Server vendors need to be more open about plans with users and support more third party software, according to industry analysts Gartner Group.
In a presentation at Dataquest Predicts 99 conference in Paris today, senior Gartner Group analyst Jane Doorly said that as the industry moves away from the old box shifting model, a large majority of server companies are going to have to change their approach in order to grow.
"Server vendors need to articulate their future strategy to users and this is fundamental to their long term survival. There has been far too much holding back on telling users future plans they need to know," she said. "Absence of comment on Merced was quite inhibiting for non Risc players and allowed Risc players to plant doubt in users' minds," she added.
She said server vendors also need to support more third party software and move away from the traditional box shifting model.
"Vendors need to become total solutions companies and realise that hardware is not an end in itself, they will need to partner with other companies to fill in the gaps they can't provide," she said.
Doorly said that the two leaders in the server market, IBM and Compaq, were strongly challenged by, and lost valuable market share last year to, Hewlett-Packard and Sun.
She said that the merger of Compaq, Digital and Tandem, was not performing well and was suffering from Dell's success in the low end of the market.
"In fact, it's possible that Compaq has taken its eye of the ball in this area," said Doorly.
She added that weaknesses in IBM's RS/6000 line has led to losses in market share and that the only segment the company did well in last year was AS/400.
"Previous forecasts of AS/400's death have been greatly exaggerated," she noted.
Overall, Doorly said the combined Unix and NT server market grew by 21.9 per cent to reach $9.31 billion in revenues in 1998.
She predicted that the greatest area of growth for the market would be in a new emerging market segment, thin servers.
"Thin servers are plug and play devices, which can be used straight out of the box with little technical knowledge required. In Europe, this market will grow from a $500 million market this year to $8 billion by 2004," she said.
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