IDC: Need for Scale Drives Midrange Servers

Users' increased need for scalable SMP (symmetrical multiprocessing) systems boosted the Unix-dominated midrange server market to US$17.6 billion [B] in 1998, according to research by International Data Corp.

The demands of database servers and Internet-based application workloads grew the market at a rate of about 5 percent for the year, according to Lloyd Cohen, research director for the Framingham, Massachusetts, market researcher's commercial systems and servers group.

For 1999, Cohen said he expects the market to grow at a rate of 7 percent, with a growth in e-commerce activities contributing to stimulating demand for midrange servers. In the next year, IDC sees vendors investing research and development funds to add high-end, mainframe technologies to their 64-bit Unix environments. These technologies include clustering, with further availability and scalability enhancements, such as support for eight or more nodes; partitioning, to support mixed operating systems or just to provide a testing facility within the installed production environment; and Fibre Channel support.

RISC Unix platforms still dominate, representing 67 percent of the market, IDC's research showed. IBM led the market in 1998 with a 28 percent share of revenue, totaling $4.9 billion [B]; the company's S70 Raven server accounted for a growing percentage of RS/6000 product line revenues.

In second place with 23 percent of the market, Hewlett-Packard Co. boosted its revenue over 1997 by 35 percent with a total of $4.1 billion [B] in this segment.

Sun Microsystems Inc. took third place; IDC characterized the vendor as having a "tremendous year" during which it increased its market share to 13 percent from 1997's 9 percent. Sun's revenue for this segment were $2.3 billion [B], according to IDC. IDC credited Sun with improving the performance of its midrange line with the introduction of UltraSparc II and the use of technology from its high-end E10000.

Further down the list were Siemens and Compaq, each with 4 percent of the market, although Siemens' $757 million [M] in midrange server revenues topped Compaq's $693 million [M].

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