRN Monthly Solution Provider Survey.

Solution providers say unbranded systems remain their best-selling servers. Much of that growth came at the expense of Hewlett-Packard, which lost 7 percent and 10 percent of its share in the PC server and Unix server spaces, respectively, between April 2003 and April 2004, according to the survey, based on interviews with more than 300 solution providers.

White-box PC and Unix servers were the channel's best-selling brands in April, the second month in a row that custom systems finished at the top in those categories. In fact, custom-built Unix servers were reported as the best-selling line by 30 percent of VARs surveyed. That compared with 21 percent for IBM, 10 percent for Hewlett-Packard and 14 percent for Sun Microsystems.

The results, perhaps, are a testament to Advanced Micro Devices' and Intel's efforts to push their 64-bit processors into the white-box arena. But some system builders believe that as IT spending rebounds after a three-plus-year hiatus, customers see the channel providing a broader, more reliable lineup of products and services than before.

"We've been promoting the idea of white-box servers for the last five years," said Ted Roller, president of Oxford Systems Integration, a Troy, Ohio-based system builder and solution provider.

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