New sales figures out from Gartner Tuesday show that server shipments from no-name vendors other than Hewlett-Packard,, IBM, Fujitsu gained marketshare in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the year-ago period. The decrease of server business at big vendors such as IBM is not the takeaway — remember that IBM reportedly considered selling its server division — so much as the rise of little-known vendors such as Quanta and Wistron that customize their gear for big customers. The pattern isn’t new, but it’s becoming more evident.
In the first quarter of 2011, “other” vendors claimed 32.1 percent of marketshare in terms of unit shipments. HP had almost 30 percent, and Dell had 22 percent. Now the “other” guys in aggregate have moved forward and hold 37.5 percent of the market in terms of units shipped; HP has dropped to 24.9 percent, while Dell’s share was roughly flat. IBM in the same period fell from 11.8 percent to 9.9 percent.
HP is trying to shake things up with its new energy-efficient Moonshot servers. The microserver bet looks like a good one, although Moonshot’s adoption is an open question. An HP executive told my colleague Barb Darrow that the data showing the growth of white-box vendors emerged “before the world knew about Project Moonshot.”
Dell, for its part, grew year over year last quarter, but far more modestly than the “other” vendors. It’s unclear what going private will mean for the company in terms of its server sales.
Cisco grew, too, but its chunk of marketshare — 2.3 percent — is small, so growth appears larger than it actually is.
Oracle is absent from the list of vendors measured by server shipment, although its server business doesn’t look promising, either, at least not as much as for the “other” vendors. Oracle server revenue slipped more than 27 percent year on year.
The growth of Facebook, Google and other webscale companies out of colocation facilities and into their own data centers has introduced the opportunity to go with tailor-made gear that make sense at economies of scale. (At GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco in three weeks, this topic might very well come up in conversation with Werner Vogels, chief technology officer at Amazon.com, and Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure engineering.)
Some companies running lots of applications have moved in this direction as well — take Amazon and Rackspace, for example. Hence the rise of companies that do this for webscale players.
With more hardware designs becoming available through the Open Compute Project, still more business could flow to no-namers in the years to come. And that’s to say nothing of switches, a piece of hardware certainly ripe for commoditization.