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Why Hyperscale Cloud Providers Lead the Server Market

IT Vendor revenue in the worldwide server market increased 19.9 percent year-over-year to reach $17 billion in the third quarter of 2017 (3Q17), according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

While demand from cloud computing service providers has driven overall market performance in the past, other areas of the server market are beginning to show growth. Worldwide server shipments increased 11.1 percent year-over-year to 2.67 million units in 3Q17.

Server Systems Market Development

Volume server revenue increased by 19.3 percent to $14.2 billion, while midrange server revenue grew 26.9 percent to $1.4 billion.

High-end systems grew 19.4 percent to $1.3 billion, benefiting from the IBM z14 launch this quarter. That said, IDC expects continued long-term secular declines in high-end system revenue, with short periods of growth related to major platform refreshes.

"Hyperscalers continued driving volume demand in the third quarter, with Amazon again leading the charge, as Google and Facebook also began ramping up their server deployments again," said Kuba Stolarski, research director at IDC.

While Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) have largely been the beneficiaries of hyperscaler server demand, some OEMs have now begun to experience significant growth related to the enterprise segment.

Dell grew its server business by 37.9 percent, relying on the strong synergy between its server team and the storage team incorporated from the EMC acquisition. HPE has been pivoting away from hyperscaler business and focusing on the enterprise, hurting year-over-year comparisons in the short term, but showing strength in the enterprise.

China has become a strong market for enterprise growth, as evidenced by Dell growing 42.3 percent year-over-year to $433 million, and HPE/New H3C Group growing 49.6 percent to $421 million. In addition, IBM has demonstrated that the enterprise still has space for non-x86 systems, growing the newly refreshed system z business by 63.8 percent year-over-year to $673 million.

HPE/New H3C Group remained first in the worldwide server market with 19.5 percent market share in 3Q17, as revenue decreased 1.1 percent year-over-year to $3.3 billion. HPE's share and year-over-year growth rate includes revenues from the H3C joint venture in China that began in May of 2016; thus, the reported HPE/New H3C Group combines server revenue for both companies globally.

Dell maintained the second position in the worldwide server market with 18.1 percent of vendor revenue for the quarter and 37.9 percent year-over-year growth to $3.1 billion. IBM and Cisco were statistically tied for the third market position.

IBM had 6.4 percent share, with revenue growing 26.5 percent year-over-year to $1.1 billion. Cisco had 5.8 percent share, with revenue increasing 6.9 percent to $992 million.

Lenovo was ranked fifth with 5.1 percent share and revenue declining 12.6 percent to $861 million. The ODM Direct group of vendors grew revenue by 45.3 percent to $4.1 billion. HPE and Dell were in a statistical tie for first place in unit share, each with 18.8 percent.

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