Sun Tops Unix Server Shipments, IBM Gets the Most Dough in Q4
Published: March 13, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Unix server market is one of the few places with what would now be called fat profits in the server racket, and therefore, the remaining players in the market fight tooth and nail for every deal and every dollar. The big three in the space--Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems--dominate the Unix market, which both Gartner and IDC said grew in the final quarter of 2007.
By Gartner's reckoning, the sale of RISC and Itanium servers running a variant of Unix rose by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $4.41 billion. Gartner measures end user sales of server gear (including reseller mark up), while IDC measures factory revenue at the vendor level (including direct sales by vendors but not including channel mark up). IDC had a radically different number for Unix sales, however, which you would assume to be smaller than Gartner's figures, but nonetheless, IDC pegged worldwide Unix server sales at $5.2 billion in Q4, up 1.5 percent. Clearly, something is amiss in these numbers, and we will have to leave it to Gartner, IDC, and the server makers to figure out what.
In the meantime, Gartner did provide a lot of granularity to the press about the Unix market as compared to IDC. IBM was, as has been the case in the past few years, the big driver of Unix server revenues, with sales up 10 percent in the quarter to $1.58 billion. Sun was the number two Unix server maker according to Gartner's rankings, with $1.28 billion in sales, but up only two-tenths of a percent compared to Q4 2006. HP did a little bit worse in the growth department, with sales down eight-tenths of a percent to $1.26 billion, basically tied with Sun. The number four Unix server maker is the Fujitsu-Siemens partnership, with sales of $161.7 million, down 10.3 percent. French server maker Bull had a big spike in sales, most likely due to the popularity of IBM's Power6-based machines, which Bull rebrands and sells in Europe, with sales skyrocketing up 45.4 percent to $67.6 million. All other vendors in the RISC-Itanium Unix server space accounted for a mere $55.8 million, up 61.7 percent. (Obviously, the mere smattering of Unix operating systems on X64 iron are not in this mix, but machinery from Apple, which by rights should be included among Unix gear by both IDC and Gartner, is in this Gartner data because Apple still does sell some RISC gear.)
In terms of shipments, the number of boxes that Unix vendors pumped out absolutely cratered in Q4. Sun was the shipment leader, with 56,339 machines, down 10.4 percent, and IBM, the number two shipper, saw the box count drop by 17.2 percent, down 28,287. HP was up nearly one percent, with shipments of 15,828, while Fujitsu-Siemens pushed out 3,383 Unix boxes in the quarter, down 10.1 percent. Apple's RISC-based Mac OS X servers accounted for 2,032 units, and all other vendors comprised 1,084 shipments. It is fair to guess that Bull was a bit part of those other shipments.
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The Market for Servers in Europe Is Hot
Virtualization, Consolidation Drive Server Sales in Q1
Server Sales Up a Bit in 2006, But Q4 Looks a Bit Weak
Server Sales Perk Up a Little Bit in the Third Quarter
The Server Market Struggles for Growth in Q2, Says IDC
Server Sales Decline for the Second Straight Quarter
The Server Market Begins to Cool in Q4
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