Unix set to power on in Asia

Asia Pacific will continue to see sustained growth in the Unix server market throughout 2001, despite the anticipated slowdown in corporate IT spending in the United States, said Avneesh Saxena, associate director of systems and server at International Data Corporation Asia Pacific and Hong Kong.

Internet, e-commerce and server consolidation will create new opportunities for major hardware vendors such as Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., Saxena said. "Traditional companies are likely to move away from proprietary platforms to Unix as they look for a mission-critical platform which is more cost-effective in the long term."

Competition among the vendors in Asia will be fierce as they devise strategies to garner market share and exploit those new areas. "Pressure will be on them to introduce new and improved products, offer better price performance, long term technology roadmaps, applications availability, channel dynamics and so on," he added.

In Singapore, HP has recently announced that it is investing S$70 million (US$40.3 million) over three years to set up a Unix manufacturing plant to produce its Unix L-class server, along with all its Unix workstations and Unix storage products.

"The additional manufacturing capacity is key to us being able to meet the demand that the market has," said Tan Lee Chew, general manager, Business Customer Sales Organization, HP Singapore.

Already, production for the workstations has begun, and is running at full capacity, said HP. The rest is expected to begin in the second quarter.

Commenting on the HP move, Suzie Low, Gartner Dataquest's senior industry analyst of server/workstations and storage, said, "Singapore is a good choice as HP can tap and/or build on existing manufacturing facilities and Unix products enjoy higher margins."

IBM sees Unix demand driven by large companies using e-business applications.

"Many are web-enabling their legacy applications, while adding new classes of applications," said Claudia Tan, IBM's country manager, web server, business unit.

"We are experiencing the fastest growth in the mid to high-end range as our customers are currently consolidating their e-infrastructure back-end systems," Tan added.

Wong Heng Chew, managing director at Sun Microsystems Singapore, said for companies to gain global advantage, dot-comming their brick and mortar businesses and investing in Internet infrastructure would be one of the priorities in capital spending. "So, we will continue to see a shift to Unix," Wong said.

According to IDC, Unix revenue in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) for first half 2000 was over US$1.45 billion, up from US$1.08 billion the previous year. In Singapore alone, it was US$92.09 million in 1H2000, an increase of 49 percent over 1999.

The first half 2000 results released by IDC showed Sun Microsystems ahead of its rivals with 34 percent of market share in the region. Both HP and IBM are tied at 23 percent, while Compaq remains at 12 percent.

"The writing's on the wall about Unix platforms playing a crucial role in the future," said Saxena.

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