Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for HP's Industry Standard Servers and Software group, in an emailed response to a query from CRN that HP has recently tightened its execution, given more attention to its channel and partner programs, and increased accountability in its regions.
Dell declined to discuss the drop in server shipments. However, Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager for Dell server solutions, wrote in an emailed response to CRN's request for comment that the company remains confident in the profitable growth of its server business and the value it provides customers.
"While market growth is not always linear each quarter, we have gained on our competitors at a rapid rate over the past quarters and we remain confident in our goal to be the No. 1 x86 server market share vendor worldwide. From the remote/branch office to our largest hyperscale customers, we'll keep working alongside our customers to understand their unique challenges and will continue to introduce and showcase solutions that are tailored to their specific needs and provide the best performance, value and innovation. Having the top spot for x86 server market share is attainable in our near future and something we're excited about, but providing our customers with the best products in the market is always our top priority," Norrod wrote.
An industry source said that Microsoft ordered a significant number of servers for its cloud business and that this was likely a major contributor to Dell's spike in shipments in the first and second quarters.
Gartner's Hewett said Dell's growth prior to the third quarter could be related to Microsoft's purchase of Dell servers for its Bing search engine business.
Microsoft declined to discuss any such deal. However, Microsoft played a major role in Dell's privatization, providing a $2 billion loan to help finance the deal.
The comment from the industry source could be related to an ongoing relationship between Microsoft and Dell for Microsoft's Bing search technology.
Dell in mid-2011 announced it was working with Bing Maps to deploy modular data centers to create a dedicated imagery processing microsite to support aerial and satellite image types provided by Bing Maps. That continues to be an on-going process, a Dell spokesperson told CRN.
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