IDC: IBM to steal market share from HP in x86 space

New range of IBM servers includes power saving features that help reduce operational costs for companies

The new IBM range of Nehalem-based x86 servers and blades could see Big Blue take market share off HP, according to analysts.

IBM’s four new models are the BladeCentre HS22, System x3650 M2 and x3550 M2 and System x iDataPlex dx360 M2.

The new range is based on Intel’s Xeon 5500 series processor and aims to ease the adoption of virtualisation, simplify the management process and reduce operational costs for organisations.

IDC server analyst, Matt Oostveen, said the new product releases would likely see IBM gain some ground on HP in the x86 blade server space. On a unit basis, HP currently occupies 66 per cent of the market, while Big Blue has 22 per cent, followed by Dell on 9 per cent.

“HP is a market leader because they’ve been able to get their ProLiant brand to resonate very strongly with users and HP execute very well through their channel partners,” he said. “This is something that hamstrung both Dell and IBM and they don’t have the same level of sophistication that HP does with their channel strategy.”

Oostveen said IBM’s strength would come from the way it integrates with its other server brands.

“In the past, IBM has had four major server brands and the fact you can use one server management console to look after everything from an IBM mainframe System z through their Power Systems range to their x86 server technology is going to be an advantage for IBM,” Oostveen said. “There’s a good chance at the end of 2009 we could see the likes of IBM eat into the market share of HP.”

IBM storage and technology group business development manager, Peter Hedges, said the new systems were delivering twice the performance in virtualisation for high-end applications with up to 60 per cent reduction in power consumption.

“That is one of the largest steps forward in terms of performance per watt that we’ve seen in this space in many years,” he said.

IBM has also released new software - Systems Director 6.1 and a new Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, Integrated Management Module and IBM ToolsCenter - which aims to simplify the acquisition and usage of single system management tools with a webpage to acquire tools.

Pricing for the BladeCentre HS22 – available now – starts from $3929, the System x3550 M2 will begin at $4879 and the x3650 M2 from $5509. Both of the latter units start shipping in Australia from mid-April. The new System x server range will be available through Ingram Micro, Cellnet and Avnet.

In other news, Cisco has also begun making its mark on the blade server space, but IDC’s Oostveen said Cisco’s play would probably come into effect in 2010.

“2009 for them is going to be around putting their feet in the water to see how the temperature is,” he said. “They’re not going be engaging in large bid business instead they’re going to be utilising their technology and applying that to specific users and usages.”

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