Ask TPM–Who, or Where, in the World Buys All Those Servers?
October 27, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
I had a quick question. Your articles cover worldwide server sales by vendors in great detail and I have enjoyed reading them. One piece of information I have not been able to find is what portion of the worldwide server market is from the United States. If there are between 30 and 35 million installed servers worldwide, where are they?
I have looked all over for this information but have had no luck. Any help from you will be appreciated.
But, as part of an effort to show how much energy servers consume worldwide, Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor at Stanford University, created a model of server installed base and electricity usage for these servers based on data from IDC. This information was made public in the study, which we covered in the story called Which Geographies Use the Most Juice for Servers?
Koomey’s original study just looked at the installed server base in the U.S. and the rest of the world, but a subsequent study gave a little more fine-grained geographical data. IDC reckoned that in 2000, the United States had 5.6 million servers installed, 39.7 percent of the worldwide base of 14.1 million machines installed. In 2005, IDC estimated that the server base had grown by 83.9 percent in the six years inclusive, to 10.3 million units, while the worldwide base grew slightly faster at 93.6 percent over 2000’s levels to hit 27.3 million units. That gives the United States a 37.7 percent share of the worldwide server base.
In a subsequent study released a few months later, Koomey did a little more dicing and slicing of the IDC data for the globe. At the end of 2005, Western Europe had 7.4 million servers (up 93.9 percent over the base in 2000), and Japan had 2.6 million servers (up 92.5 percent). The Asia/Pacific region had 3.7 million servers in 2005, up 138 percent compared to 2000, and the remaining parts of the globe, which includes Russia, Brazil, and a number of vibrant economies, accounted for 3.4 million servers in its installed base in 2005 (up 92.5 percent from the base in 2000 six years earlier). As you can see, the installed base growth is very high in the Asia/Pacific region.
This is the most current data I have seen for installed base estimates. And 2005 is also the most current information I can lay my hands on for shipments and sales, too. Specifically, Gartner’s quarterly server numbers for the second quarter of 2005; after that, Gartner’s Dataquest unit stopped giving the press access to geographical data for server shipments.
In the second quarter of 2005, 1.78 million servers shipped, with 41.7 percent of the boxes in the United States, 23.6 percent in Western Europe, 15.4 percent in Asia/Pacific, 7 percent in Japan, 3.8 percent in Eastern Europe, 2.9 percent in Latin America, 2.8 percent in Canada, and 2.7 percent in the Middle East and Africa. What’s interesting in this data is how the revenue distribution doesn’t exactly follow. The U.S. accounted for 39.8 percent of the $12.1 billion in server sales in Q2 2005, less of a share than for shipments, and Western Europe accounted for 26.8 percent of server revenues in the quarter. Europe likes its midrange boxes with slightly higher price tags, I guess. Asia/Pacific, too, which had 11.9 percent of revenues for the quarter, followed by 10.3 percent for Japan and 3.85 percent for Latin America. The remaining regions had a smaller revenue share than for shipment share, just like the United States. I guess we know who likes all that cheap X64 iron, eh?
Extrapolating out to 2008 probably means shrinking the U.S. and Japan a bit and boosting Brazil, Russia, India, and China a bit. Or, Latin America and Asia/Pacific, the way IDC and Gartner talk about it. I haven’t seen a solid estimate for the current worldwide server installed base, but 30 million to 35 million might be reasonable if the 20 million or so boxes that have been acquired since the end of 2005 were knocking a lot of vintage boxes into the garbage. That’s a fair bet, but not the same thing as a real IDC or Gartner estimate. Servers tend to linger, but no one is keeping very good track of the ones they are using, either.