IBM overtook HP for the global server top spot in the third quarter of 2011, according to figures from research firm Gartner. However, this reflects just the revenue from sales, and HP retained the crown in terms of the volume of systems shipped.
Gartner's latest quarterly server statistics show growth on a global level, but a slight revenue decline in western Europe which the company attributed to previously strong growth in the region.
The figures also seem to show that x86-based systems are growing at the expense of other platforms, possibility an indication that customers regard these as a more cost-effective investment.
IBM also took the lead in the worldwide server market based on revenue with a figure of $3.8bn, although its overall share of the market declined 0.5 per cent year on year.
But HP can take consolation from the fact that it retained leadership in the number of units shipped, with close to 700,000 servers sold in the third quarter. However, this is actually a 3.1 per cent drop against the same period last year.
In fact, most of the major server vendors saw a slight market share decline, except for Dell, which increased its share to 14.7 per cent, and Fujitsu, which held steady at 4.7 per cent. Smaller vendors increased their share from 12.4 to 15.8 per cent.
Much of the global growth was in x86-based systems, but Gartner attributed IBM's success largely to its Power line of servers, with some contribution from the System X line.
In the EMEA region, x86 system revenue grew 6.5 per cent but Risc/Itanium Unix systems declined 8.2 per cent, while those lumped into the 'other' CPU architecture category declined 26 per cent.
"EMEA has been one of the regions with a relatively strong Risc/Itanium Unix base, however the performance of this segment is increasingly challenged by migration activity to other platforms. We forecast single-digit growth for revenue and shipments next quarter," said Gartner research director Adrian O'Connell.
The news follows HP's announcement that it is to support x86 blades in its Integrity line of mission-critical Itanium systems, in recognition of the trend towards 'commodity' x86 hardware even for high-end applications.
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