Virtualization, Multicore Brew 'Perfect Storm' for Server Industry

Michael Lindenberger

Are servers becoming too powerful for their own good? Well, in a way, maybe they are. reports that a new IDC report says it has ramped down its forecasts for server sales between now and 2010, saying that the trend toward increased virtualization and the rise of multicore technology makes it possible for companies to do more with fewer servers.


According to an IDC summary of the report, the availability of multi-core technology, coupled with virtualization, will mean 4.5 million fewer servers shipped between between 2006 and 2010.

It is clear that x86-based server deployment patterns are changing dramatically in the market today. The rapid emergence of multicore architectures and virtualization technologies is significantly restricting worldwide x86 server shipments. ... x86 shipments that were once projected to increase 61% by 2010 are now facing just 39% growth during that same period.

The impact on revenue for server companies will be significant, too, though some of the lost revenue will be recouped as companies configure ever-more elaborate server infrastructures to exploit the new power available, reports.


Both trends have been long forecast, as virtualization takes its place in corporate IT departments and servers continue to improve. And seen from another light, this development is nothing new: From processor speeds to hard drive sizes to screen resolution, the history of computer technology has been one of steady and sometimes blinding improvements.


But what may be different here is that the previous improvements, no matter how dramatic, have been followed quickly by increased ways to make use of the new capacity. (Remember when consumers wondered how in the world they could fill up a 1GB hard drive?)


Here, if IDC estimates are right, it looks like the technology has moved so fast that the impact will be some time before enterprise customers figure out how to exploit it.

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