The Revenge of the HP Server

Michael Vizard

After a two-year hiatus, it appears that Hewlett-Packard is back on top of the server heap.

Gartner has released its latest numbers concerning server shipments, which for the first time in a couple of years show HP beating out IBM in the server category.

According to Jim Ganthier, HP vice president of marketing for industry standards servers, a combination of factors are driving HP resurgence in the server category, ranging from macro-economic trends to innovations that HP recently brought to bear in the server category.

While an improving economy tends to lift all boats, HP says that its latest servers that deliver a return on investment in less than two months by reducing management overhead and energy costs are playing a big role in its server resurgence. In addition, senior IT managers are starting to respond favorably to HP converged infrastructure strategy, looking to reduce costs by creating a common IT infrastructure across multiple classes of servers.

Ganthier says customers are also making a wholesale shift toward blade servers as they look to modernize their IT infrastructure. In particular, he said interest in the HP BladeSystem Matrix servers that allow IT organizations to converge server storage and networking under a common management platform have been especially well received. As Ganthier puts it, the HP BladeSystem Matrix is 'data center convergence personified.'

Other factors at work also relate to the broad adoption of virtual machines that tend to require a lot of memory. As IT organizations discover that they can only effectively run four to six virtual machines per server, they are looking for more robust server platforms.

Ganthier also notes that it takes HP a little while longer to bring systems and power management innovations to market compared to other vendors that essentially add little to no value to the latest processors from Intel and AMD. The end result is that sometimes it takes HP slightly longer to see the results of any given server refresh cycle, which the company usually makes up for by gaining new customers that appreciate the value that HP adds to its server lineup, said Ganthier.

When it comes to servers, there's no doubt that the battle between vendors is fierce. The good new is that this battle royale is helping to spawn more innovations in the server category than any time in recent memory.

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