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High-performance computing and mainframe refresh limit server decline

IDC's market share data for server shipments shows mainframe users are running Linux on the z13, while high-performance computing (HPC) lifts x86 sales

Mainframe upgrades and high performance computing (HPC) have helped to limit the decline in server sales for Q2 2015, according to analyst IDC.

In the second quarter of 2015 the EMEA server market saw an end to the continued growth of the previous four quarters, with supplier revenue at $3.1bn and 525,059 units shipped — a year-on-year decline of 2.5% and 4.5% respectively, IDC stated.

Although Windows-based servers still constitute 51.4% of Western European revenue, Linux systems continue to ramp up, the analyst noted.

In particular, IDC found the new z13 mainframe was driving adoption of Linux.

"The noticeable growth in mainframes can be attributed to two key factors," said Giorgio Nebuloni, associate research director, European Infrastructure, at IDC.

"The first is the cyclical refresh of installed base with the latest IBM System z13 systems, which were made available at the beginning of 2015. The second is the use of Linux as a bridge to expand mainframe use in existing accounts in adjacent areas, with either consolidation initiatives or big data projects.

"Due to the cyclical pace of refreshes, we remain cautious on non-x86 system spending for the second half of 2015."

Andreas Olah, IDC senior research analyst, European Infrastructure, said: "On the x86 side, several HPC projects – mainly by universities and meteorology institutes – contributed to larger volumes that helped avoid a greater overall decline in shipments."

"ODMs are continuing to gain wider traction with double-digit growth rates, driven primarily by large service providers but also increasingly by inroads into other sectors such as telcos. While blades remain popular for higher-end machines, standard x86 rack servers are the only form factor that managed to grow year on year in unit terms this quarter in Western Europe."

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As Computer Weekly previously reported, the strong US dollar has had an impact on server sales. The flat performance of the Western European market in dollar terms in 2Q15 – a decline of 0.3%, year on year – was mainly driven by the strengthening of the dollar against European currencies, IDC noted.



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