Global revenue from server and external original equipment manufacturer (OEM) storage systems fell flat during the fourth quarter of 2020 in just about all regions around the world, apart from China, which bucked the trend.
This is according to the latest data by industry data and analyst firm IDC, which claims that vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew by just 1.5 per cent year-on-year, to US$25.8 billion during the three months ending 31 December 2020.
At the same time, worldwide server shipments actually declined by 3 per cent year-over-year, to nearly 3.3 million units in the fourth quarter.
However, volume server revenue was up 3.7 per cent to US$20.4 billion, while midrange server revenue also increased 8.4 per cent to US$3.3 billion. But high-end server revenue declined fairly substantially, dropping 21.8 per cent to US$2.1 billion.
According to IDC infrastructure platforms and technologies senior research analyst Paul Maguranis, the one part of the world to see relatively strong growth in the server segment was China.
"Global demand for enterprise servers was relatively flat during the fourth quarter of 2020 with the strongest increase to demand coming from China (PRC)," Maguranis said. "From a regional perspective, server revenue within PRC grew 22.7 per cent year over year while the rest of the world declined 4.2 per cent.
“Blade systems continued to decline, down 18.1 per cent, while rack optimised servers grew 10.3 per cent year-over-year. Similar to the previous quarter, servers running AMD CPUs as well as ARM-based servers continued to grow revenue, increasing 100.9 per cent and 345.0 per cent year over year respectively, albeit on a small but growing base,” he added.
Although shipments declined slightly or remained relatively flat for most server vendors during the quarter, the joint venture between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and New H3C shifted more product than any other vendor during the period.
Dell Technologies came in second, followed by Inspur/Inspur Power Systems, IBM, Huawei and Lenovo, respectively.
At the same time, global market revenue for enterprise external OEM storage systems declined 2.1 per cent year-on-year, to US$7.8 billion during the fourth quarter of 2020, according to IDC. However, the total external OEM storage capacity shipped in the period was up 11.3 per cent year-on-year to 23.8 exabytes.
And while total enterprise external OEM storage systems revenue was down, revenue generated by original design manufacturers (ODMs) selling directly to hyperscale data centres grew by 2 per cent year-over-year, to US$6.6 billion, while capacity shipped grew by 7.6 per cent year over year to 76.0 exabytes.
In this segment, Dell Technologies was the largest external enterprise storage systems supplier during the quarter, followed by HPE/New H3C Group, Huawei, NetApp and IBM took the third, fourth, and fifth positions in the market, respectively.
Once again, China was the only region to significantly buck the global trend.
"Geographically, the lone region to experience growth during the quarter was China, which grew nearly 30 per cent year-over-year and was bolstered by strong performances from a series of locally headquartered vendors,” Greg Macatee, IDC infrastructure platforms and technologies research analyst, said.
“Another of the overall enterprise storage systems market bright spots was the ODM Direct segment, which grew this quarter at a rate of 2 per cent annually,” he added.