Windows, Linux Big Server Sellers In Q3
Published: December 12, 2011
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, The Four Hundred reported on the quarterly server sales and shipments presented by Gartner, and this week we get a second opinion on the market from IDC, which looks at the system racket a little bit differently from its box counting peer.
Gartner measures server sales each quarter as they are peddled to users from either the vendors directly or their reseller channels, while IDC looks only at the factory revenue at the manufacturer level. And each presents, to the public at least, a slightly different set of dicing and slicing of products by operating system, processor type, price band, and so on, which means that you can get a better sense of what is going on out there in System Land if you analyze both sets of information.
To that end, IDC believes that server makers pushed 2.07 million shiny new boxes out the door in the third quarter ended in September, an increase of 4 percent over the spectacular shipments in the year-ago period. Those servers generated a total of $12.74 billion worldwide for server makers (when local currencies are converted to US dollars), up 4.2 percent. Tepid sales of servers in Western Europe helped pull down shipments and revenues both, which is no surprise given the dire state of several European economies. Sales in Central and Eastern Europe grew like crazy, but it was not enough to make up for slack sales in France and the United Kingdom, flat sales in Germany, and declining sales in other Western European countries. (Presumably Italy, Spain, Greece, and Ireland did not do very well at all; IDC did not bring it up.)
If you look at server sales in terms of the primary operating system installed, Windows dominated with $6.3 billion in revenues and nearly half of all sales worldwide. But unit shipments for Windows boxes only rose by 2 percent compared to 5.3 percent revenue growth, which suggests that some customers are buying very fat boxes and SMBs are pulling back a bit. Linux-based machines accounted for $2.3 billion in revenues in Q3, spanning mainframes, RISC, and X86 platforms and growing 12.3 percent. It is hard to believe that Linux will ever catch up to Windows at this point, but it was also hard to believe Windows would catch up to Unix 15 years ago, too. Speaking of Unix, this operating system pushed $2.6 billion in revenues in Q3, up 1.6 percent from a year ago and a respectable showing mostly thanks to IBM. Big Blue gained five points of market share in the quarter and is aggressively pushing Unix boxes, particularly in the midrange and high end and particularly in growth markets.
If you do the math, the other operating system platforms shrunk by 6.2 percent in the quarter, to $1.54 billion. IBM's System z mainframe sales were a big part of that Others category, with $970 million in revenues and a 4.5 percent decline. That means the Other Others, into which the Power Systems-IBM i combo falls, accounted for $570 million in the quarter, down 8.8 percent. IDC does not talk about IBM i system sales publicly, so we don't know how well or poorly IBM i-based machines did in the quarter. The word on the street from the handful of resellers I talked to last week was that things are getting a little better.
IBM took the server crown back in Q3 from Hewlett-Packard, and largely because of its own success peddling against HP-UX boxes and Oracle's Itanium gambit maneuver, where it has withdrawn support for future Oracle software on current and future Itanium machines. This has had an obvious chilling effect on HP-UX server sales. But the confusion over who was CEO at HP during the quarter and HP's spastic moves with its PC biz kept its ProLiant X86 server business from growing and that held back the market overall as well as HP in particular. In the end, HP and IBM essentially tied at $3.79 billion in sales, with IBM eking out a slight edge of $3 million, which is probably not outside the margin of error of IDC's estimates. The point is that IBM was growing at 3.5 percent in the quarter, and HP was declining by 3.8 percent.
Dell ranked third, with $1.93 billion in sales and a very impressive 13.1 percent uptick in the quarter--more than triple the market overall. Oracle shrank by 3.2 percent to $764 million in the quarter, followed up by Fujitsu with its $605 million, up only four-tenths of a percent. Other vendors, including Cisco Systems and Lenovo, helped the Others category by vendor grow by 22 percent--more than five times faster than the market at large--to $1.86 billion.
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