Mainframes break winning streak as Asia switches to blade servers

Even as global revenues from server computers, used for heavy work by companies, slipped 5.4% in the final quarter of 2011, they were up 2.4% in the Asia Pacific, led by strong sales in China.

Similarly, while number of servers shipped in the quarter increased only 4.5% globally, they were up 15.7%, technology market research firm Gartner said.

The main reason for the performance was strong demand in China and excellent sales of thin or blade servers.

Sales of mainframe platform, dominated by IBM, fell 56% in the quarter, Gartner said. But revenue from x86 servers grew 18 percent year-on-year, and shipments were up 17 percent.

The x86-based server sales represented 98 percent of total shipments in the quarter and raised their share of total revenues to 67 percent from 58 percent in Q4 2010 and 62 percent in the previous quarter.

The quarter was not kind to most of the big brands, with three of the top five seeing a decline in revenues. The exceptions were Dell, which saw a 28% rise in revenues and Lenovo, which saw a 126% rise.

Dell, in third place in the blade market, firmed up its share of both shipments and revenue, accounting for 11 percent and 9 percent respectively, up from 8 percent and 6 percent in Q4 2010, fueled by significant take up in blade servers.

Compared with the same quarter of 2010, HP saw revenue decline 14 percent, mainly because of a slowdown in demand for its x86 servers.

IBM continued to the top the revenue charts, accounting for 40 percent market share despite experiencing a decline of 3 percent year-on-year due to the poor show by mainframes.