10 Server Hardware Highlights of 2010 Page 2

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Dec 21, 2010


6. EMC Goes x86

HP abandoned RISC processors five or so years ago. Now it is EMC's turn. The company has gone x86 -- all EMC disk arrays come with Intel processors. While Symmetrix DMX and previous-generation Symmetrix systems were based on PowerPC chips, the latest generation of EMC products, such as the Symmetrix V-Max, harnesses Xeon processors.

"We are getting phenomenal performance out of x86," said EMC chairman Joe Tucci. "The V-Max is by far the fastest Symmetrix platform we have ever made."

7. Cisco the Server Vendor

If rumors are correct, some of the Chinese thunder is going to rain on Cisco's networking parade real soon. Apparently, a Chinese startup is quietly gobbling up network market share. So it is perhaps just as well that Cisco diversified again in late 2009 with the release of its first server blades. The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) has made a modest entrance into the blade marketplace, but is gaining kudos from users.

"Cisco put forward a compelling convergence and virtualization message via UCS," said Jules Thomas, IT manager of trucking company Pitt Ohio Express. "This facilitated the move to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) and reduced our backup times considerably."

8. HP Leads in Revenues and Units

HP continues to lead over IBM in both revenue and units shipped. After being neck and neck for a while, it has had three consecutive quarters of dominance. The company scored 33.4 percent revenue share for 3Q10 according to IDC, up 22.2 percent year over year. Much of that growth came from HP ProLiant servers, which are x86-based, and HP owns 40 percent of that sector.

"Within the x86 server market, customer demands have increased for x86 servers with advanced performance capabilities," said Reuben Miller, an analyst at IDC. "Though the x86 market is experiencing annual positive growth for both unit sales and revenue, this shift in demand for more robust systems is providing vendors with higher growth rates in revenues over units sales, and in turn, higher profitability."

9. x86 Alternative

While multi-core systems from AMD and Intel continue to gain ground, IBM is in no mood to throw in the towel with its Power line of processors. 2010 saw the release of the latest Power model along with a refresh of its Power systems with the new chip.

POWER7 technology supports four times as many processor cores as prior systems, and it uses the latest PowerVM virtualization software to enable users to run more than 1,000 virtual servers on a single physical system.

According to Jeff Howard, director of marketing at IBM Power Systems, this is tempting customers onto the platform. He said IBM Power Systems achieved more than 250 competitive migrations in 2Q10, including 150 from Oracle/Sun and 86 from HP, resulting in approximately $225 million in revenue. In the first three quarters of this year, IBM had more than 750 competitive migrations, more than it did in all of 2009.

10. IBM Dominates Unix

IBM continues to rule the roost when it comes to the $14 billion UNIX market, according to IDC. For 2Q10, IBM achieved 42.8 percent share, which is an increase of 2 percent. Further, IDC reports that IBM is the only major UNIX vendor to gain share in the past five years. During that period, it has gained 13 percent while HP and Sun each lost 3 percent.

Clearly, IBM's strategy in this area is working far better than those of its competitors.

"IBM is committed to the AIX, i and Linux platforms on Power," said Jeff Howard, director of marketing at IBM Power Systems. "This year, IBM introduced new versions of the i operating system, i 7.1, and a new version of AIX, IBM's UNIX operating system."

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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