The worldwide server market is in a state of revenue decline, according to a pair of reports out this week from analyst firms IDC and Gartner. While vendors are making less money, they are shipping more servers, though the actual numbers vary depending on which analyst firm you ask.
Gartner reported that for the first quarter of 2012, global server revenues declined by 1.8 percent on a year-over-year basis to $12.4 billion. IDC reported a steeper decline of 2.4 percent, with revenues at $11.8 billion.
In terms of actual server shipments, Gartner reported that worldwide server shipments grew 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, while IDC reported 2.7 percent growth in server shipments.
The decline in the overall server market is not uniform across all server segments. The x86 server market is a bright spot. Gartner reported that x86 server revenues grew by 5.6 percent on unit growth of 1.7 percent. IDC reported x86 server revenue growth of 4.5 percent on unit growth of 3.2 percent.
The big declines came from RISC/Itanium Unix servers during the quarter. Gartner reported that there was a 15.2 percent decline in revenue and a 5.7 percent decline in shipments. IDC reported RISC/Itanium server revenues declined by 16.1 percent. According to IDC, non-x86 servers have now fallen to the lowest level ever tracked by IDC, coming in at only 28.5 percent of the global server market.
"The Unix server refresh has largely ended, as the Unix server market is in decline again, driven by workload consolidation and migration to competing platforms," said Kuba Stolarski, research manager, Enterprise Servers at IDC in a statement. "Recent heightened awareness of the future of Itanium is also pressing down on customer demand for non-x86 servers, and price competition is helping to drive down revenues in this segment."
The question of which vendor leads the server market is one that varies based on the analyst report. According to Gartner, IBM holds the lead in terms of server revenues, coming in at $3.5 billion for a 28.1 percent share. Gartner has HP in second place by revenue, holding a 27.8 percent share.
IDC, however, flips Gartner's rankings and has HP in the top spot with a 29.3 percent share and IBM in second with a 27.3 percent market share by revenue. Both IBM and HP had year-over-year revenue declines, though, with HP losing nearly 10 percent and IBM shedding 7 percent.
In terms of server shipments, Gartner has HP in the top slot, followed by Dell in second and IBM in third. All three of the top shipping server vendors shipped fewer servers in the first quarter on a year-over-year basis. In Gartner's top five list of server shipments from vendors, Fujitsu shipped 12.7 percent more servers and Cisco exploded with a 70.9 percent server shipment growth year-over-year.
When it comes to form factors, blades are taking the lead in terms of growth. According to Gartner, blade server revenues grew by 5.6 percent while shipments fell by 1.3 percent. IDC sees the market a bit differently, with blade server revenue growth of 7.3 percent on shipment growth of 4.8 percent.
Blades now represent 21.3 percent of all x86 server revenues according to IDC.