NT Gaining Ground in Server Market

Unix servers will maintain their leadership position, but NT will be the key engine for growth within the worldwide server market, according to a report by International Data Corporation (IDC).

IDC’s “Server Market Review and Forecast, 1998-2003” predicts that NT will expand its share of the worldwide server market from 13.8 percent in 1998 to 30 percent in 2003. This significant jump represents a 25 percent compound annual growth rate. NT’s expected 30 percent market share translates to $26.9 billion in end-user spending by 2003.

“NT’s phenomenal projected growth rate will put pressure on every aspect of the server market. Don’t be surprised to see irrational behavior from both customers and vendors, who will be feeling NT’s momentum and Unix’s response,” said Vernon Turner, vice president of IDC’s Worldwide Commercial Systems and Servers research program. “In addition, if you throw in the emerging trends of appliance servers, information utilities, continued market and technology consolidation, and new vendor-based business models, the server landscape in 2003 may be unrecognizable.”

The overall worldwide server market will grow in customer revenues from $65 billion in 1998 to an astounding $88.8 billion by 2003, according to IDC’s report. Factors pushing this server growth include technology substitution, the development of information utilities, and increased sales to small and medium-sized business that are replacing many high-level, standalone machines with servers designed for multi-user applications, IDC found. Demand for Internet servers is also expected to rise as self-employed business people have the potential to expand the market for multi-user machines.

IDC also found that, in the short term, a number of year 2000-related issues are expected to affect the shipment levels for servers. However, IDC predicts the server market will see major differences by region, customer type, and platform.

Unix servers will maintain their leadership position as the largest operating system platform, according to IDC. By 2003, Unix servers are expected to capture $37 billion in end-user spending, or 41 percent of the total server market. Vendor consolidations and midrange focus will shape the Unix server market. As IA64 chips become available, IDC predicts a trend toward fewer versions of Unix.

Outside of the six named operating systems (NetWare, NT, Unix, OpenVMS, OS400, OS390), IDC distinguishes Linux as one whose initial impact will mainly be among home users of PCs rather than business users of servers. IDC also expects that symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) and clustering are poised to increase in importance for the overall server market. In the short term, chip types favor RISC; however, as IA64 machines progress, the increased performance could shift the current trend.

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