Server sales dead? No sir, not in Q4

Branded vendors made hay while sun shone

Gartner's Q4 server sales count has confirmed a shipment boom took place as hyperscalers, cloud buyers and on-premise all dug deep to freshen their infrastructure.

The beanies said global server revenue jumped 25.7 per cent year-on-year to $18.56bn and box sales went up 8.8 per cent to 3.19 million units.

The worldwide quarterly revenue numbers were impressive:

US $ Revenues Q4 2016 Q4 2017 2016-2017 Growth
Dell EMC 2,578,181,854 3,606,976,178 39.9%
HPE 3,392,601,012 3,578,005,770 5.5%
IBM 1,732,474,861 2,623,501,533 51.4%
Inspur 553,514,048 1,260,671,411 127.8%
Huawei 1,149,813,371 1,244,283,075 8.2%
Others 5,369,366,683 6,253,392,745 16.5%
TOTAL 14,775,951,829 18,566,830,711 25.7%

IBM revenues rose on the back of its POWER9 and z14 mainframe launches. Inspur's remarkable rise was visible with 127.8 per cent annual revenue growth; Chinese hyperscaler buyers no doubt contributing to that.

A chart shows things clearly:


The unit ship numbers show a different angle:

Server Shipments Q4 2016 Q4 2017 2016-2017 Growth
Dell EMC 562,029 582,720 3.7%
HPE 503,407 439,936 -12.6%
Huawei 245,611 257,916 5%
Inspur 141,132 235,658 67%
Lenovo 220,296 181,523 -17.6%
Others 1,265,169 1,499,578 18.5%
Total 2,938,644 3,197,331 8.8%

And a chart draws out the changes:


Lenovo is present although it was absent from the top-five vendor revenue listing. We can see both HPE and Lenovo server ship numbers declining while others rose.

IBM saw a massive server revenue hike from its POWER9 server and z24 mainframe refresh cycle, but was nowhere in the top-five vendor units list, preventing us from calculating its average server selling price (ASOP). Suffice to say it's bound to be monumental in size compared to the sub-$9,000 numbers from everyone else.

HPE revenue growth was low, at 5.5 per cent, and its shipments fell 12.6 per cent year-on-year, but its server ASP rose 20.7 per cent from $6,739 to $8,133, as it walked away from low-value server business.

Dell EMC and Inspur ASPs rose strongly too; Huawei less so, while the Others category fell.

Gartner said the regional results were a mixed bag.

  • North America revenues grew 27.6 per cent in revenues and 9.7 per cent in shipments,
  • Asia/Pacific saw 35.1 per cent revenue growth and 21.2 per cent shipment growth
  • EMEA had 19.9 per cent revenue growth but a 7.9 per cent shipment decline
  • Japan grew 4.8 per cent in revenue and declined 5.1 per cent in shipments
  • Latin America showed a decline in both shipments (negative 4.7 per cent) and revenue (negative 2.9 per cent)
EMEA Server Revenues Q4 2016 Q4 2017 2016-2017 Growth
HPE $1,167,273,668 $1,167,670,893 0.0%
Dell EMC $607,350,660 $871,675,013 43.5%
IBM $313,315,572 $524,466,677 67.4%
Lenovo $242,351,145 $309,482,123 27.7%
Cisco $209,040,000 $242,900,000 16.2%
Others $769,400,229 $850,236,099 10.5%
Total $3,308,731,273 $3,966,430,805 19.9%

HPE retained the number-one spot but was flat year over year. Second-ranked Dell EMC saw strong growth but third-placed IBM was higher still. Inspur did not feature in the top-five EMEA vendor revenue list while Cisco did, in fifth place, after Lenovo at number four.

The unit numbers show the overall decline in the EMEA region:

EMEA Server Shipments Q4 2016 Q4 2017 2016-2017 Growth
HPE 199,735 156,782 -21.5%
Dell EMC 156,525 140,552 -10.2%
Lenovo 37,830 33,079 -12.6%
Huawei 24,499 22,885 -6.6%
Fujitsu 27,730 21,814 -21.3%
Others 148,002 172,135 16.3%
Total 594,321 547,247 -7.9%

Adrian O'Connell, a Gartner research director, said: "At first glance, the EMEA server market ended 2017 positively. The main driver for the revenue growth, however, remains the increasing cost of certain components due to supply shortages, with vendors passing that cost increase on to users." ®

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