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Cloud server shipments to skyrocket in 2012

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For anyone needing yet another data point to show that cloud computing is driving IT, check out new projections from IHS.

The researcher predicts that unit shipments of “cloud servers” — computers used to power public and private cloud computing infrastructure — will soar to 875,000 in 2012, up a whopping 35 percent from 647,000 units shipped last year.  This server segment has nearly doubled since 2010, when 460,000 such boxes sold, according to IHS, formerly known as iSuppli.

These numbers bolster other research showing that the cloud computing juggernaut continues to roll. For example, recent CB Insights data found that venture capital investment in cloud computing companies accounted for more than a quarter of all Internet-related deals and more than a third of Internet investment dollars last year.

Servers typically used to run cloud data centers have to be easy to maintain and configure, so they can be connected and disconnected with minor disruption as they fail or more need to be added as workloads grow.

That means, according to the IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms topical report, that “performance is not the key metric here; what counts instead is expandability, energy efficiency and low cost.”

The report went on to say:

[B]ecause physical footprint is valuable in a data center, the type of equipment that will find the greatest adoption in the space likely will include both rack-optimized servers and highly condensed blade servers, with their modular setup made up of a single motherboard incorporating microprocessors, memory and a network interface.

For this report, IHS analyst Peter Lin included servers used to run consumer-oriented clouds  like Apple (s aapl) iCloud, Google(s goog) services, and Amazon Web Services(s amzn) as well as more enterprise-oriented cloud platforms that target business applications. The problem for server vendors is that these huge cloud purveyors seek commodity boxes with rock-bottom prices as opposed to more pricey high-end offerings.

Lin does not expect this growth to be short-lived; he expects this cloud-server category to become the fastest growing segment in the server industry by 2015.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user The Planet

2 Responses to “Cloud server shipments to skyrocket in 2012”

  1. Kevin Murphy

    To Imran’s point – servers are the wrong metric. Actually, any physical unit by itself will greatly obscure the value of cloud related models. It’s more about density of storage, VMs, etc. Infrastructure vendors and technologies such as compression and dedupe will continue to make huge advancements, requiring any growth analysis to take into account much more than physical units shipped.

  2. Imran Anwar

    Even though unit shipments are always an easy and useful metric, I do not think they are the best measure for adoption of the cloud, and gauging cloud computing’s share of server capacity sold. As CPUs get better, virtualization software gets more effective, network latency drops and more applications can effectively be put in the cloud, I strongly believe these metrics will sell cloud’s capabilities short. Instead, more measurement based on virtualized/real units of data processed, or application cycles executed, or other more relevant metrics will be required for effective measurement and analysis of the industry. Thank you.

    Imran Anwar