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Report: Server Growth To Be Paced By Blades, Linux

IDC analysts expect the overall enterprise-server market to grow 5 percent in 2004.
The worldwide server market is expected to grow 5 percent this year, with some segments--Linux and blade categories, in particular--about to break out, according to a new report.

IDC expects the overall enterprise-server market to grow 5 percent in 2004 and to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years of 3.8 percent, as the dollar value of the market moves from $53 billion this year to $60.8 billion in 2008.

"Unix is still the biggest dollar spent--$19.4 billion," said IDC's Mark Melenovsky in an interview Wednesday, as he outlined annual revenue figures for server operating systems. "Even so, Unix suffered a little bit of a decline last year--6 percent down." Melenovsky, an IDC analyst specializing in servers, predicts a turnaround for Unix this year, however; he figures Unix-server sales will increase by about 3 percent.

The most dramatic growth is for Linux-based servers. IDC says they are growing at a 47 percent rate, although from a small base, reaching $3.23 billion this year. The Linux market is expected to capture 29 percent of the server market by 2008, nearly tripling its current market share.

"There continues to be very strong growth in the X86 industry standard-server market--particularly for Windows and Linux-based solutions," Melenovsky said. "Growth has been strong for everything from standalone systems in small offices to several hundred node clusters in enterprise data centers."

IDC said the blade-server market is a key growth category, with sales expected to hit $9 billion by 2008--and that is from a near-standing start in 2000. Melenovsky suggested that the advantages of blade servers are changing, as the initial benefit was largely value; today server advantages are marked not just by value proposition, but also by tools and secondary advantages, like ease-of-deployment and ease-of-management. He noted one Linux-based server application that is taking off: clustering configurations to carry out high-performance computational tasks.

Steve Josselyn, another IDC analyst specializing in the server market, reported that a "good environment" for hardware and software replacement is helping to produce new enterprise spending for IT infrastructure, as users migrate to more robust systems. The major suppliers are IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems.

IDC expects the U.S. to hold on to its dominant share of the worldwide market, followed by Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan). The market-research firm anticipates the strongest growth--about 6.5 percent--will come from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as from the Asia/Pacific region.

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