Integrated Platform Sales Still On The Rise
October 20, 2014 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Integrated has been the word that has applied to the AS/400 even before IBM rebranded it as the iSeries back in the late 1990s and then the System i before the Power Systems convergence back in 2008. The ideas embodied in the AS/400 are being employed in a new generation of systems, including Big Blue’s own PureSystems machines.
The latter is based on the Flex System machinery that is now controlled by Lenovo Group. And the markets for integrated infrastructure, the base iron that includes servers, storage, and storage all in one box, and integrated platforms, which include systems software tuned up for it, is growing like gangbusters for the exact same reasons that the AS/400 was popular more than 25 years ago. Many companies want to buy a pre-fabbed system and not have to put the parts together for themselves. They just want to run or build applications, not be a system integrator.
It takes a while for the box counters at IDC to tease out the market for integrated infrastructure systems and integrated platforms. The latest figures are for the second quarter ended in June, and for that period these two integrated systems markets combined for $2.4 billion in revenues and a 33.8 growth rate in year-on-year revenue. The systems consumed more than 833 petabytes of new storage, which was a 63.4 percent increase from Q2 2013. For the first half of the year, sales rose by 35.9 percent to $4.3 billion.
“It’s notable that sales of integrated systems have driven considerable and continued growth at a time when many portions of the enterprise infrastructure market have experienced lackluster results,” explained Eric Sheppard, research director for storage at IDC, in a statement accompanying the figures. “Integrated systems have clearly become a critical go-to market approach and an important source of growth for infrastructure suppliers looking to capitalize on a market need to reduce datacenter infrastructure inefficiencies.”
The integrated platform market, which is more closely aligned to the IBM i platform as far as we are concerned, had 11.1 percent growth in the second quarter, to $1.05 billion. Oracle, with its Exadata, Exalytics, and Exalogic appliances, which are sold with systems software on them, are the clear market leader, with $577 million in sales, up 18.3 percent. IBM is number two, but far behind with only $116.6 million in sales and only showing 1 percent growth, no doubt due to the confusion surrounding the sale of the System x division to Lenovo, which now makes everything but the Power-based server nodes in the Flex System hardware that is the basis for PureSystems machines. Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi are tied for a paltry $17.9 million and $17.3 million in sales, respectively, with HP nearly doubling and Hitachi flat. Other vendors accounted for $320.1 million in sales, down 3.6 percent. Clearly, this part of the market has trouble growing.
The integrated infrastructure segment, however, which is just converged hardware, is growing fast and is utterly dominated by iron manufactured by networking giant and system upstart Cisco Systems. This part of the market exhibited 59.2 percent growth, to $1.35 billion, in the second quarter, with the VCE partnership between Cisco, EMC, and VMware coming out on top with $328.6 million in revenues and growing a little slower than the market at large. The Cisco-NetApp partnership that sells Cisco servers and switches as part of the FlexPod offering, came in second with $303.4 million in revenues, up 38.3 percent. EMC sells Unified Computing Systems machines from Cisco as part of its VPLEX integrated systems, and save 37.3 percent growth to $239.1 million in revenues for Q2. All other vendors together, including IBM and now Lenovo, brought in $478.8 million, nearly double what it was a year ago. That might be the interesting bit to tease out of the data.