The server market is in the doldrums, according to figures from research firm Gartner, with worldwide shipments growing by just 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2013 while revenue fell.
Worldwide, HP led the market in both units shipped and revenue generated, delivering an estimated 669,103 servers during the quarter, an increase of 5.4 percent against the same period last year.
Meanwhile, IBM shipments fell by 28 percent and Dell by 14 percent. However, Chinese vendor Huawei posted huge growth of 202 percent, as shipments rose from 23,027 in Q3 2012 to 69,573 in the Q3 2013.
Gartner said that the server market remains in a "relatively weak performance mode", with most regions around the world showing little or no growth during the quarter, while in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the situation is worse with shipments down 7.2 percent.
In fact, server revenues have now declined in the region for nine consecutive quarters and shipments have declined for eight, Gartner said.
This situation can be attributed to a mix of factors, including weakened demand due to the economic climate, but also broader shifts in the server market from Unix and other platforms towards low-cost x86 boxes, according to Gartner research director Adrian O'Connell.
"The other element is the growing influence of external service providers who are often building their services on lower-cost hardware platforms. On top of that, there are increasing options for users in terms of who they procure from, with the original design manufacturers (ODMs) increasing their reach," he said.
However, even x86 servers showed only modest growth in shipments of just 2.1 percent globally, while RISC and Itanium Unix servers declined by 4.5 per cent.
Interestingly, Gartner's "other" processor category, which primarily refers to mainframes, showed an increase of 7.8 percent in shipments. This should be good news for IBM, which is pretty much the only mainframe vendor, but its server revenues saw a decline of 18.9 percent, perhaps indicating a shift to less costly systems in its line-up.
In terms of units shipped, Dell and IBM came second and third behind HP, both globally and in the EMEA region. In EMEA, Cisco is catching up with Oracle in a battle for fifth biggest vendor, with less than one percent market share difference between the two.
Cisco's focus on the blade server segment is helping it to achieve strong competitive gains at a time when the overall market is getting increasingly constrained, Gartner said.
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