Last year was the worst year in Sun's 20 year history.|
| The combination of the IT
recession, 9/11, and Sun's shooting itself in the foot with technical problems
in its cache memory (thereby blowing away its hard won reliability image
advantage over Wintel) and the slowness of developing faster SPARC processors
could leave you with the false impression that all was doom and gloom in the
SPARC systems market.|
Despite the computer
industry having a bad time in 2001 (lowlights included the first ever year to
year decline in PC shipments, and the biggest ever losses in the semiconductor
market) there were a few bright spots emerging which you may have missed, if you
thought Sun's fortunes were typical of the SPARC market as a whole.
server segment continued showing double digit year on year revenue growth as
customers turned to telco style packaging to reduce cost of ownership. This
trend was also reported in the Intel architecture server market, and was a very
fast growing segment for Dell Computer. Because rackmount configurations require
a high degree of customisation and testing to meet specific user requirements,
this is a segment that's not actually dominated by Sun, even though many (but
not all) of the companies in this market area do use Sun motherboards. The "pile
them high and ship them fast" strategy which worked so well for Sun in the
boom dotcom days, doesn't work in this more conservative market segment.
market started apprehensively in 2001 as manufacturers and integrators
expected to feel the cold winds of the budget cuts promised by the Bush
administration finally working their way through to them. But 9/11 changed all
that. Most integrators in this market have been reporting publicly (and
privately) an upsurge in spending. For the US government national security has
replaced tax cuts as the #1 priority, and the underinvestment in security and
and defense during the last few years is now seen as a mistake. 2002 and beyond
will see high growth rates for companies in this area.
high-availability SPARC server market saw many companies reporting very high
double digit revenue growth in 2001. Originally this was a niche segment within
the telecom market, but I expect that this kind of system will branch out into
the mainstream, and the whole segment could easily see 50% year on year growth
in 2002. Although Sun has a toehold, it is really a bit player in this market.
Nevertheless Sun benefits from supplying cPCI SPARC motherboards to some of the
HA SPARC companies (although
actually ships more SPARC cPCI cards than Sun.)
SPARC market, other fast growing segments in the enterprise computing market
market, like the Intel portable market, has not seen the same down downturn
experienced on the desktop. While figures are not available, we've seen a new
coming in to challenge the market leader
Several other companies also have toeholds in this market, and if the desktop
market continues to decline during 2002, we may see more viable alternatives
appearing in a portable format.
state disks (which many users are turning to, to speed up their SAN access).
This segment saw a 500% year on year increase in buyer interest during 2001, and
despite falling memory prices, many SSD makers reported high double digit
revenue growth during that period. I expect this to accelerate during 2002, as
more users become aware of the benefits of using this type of technology.
- Many companies in the
Tape library segment
reported double digit revenue growth during 2001 while remaining profitable.
Increasing volumes of digital data everywhere make libraries the most cost
effective way of archiving network information.
And what about Sun?
- The wildcard, and unexpected success story in 2001
was the huge surge in interest in
cutback on IT spending has made this look like an attractive option for mid
range users who have not yet wired up with
Fibre-channel. It offers
the promise of getting some SAN
functionality by leveraging existing IP networks. Capability is one thing, but
performance is another. But many users will be happy to use the off-site disk
synchronization offered by iSCSI and don't really need the faster performance of
fibre-channel in their internal networks. There are few real products in this
market, and many vendors have been taken by surprise by the speed with which
this new concept has been picked up by the user community. If "interest"
translates into "buying" then this will be one of the fastest growing
product areas in 2002, and could do much to restore the sagging fortunes of
Cisco and other IP switch makers.
the prospects for many SPARC companies look good for 2002, Sun, like most large
corporations will be slower than more nimble medium sized competitors to react
to changing customer needs. It demonstrated its inability to do that in the fast
growing network storage market in recent years, where despite its best efforts
it has lost significant market share. It may be 2003 before Sun again reports
quarterly revenues as good as its historic highs.
In 2001 Sun proved
what many in the semiconductor market have been saying for years, that Sun's
strength lies in writing C code, operating systems and compilers, and not
in chip design. Unless Sun can cure the constipation in its chip design area to
get faster products out the door, it will lose more enterprise server market
share to the faster Intel chips.
This may be the best opportunity ever
for Fujitsu to show its chip making prowess. The 2GHz SPARC chips are what the
market is waiting for.
Dataquest Reports on the Server and Workstation Markets in 2001
JOSE, Calif. - January 30, 2002 - in 2 press releases today Gartner Dataquest
shipments in 2001. The results, below, are preliminary. Final statistics will
be available soon to clients of Gartner Dataquest's related research programs.
year 2001 marks the first time in the history of the workstation market that the
industry experienced a decline in shipments from the previous year. Dell
extended its lead as the No. 1 vendor in worldwide workstation shipments, as its
market share grew to 32.4%. IBM was the only other top 5 vendor in 2001 to
experience an increase in shipments from the previous year
worldwide server market in 2001 experienced its lowest annual growth rate in
unit shipments since 1996. Worldwide server shipments totaled 4.4 million in
2001, a 1.8% increase from 2000. Compaq remained in the top spot with 23.3% of
the worldwide market share, followed by Dell and IBM, with 16.1% and 15%,
respectively. Dell and IBM were the only vendors to record positive
year-over-year growth. ...Gartner
|cPCI SPARC processors
from Force Computers
|rugged SPARC servers|