Server Showdown: Top 10 Server Brands

NPD Server Brand Showdown

Servers are the brains and brawn of any company, and tracking which company is building the best equipment and selling the most has become near sport among business-savvy technophiles. Speed, handling, and cost all factor into which company dominates the North American server market, which IDC reported reached $22 billion for 2012.

That's why when The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market sales research company, releases new market share data CRN cares. So who is this quarter's Mario Andretti of the server market? Read on to discover NPD's top 10 list of companies that earned the biggest piece of the sales' pie for servers in June, the most recent numbers available. It should be noted that this NPD market snapshot is of dollars spent on servers and build-to-order servers sold in June of 2013 through distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex and others. The NPD Group's Distributor Track sales database is comprised primarily of U.S. Global Technology Distribution Council members.

10. NEC

Japanese IT supplier NEC rounds out NPD's top 10 list for dollar market share winners for servers in June. NPD didn't identify one system that landed NEC in the No. 10 spot; however, the system builder has been reportedly doing brisk business selling Itanium-based Unix servers for the past year.

NEC's latest family of servers include its Express5800/1000 series that sport Intel's Xeon E7 processor and a 100 series blade server designed specifically for virtualization with "lower" power consumption.

9. Acer

Like many of the server brands making NPD's top 10 server list, there was not one Acer standout system that helped the Taiwanese-computer maker land on the list.

Acer's server sweet spot includes its F2 systems aimed at both data center and SMB customers. The F2 line began shipping last summer with features that include improved operating system support, mainstream and open-source platforms.

8. Super Micro Computer

Motherboard and white-box server maker Super Micro Computer, according to NPD, saw flat growth when it comes to gains and losses of the server sales' pie. The Intel partner, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., makes rack-mount, pedestal and blade servers, as well as high-end workstations and storage appliances.

Despite its flat performance on NPD's June snapshot of dollars spent on servers, Super Micro reported this week in its fourth fiscal quarter ending in June 30 that the company made $322.3 million in revenues, a 16.8 percent jump over the previous year.

7. Intel

Intel's server components business landed the chip maker into the No. 7 spot for dollars spent on servers in June, according to NPD. The market research firm didn't identify one product; however, since early 2012, the company's Enterprise Platform and Services Division has rolled out eight new server platforms, giving white-box solution providers a host of new high-performance options for their purpose-built servers and appliances.

According to NPD, Intel's share of dollars spent on servers in North America inched up a mere 0.2 points.

6. Dell

As Dell deals with major turmoil in its leveraged buyout war between CEO Michael Dell and activist investor Carl Icahn, it's keeping its head in the server game. Like Lenovo, not one Dell server made NPD's top 10 servers ranked by dollars spent. But according to NPD, Dell's server business is up by a 0.6 percentage point -- inching up from 0.9 to 1.5 percent. All said and done, Dell's piece of the sales dollar pie shot up 60 percent, according to NPD. Not too shabby.

5. Lenovo

No single Lenovo ThinkServer system catapulted the computer maker to the No. 5 spot. NPD didn't identify any systems, but then it hasn't been long since the computer maker began building ThinkServer systems; it was only November of last year that Lenovo's Enterprise Product Group announced its first servers, storage, networking and software products.

One of its debut products was the ThinkServer TD330 tower server based on Intel's Xeon E5-2400 processors. The server supports up to 16 processor cores with the base unit starting at $929.

When it comes to unit share, not dollar share, NPD reported that Lenovo continued to make the most gains, capturing 5 percent of HP's 6.2 percent unit share losses for June 2013.

4. Oracle

Oracle can thank sales of its eight-core Sparc T4-2 server for ranking it No. 4 on NPD's server list. The Sparc T4-2 server isn't Oracle's latest or brawniest server, but it has found a sweet spot serving companies craving single- and multi-threaded enterprise applications.

Oracle didn't budge from its standings last June, earning 2.8 percent of the dollar shares spent on servers in 2012-13, according to NPD.

3. Cisco

Cisco Systems slid into the No. 3 spot for server market share dollars. According to NPD data, Cisco's share of the server sales' pie jumped 1.8 points from 10.3 to 12.1 percent. Cisco's success is tied to its cloud and VMware-friendly UCS B200 M3 blade server with beefed up networking and data center scalability, according to NPD.

2. IBM

IBM's big server hit was its built-to-order BladeCenter servers that earned it NPD's No. 2 spot in dollar share of the server market. IBM's dollar share increase was the most impressive of the NPD pack, jumping 6.8 percentage points from 20.6 to 27.4.

NPD reports IBM captured more than two-thirds of Hewlett-Packard's dollar share losses.

1. Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard is both this month's biggest winner and loser. HP attracted a whopping 52 percent of dollars spent on servers and build-to-order (BTO) servers shipped in June, beating its next closest competitor IBM by over 20 percentage points, according NPD data of the North American server market.

But, then there's the bad news. While HP rocked the server earnings dollar chart, its market share nosedived 10 percentage points compared to June 2012. HP's losses were the worst among those tracked by NPD for that time period. According to NPD, all of HP's competitors gained dollar market share or saw flat growth compared to the previous year.

According to NPD, this June's biggest industry hit was HP's BTO ProLiant BL460c blade systems server with a list starting price of $2,950.