HP Snatches UNIX Server Lead From Sun

By Michael Singer

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There is a new leader in the UNIX server revenue, and it isn't perennial favorite Sun Microsystems.

According to the latest numbers from server research firm IDC, Hewlett-Packard now leads the pack when it comes to the overall UNIX server market with a 32.9 percent market share, while Sun fell to the number 2 position this quarter with 30.4 percent. HP also managed to take the lead in revenue of Intel-based, servers, holding 35 percent customer revenue market share worldwide followed by Dell with 21.9 percent.

Framingham, Mass.-based IDC says this is a reflection of two factors: seasonality caused by Sun's first fiscal- quarter and Hewlett-Packard's stable UNIX/Intel server business, which includes its Superdome servers and AlphaServer supercomputers. But IDC said the UNIX market would continue to be up for grabs over the next few quarters.

Overall, IBM regained sole lead of the server market with a 29.8 percent share, after tying with Hewlett-Packard for market share leadership following HP's May 2002 merger with Compaq. Meantime, Dell Computer was the only vendor in the top 5 to post year-over-year revenue growth with a 7.5 percent gain.

"IBM also had a very good quarter in IA 32 revenue. HP had more dollars, but IBM had more growth. That says something, considering the larger number a company has in market share, the harder it is to grow," IDC Research Vice President Jean Bozman said.

Bozman said HP's success in IA 32 is attributed to its ProLiant server line.

Both Linux servers and Windows servers are slowly gaining market share with Linux servers gaining 26.7 percent and Windows servers gaining 3.2 percent respectively. IDC said both Linux servers and Windows servers also showed sequential growth, compared with the 10 percent year- over-year decline of UNIX servers.

"This gain was fueled by the technical clustered server market as these systems gain more acceptance and momentum among buyers," said John Humphreys, a senior research analyst for the Internet Infrastructure Hardware program.

Even international vendors are making headway into the battle for market share. IDC says if Fujitsu and Fujitsu Siemens were combined as a single entity, their market share is only behind Dell by 2 points.

"We are definitely seeing stabilization in the server space as the year- over-year percentage decline rate has been decreasing for seven consecutive quarters," said Bozman. "Even though the worldwide server market has thus far been unable to break out of a decline that's lasted nearly two years, signs of life are returning to the market and the fourth quarter should continue this improvement."