HP Remains HPC Server Market Leader


The top vendors in the North American market were: Palo Alto-based HP, with one third, or 33 percent of the market; Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, a close second, with 30 percent of the market; Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, capturing 17 percent of the market; Santa Clara-based Sun Microsystems, taking 8 percent of the market; followed by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SGI at 2 percent of the market.

North America accounted for 50 percent of the worldwide HPC server market in 2007, IDC said.

Worldwide, the market for HPC servers climbed 15.5 percent in 2007, reaching a record $11.6 billion, IDC said. Based on actual results for the first three quarters and preliminary fourth quarter results, the HPC server market resumed strong double-digit growth in 2007 after sliding to 9.2 percent growth in 2006, the first single-digit increase since 2002.

IDC, of Framingham, Mass, also said that over the five-year period from 2002 to 2007, the HPC global server market increased an aggregate 134 percent at an average annual compounded rate (CAGR) of 18.8 percent. IDC projects that this market will reach $15 billion by 2011.

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While the HPC server market has yet to mature, Steve Conway, IDC's research vice president in the HPC group, said the huge shift in the HPC server market is a far cry from an earlier years.

"In the 1990s, it looked like a rustbelt," said Conway. "It was about one-fifth of the size it is today."

Conway said that the market started taking off in 2002 and by 2005, it was the fastest- growing IT segment, even beating out gaming. He attributed the gains to the spread of HPC servers in big business and industry.

"Who would have thought that WalMart would be using HPC servers to decide what to put in its stores?" he said.

Herb Schultz, IBM's deep-computing marketing manager, said that the study is a confirmation of observations IBM been making for a while and that it seems like customers all up and down the price band are having a greater recognition that HPC is a real way for to drive competitive advantage.

"Year in and year out, the ability to access this stuff is easier and cheaper all the time, Shultz said. "Customers that maybe a few years ago might have thought -- or maybe it was a reality -- that they couldn't afford it or that they didn't have the staff or skills, are finding that's easier to acquire this stuff as applications get better and easier to deploy, a lot of the barriers have been broken down, especially at the low end."

Schultz said that IBM has been working diligently in the last few years to cultivate that channel because the company does see a lot of growth at the lower end of the market

"It's such a big, fast-growing market," he said. "A lot of these guys don't have big staff to go out and do RFPs and benchmarks, so they rely on vendors. These are partners that can go out and make recommendations and deliver the products. Nowadays, you see a lot more packaged systems coming out where the customer doesn't have to do much integration at all-the business partners have been playing a bigger and bigger role."

IDC's Conway also said that his results in operating systems for the HPC market show that there's no question that Linux is the clear leader, taking 66 percent of the market. "In 2000, basically the market was all Unix," he said. "By 2001, Linux started coming into the market. "Linux is popular because it's low cost and ubiquitous -- it's everywhere and you have a large community where you can run and add features."

But Conway said not to count Windows out just yet. He expects Microsoft will gain more momentum in the HPC server market but it's still in its infancy compared to the leaders. Microsoft is making a big effort and is serious into getting into the HPC server market, Conway said and believes that there will be a lot more users coming into the market at a lower price point that Microsoft can provide.