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Cisco, Lenovo score big in 2014 server sales

Posted: 05 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:server  UCS  x86  Unified Computing System 

The global server market in 2014 saw IBM and HP as biggest losers, while Cisco and Lenovo both gained share, according to the fourth-quarter and full-year report on server, shipments, revenues and market share shifts by Gartner.

The shifts at two of these firms were fuelled by IBM's late September sale of its x86 server business to Lenovo for $2.3 billion. That deal helped fuel Lenovo's 112.3 per cent increase in unit shipments, though the company still doesn't rank among the top-five vendors overall (with $1.5 billion in revenue), since it doesn't participate in the lucrative, high-end RISC/Itanium server market.

Even without the sale of its x86 business, IBM's server revenue sank 14 per cent from fourth quarter 2013 results, capping an off year for IBM's mainframe and Power server lines. IBM's server revenues across all categories were off 27.1 per cent, while unit shipments declined 37.8 per cent from 2013 full-year results. IBM's next-generation z13 server, released in January, is expected to revive mainframe revenues.

HP remains the server market leader, but it suffered a 9.4 per cent decline in unit shipments for the year. Revenues held steady at $13.3 billion, up 0.4 per cent. HP's biggest declines were in the RISC/Itanium market, with unit shipments off 18.8 per cent and revenues down 21.8 per cent.

Oracle posted the only positive number in the RISC (Unix and Linux) segment, with a 4.7 per cent increase in unit shipments, but it, too, saw revenues decline, albeit with a 2.3-point gain in market share.

The biggest growth story of the year (not counting Lenovo's big acquisition) was Cisco's 29.8 per cent increase in server revenue, to $2.9 billion. Driving that growth is Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) line, which integrates servers, storage, networking and even virtualisation software in preconfigured systems that are ready to run and to consolidate data centre workloads.

Server sales

Cisco's success with UCS hasn't gone unnoticed, with Oracle recently introducing the Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance as a head-to-head UCS competitor. The appliance, which joins Oracle's line of Engineered Systems combining hardware and software, is one more example of an integrated system.

"The growth of integrated systems, while still relatively small as an overall percentage of the hardware infrastructure market, provided some growth contribution to the x86 server space for the year," wrote Jeffrey Hewitt, a research VP, in the Gartner report. Hewitt described 2014 as a "moderate growth year" with overall increases of 2.2 per cent in shipments and 0.8 per cent in revenue.

"x86 servers continue to be the predominant platform used for large-scale data centre buildouts across the globe," Hewitt wrote.

- Doug Henschen
  Information Week

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