Six Server Segments: Guidelines for Categorizing Servers

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By Richard Krause and Bradley L. Hecht


In the world of Wintel-based servers, the types offered are as varied as the applications for which they are used. Although applying broad terms is risky, this tutorial breaks the server market into six segments and provides guidelines for the features and characteristics of each.

In the world of Wintel-based servers (aka PC servers), the types of machines offered are as varied as the applications for which they are used. Although applying broad terms is risky, we have broken the server market into six segments. Here, we provide a guide to the features and characteristics of each. (There are other ways the market can be segmented — we have chosen this for its "accessibility" to the general user.)

In general, servers can be segmented by the size of the user population they serve — from small "mom and pop" shops up to large companies with thousands of employees. However, there are exceptions, which will also be explored herein.


The size-related segments we have defined, in order of smallest population served to largest, are:

  1. Workgroup
  2. Department
  3. Midrange
  4. Enterprise
  5. Superenterprise

All of the above segments are for general-purpose servers — those that try to have a broad mix of features and functions to appeal to the widest range of customers. The sixth segment, is relatively new and is only a few years old. Rather than being defined by the number of users, such servers are categorized in terms of what they do, not whom they serve. This segment is variously referred to as "single-function servers," "server appliances," "information appliances," "thin servers," and "task servers" — each designation having slightly different connotations. For simplicity, we will lump the subgenres together and refer to the general product group as "appliance servers." This segment (for both Wintel and Unix/Linux-based systems) is expected to reach $8 billion by 2003, according to IDC.

Richard Krause is Research Director, Hardware Platforms at TechnologyEvaluation.COM. In this role, Mr. Krause manages all of the research and data modeling for computing, storage, and peripheral hardware.

Bradley L. Hecht is executive vice president of TechnologyEvaluation.COM. In that role, Mr. Hecht manages TechnologyEvaluation.COM's global research process and methodology as well as its E-Commerce and Technical Infrastructure practices.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of TechnologyEvaluation.COM and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ServerWatch or internet.com.

This article was originally published on Jan 5, 2000
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