Q3 2011 IDC Worldwide – Steady as She Goes

Hot off the presses is the latest IDC worldwide server market revenue report for Q3 2011. The gist of the report is that while some of the numbers are slightly adjusted, really not much has changed in the blade server market.

Revenue growth for the entire server market (all servers, not just blade servers) slowed considerably showing only 4.2% year over year growth bringing in $12.7 billion. Growth in the world of servers continues but this marks the slowest growth rate for any quarter since Q1 2010. IDC believes that overall server sales will continue to decelerate due to weakening economic conditions around the globe. “After nearly two years of steady revenue growth, the server market began to decelerate in Q3 2011 as demand stabilized for many system categories,” said Matt Eastwood, group VP and general manager. Incidentally, IBM and HP are both holding steady, tied for the #1 spot in revenue share, at 29.8%.

When looking at the blade server market specifically, growth was steady for Q3 2011 but not as explosive as Q2 2011. IDC reports “solid growth” in the quarter with a revenue increase of 16.4% year over year (vs 26.9% growth in 2Q11). Shipments increased 2.4% (vs 6.2% reported growth for 2Q11). One thing that hasn’t changed since last quarter is that 89% of all blade revenue is driven by x86 systems. Also, blade server sales representing  20.8% of all x86 server revenue. This shows continued steady growth for the blade server segment but that the pace may be slowing slightly.

#1 market share: HP managed to hold the majority margin moving to 51.0% in Q3 2011 from 51.9% in Q2 2011.

#2 market share: IBM continues to see its margin chipped away slightly down to 18.5% in Q3 2011 from 19.1% in Q2 2011.

#3 market share: Cisco’s disruptive market penetration seems to have slowed at 10.7% overall compared to a solid 10% in Q2 2011.

#4 market share: Even Dell dropped slightly to 7.2% revenue share from 8.2% last quarter.

In looking at the totals, the top four vendors represented 87.4% of the revenue share in the blade servers market which is actually down 2% from last quarter. Cisco grew revenue share by less than 1% which means that some of the displacement of the remaining top vendors is not accounted for. Does this mean there may be some new players in the “others” category that we should be watching? Without a detailed breakdown it’s hard to tell but I’ll definitely be looking forward to comparing the numbers next quarter to see if the trend continues. It could, after all, just be a factor of the margin of error in the statistics.

According to Jed Scaramella, research manager, Enterprise Servers at IDC, “Blade systems represented the fastest growing segment in the server industry and now account for 16.0% of total server revenue – a historic high.”

Probably the most interesting aspect of the report is the introduction of hyper-scale servers. “Hyper-scale servers are designed for large scale datacenters with streamlined system designs that focus on performance, energy efficiency, and density.” This sounds like the mantra for blade servers with the main difference being the lack of management and high availability capabilities at the hardware level. Basically these represent the miles of simple, rack mount commodity servers used by the likes of Google and Facebook. This is a $428 million dollar server segment and growing.

For the full IDC report covering the Q2 2011 Worldwide Server Market, please visit IDC’s website at http://www.idc.com.