HP is the company to beat
The anonymous poster above (#2 comment), you have made a number of claims without providing much of convincing evidence, if any. I think there are a number of errors in the way you described each vendor. Allow me to refute your claims:
The King of x86 server space. HP has great momentum and I think anytime any customer makes a purchasing decision, there is no way they can ignore HP without giving a very hard look -
HP has a long x86 server history, a huge install base (especially when you combine with Compaq), they know the x86 space in and out, have the right mix of R&D to solve customer problems efficiently that a DELL can never do for example and are able to provide their products at a very attractive price, in many cases even beating DELL - just to name a few. They invest in R&D at all levels beginning with hardware, firmware, software and the momentum they have in the marketplace shows that the return is huge. HP has a great presence in the volume consumer space similar to DELL and they are able to offer lower price compared to others and even matching or beating DELL in a few cases.
The primary weakness for IBM is that their products standalone are more expensive compared to others, even compared to Sun in some cases. IBM can match or exceed HP in many scenarios in terms of being able to offer the complete solution, and they can go one step ahead in terms of being able to take over the entire IT operations of many big companies.
Over the last few years DELL has discovered that low price isn't everything a customer looks for. Their absence from AMD server space have hurt them a lot, specially against HP. While it is true that DELL has grown faster compared to others in the last quarter (well not all, actually Sun has grown percentage revenue faster in x86 servers but their market share is so small that it probably isn't even worth mentioning), their products are still weak compared to HP. Even now DELL competes primarily on price. HP is very focused on Blade and have a better solution compared to others, just look at how fast their blade market share has grown after releasing C-class blades last year, while DELL has trailed further and further in the blade market. DELL has a dubious track record on blade, they claim that blade isn't good for everything (well, may be for valid reasons) and this is exploited by HP and IBM. Notwithstanding what Infoworld's product review says, DELL is way behind HP and IBM in terms of offering a complete blade package - note the blade market share speaks volume about this claim. BTW, the way you are beating the DELL drum, looks like you either work for DELL or are a huge DELL fan - (no offense intended). They are trying to build a channel model, but this is not easy and often in conflict with their direct sales model. Well, we will see if DELL can continue to do as well in x86 server space as they did last quarter, I am certainly hopeful.
Your claims about Sun are barely true. While their market share didn't increase much in terms of overall x86 server market share, Sun's x86 server revenue actually increased almost 50% in the last quarter. They have gone to 5th position in terms of x86 server revenue and right behind Fujitsu-Siemens. I think they did pretty good, in spite of having a number of weaknesses compared to others:
- Sun doesn't sell Windows server yet on their hardware, so they already were not even reaching more than 50% of the market.
- Sun didn't have any Intel product line, this already made their offerings uncompetitive compared to others, specially with quad-core Intel CPUs selling very hot over the last few quarters.
- Sun didn't have a general purpose blade offering until last quarter.
- Weak storage offerings
- Expensive compared to HP and DELL, but less expensive compared to IBM.
- Sun's servers are also top rated in Inforworld reviews, much like how DELL winning the so called "battle of the blades" - but CIOs have to look at many other aspects when making a purchasing decision. The Infoworld review does not even look at the compelling features HP blades provide compared to others.
While some of these issues are gradually being fixed by Sun, they will remain a distant player in x86 server market for the foreseeable future, but they will continue to grow their x86 business at a healthy rate.
Bottom line is, I would generally agree with the findings of the survey. HP and IBM are perceived much more credible server vendors in terms of being able to offer the complete top-to-bottom infrastructure and do them with competence. DELL will still need to continue working on their credibility problems. HP is very well positioned in the x86 server market, but they need to continue innovating to be in the limelight. IBM will keep doing well based on their ability of offering everything, and Sun has to struggle very very hard to gain more x86 credibility.