Rackmount Server Sales Surge
31, 2000 - IDC reports that unit sales of rack-optimized Intel-based servers
increased over 55% from 4Q99 to 1Q00, compared with a 2% decline for the
overall Intel server market.
the meantime, major Intel server vendors are planning to increase their
rack-optimized products offerings in the coming months.
This trend has been obvious for a long time, so we're surprised it took
the market so long to catch up to the pundits. Levity aside, we have been
anticipating a shift from a pedestal-centric model to a rack-centric model
for a while. (see "Dell's
High-End Rackmount Servers - Challenging Compaq's Wintel Dominance")
Vendors and customers have been getting the "grow up not out" (GUNO) message.
Recent figures indicate an increase in momentum toward that model. Although
one quarter's numbers hardly mean an overwhelming trend, the 50+% increase
in the face of a 2% decline of server sales overall shows its strength.
IDC has estimated that 94,000 rack-optimized servers were sold in the
US in 1999, we believe the figure is closer to double that amount.
believe the major part of the reason for the stunning increase is the
recent acceptance of "server appliances" and "thin" servers, systems that
are usually rack-mounted. These small, focused-functionality devices -
typically caching servers or Web servers - have experienced tremendous
growth in recent months. Rather than buying an eight-CPU, 7U-high (1U
= one "rack unit" = 1.75" high), companies like ISPs are choosing to buy
1U-high servers that have one or two CPUs. The incremental cost to add
a server is significantly lower for these units, making them desirable
for companies expecting healthy growth but still watching the dollars.
the reason, we expect vendors and consumers to increase their focus on
rackmount servers in the coming year.
Although rackmount servers are not for everyone, they have a lot of built-in
advantages: no-footprint-increase when adding more systems (up to a point);
easier administration (everything's in one rack, the admin can check fault-light
status at a glance); centralized equipment.
companies with clearly bounded requirements should still consider pedestal/tower
configurations before moving to rackable systems. For these companies,
the usual growth issues relate to disk storage space, and they should
just buy a system with enough base features and internal expansion capability.
In addition, vendors are increasingly designing their pedestal systems
to be rack-mountable, so users should look for this capability. However,
buying a rack-optimized system is not necessary at this stage.
and large companies, especially those expecting an increase in traffic/usage
(either internal or external), need to look at servers that best address
their needs. Users need to understand if the usage will be compute-intense,
storage-intense, transaction-intense, I/O intense, etc., and base their
purchase decisions accordingly. For general-purpose computing, you should
consider a system with a good balance of CPUs, disk drives, PCI slots,
and so forth. For Web caching or serving, go for an appliance, maybe buy
some rackable external storage, plan to buy more later.