Why keep score?

I love how the vendors keep score – in keeping score I mean the way vendors track how well they are doing in the hardware marketplace.

Usually, IDC Canada does a bang up job of tracking it for them, but it amazes me that vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard each claimed top spot in the

worldwide server marketplace this month.

Each firm used the same numbers from IDC so I wonder how a vendor can claim top spot even if they did not earn it.

For example, IBM, through a press release, claims to have the overall server market share lead in front of HP, marginally.

Meanwhile, HP’s correspondence says HP is No. 1 in overall Unix servers, Windows servers and Linux servers.

So if HP is No. 1 in three of the most important server categories, how can IBM have the overall lead?

Now, even HP in their correspondence neglects to include this year’s numbers including Compaq ProLiant sales. Last year, HP was not able to include the Compaq numbers. Whether that little tidbit of information is fair or not may be a good argument for water cooler breaks, an argument I am sure IBM will try to make. However, Compaq is now firmly in the HP fold.

So let’s continue: IBM is also No. 1 in the Intel server market and in the Unix market as well. Now, wait a second, wasn’t HP No. 1 there? And, aren’t Intel servers really Windows-based servers?

They might be Linux-based or even Unix-based and maybe they can be Apache-based, but neither IBM nor HP cared to explain that.

And of course HP is No. 1 in Linux servers. They can thank Compaq for that. Compaq was No. 1 last year in this space. HP failed to mention that in its press release.

According to IDC, it is HP who has the best marketshare; however, IBM has the best revenue growth. So who is really winning the server marketshare battle?

Well a quick call to an IBM PR agency cleared up the muck a little bit.

What IBM is claiming is that it leads in all three categories in Canada, not worldwide.

What gets lost in all this positioning is where the true market opportunities lie. They do not lie in HP branded or IBM branded servers. They lie in Linux.

IDC reports the Linux server market was, once again, the brightest spot in the worldwide server market during the first quarter, posting a 35 per cent increase to US$583 million from the year-ago quarter.

In a prepared statement, Jean Bozman of IDC said: “Unit growth and factory revenue in the Linux market continue to climb, driven by increasing functionality for Linux server hardware and software and by intense competition between all the major server vendors.

While HP continues to lead the Linux market, Dell and IBM are working hard to post marketshare gains in the Linux server market.”

In the Windows server market, IDC found this segment is still growing at a clip of nearly 10 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

What this tells me is that Windows servers, which makes up the largest portion of servers shipped worldwide, will continue to be a solid market this year and next, not just for VARs who build solutions around IBM and HP, but for those who also build their own white box servers.

Let’s start keeping score in markets and not tracking which vendor is selling the most boxes.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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