Cupertino based Apple Inc has decided to ditch HP and Dell to supply its servers and instead is looking to Taiwanese firms to supply its data centre needs.
That’s according to Taiwan wire Digitimes which said some of the local white box server manufacturers have already received orders from Apple for boxes.
One of the major manufacturers of servers is Quanta, which used to specialise almost wholly in making notebooks for big vendors but has diversified its business over the last two years.
It offers servers at a price that undercuts Dell and HP and will customise the machines for customers which already include giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Apple said recently it will open data centres in Ireland and in Denmark and it’s also spending billions on building up data centres in the USA.
The company is also cuddling up to IBM and wants to release tablet machines that will appeal to enterprises rather than the home users it has depended on in the past.
IDC said that the storage market ended well. In the last quarter, worldwide enterprise storage systems revenue grew 7.2 percent year on year to amount to close to $10.6 billion.
And capacity shipments rose by 43.7 percent compared to the same quarter the previous year to represent 99.2 exabytes.
Eric Sheppard, a research director at IDC, said spending on enterprise storage grew in most markets worldwide with factors including demand for midrange systems using flash memory and systems designed for hyper scale data centres.
EMC was the top dog in fourth quarter, with a 22.2 percent market share. That company was followed by HP (13.8%), Dell (9%), IBM (9%) and Netapp (7.2%).
Figures supplied by market analyst company Gartner showed that the worldwide server market grew 4.8 percent in shipments for the fourth quarter of 2014.
And revenues grew 2.2 percent in that quarter, compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.
Jeffrey Hewitt a VP at Gartner, described server market for the whole of 2014 as showing strong growth. Growth for the whole year was 2.2 percent.
“Hyper scale data centre deployments as well as service provider installations drove the X86 market upwards,” he said. “Enterprises had less unit growth impact because of the ongoing presence of physical server consolidation through X86 server virtualisation. This overall market growth developed despite declines in both mainframe and Unix platforms.”
HP was the leader server vendor in the quarter in terms of revenues, but only grew 1.5 percent in the whole year. Its market share is 27.9 percent worldwide. IBM showed a decline of 50.6 percent, and Lenovo had extraordinary growth of 743.4 percent. This is because IBM sold its X86 server business to Lenovo in the fourth quarter.
Dell is the second biggest vendor with 17.3 percent in terms of revenues, IBM third, Lenovo fourth and Cisco fifth. “Others” had a market share of 28.6 percent.
HP also led the pack in terms of shipments, pushing out 642,007 units in the fourth quarter.
Dell said it has introduced the second series of of its XC Series web scale converged devices.
The units are aimed at data centre customers and Dell claimed they have now over 50 percent more storage capacity and twice the rack densities.
They’re intended to support many different kinds of workloads including private cloud, big data and virtual desktop infrastructures.
The appliances are based on Dell PowerEdge server technology with Nutanix software and bundled with Dell global services and support.
The appliances now offer additional drive options including for both flash and conventional hard drives. Each rack unit can support up to 16 terabytes per rack unit, and a number of options for multiple drives, memory and microprocessors.
Dell is now offering a compact 1U form factor with the XC630 model, while the XC730xd will support up to 32 terabytes of memory.
The units will be up for sale in early March.
While there’s some uncertainty about the future of PCs in the enterprise, there’s one area which continues to do well, and that’s desktop workstations.
IDC released a report saying that the global workstation market grew in the fourth quarter of 2014 by 8.8 percent – amounting to shipments of 946,089 units. For the whole year, shipments amounted to 3.7 million units, representing an 8.9 percent growth compared to 2013.
The USA and Western Europe have the lions share in the desktop workstation market. Both account for 63.6 percent of worldwide shipments.
But emerging markets are growing faster than developmed markets, with Latin America showing double digit growth for the fourth calendar quarter in a row.
HP is the leading vendor with 44.6 percent of market share, while Dell had 35.8 percent market share.
The number three vendor is Lenovo, which took share from both Dell and HP anc achieved 33.1 percent yearly growth. Fujitsu and NEC occupied the fourth and fifth positions respectively.
Dell said it has
extended its ProSupport Plus service for both PCs and for tablets.
The company claimed it’s the first to offer proactive and predictive support for these devices.
It also claimed that with this package in place, people will spend up to 84 percent less time on technical support calls.
The company claimed that IT departments spend around 80 percent of their time on routine operations and support.
The service will be available to both Dell customers and to its channel partners – and includes cover for a number of situations.
Those include coverage for drops, spill and electrical surges; hard drive retention after replacement and workflow management for support cases, as well as self service case management and parts dispatch.
Tin box shifter Dell is bringing the latest version of Ubuntu to its top-of-the-line Precision M3800 workstation laptop and the latest model of the Dell XPS 13 .
Dell’s top-of-the-line Precision M3800 workstation laptop is available with Ubuntu Linux 14.04.
Dell’s Director of Developer Programmes Barton George wrote in his blog that programmers had been asking for a bigger, better officially supported Ubuntu Linux developer laptop.
The Precision M3800 came about from a combination of the efforts of Dell software engineer Jared Dominguez and enthusiastic user support.
George stated that the Ubuntu-powered Precision M3800 developer edition’s comes with preloaded Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the next generation of the world’s thinnest and lightest true 15-inch mobile workstation a starting weight of 1.88kg and a form factor that is less than 0.71 inches thick
The lap top comes with a fourth generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, professional grade NVIDIA Quadro K1100M graphics, and up to 16GB of memory. It will have a 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) screen option
The only thing that Dell could not shove under the machine’s bonnet was Thunderbolt 2 which could not be supported out of the box.
This was because Dell’s Ubuntu factory only ships Ubuntu LTS releases it could not ship with official Thunderbolt support.
“However, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, starting with upcoming Ubuntu 14.04.2, you will be able to upgrade your kernel to add some Thunderbolt support. We plan to be working with Canonical to re-certify the Precision M3800 with official Thunderbolt support,” he wrote.
It will be $50 less than the corresponding Windows configuration.
While there were shortages
of monitor panels last year that caused only 133.6 million units to ship, some vendors have done better than expected.
Those are vendors that bundle monitors with desktops, according to research outfit WitsView.
And Dell is one those that does just that. Replacements for Windows XP had a knock off effect that put Dell on top with a market share of 15.8 percent worldwide.
Another PC manufacturer, Lenovo, also had a boost from the enterprise market and had 9.7 percent market share.
The top 10 vendors are Dell, Philips, Samsung, HP, LGE, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Viewsonic and Benq,
Philips had a particularly good year in China.
Samsung, which was top vendor for four clear years, only managed to make it to number three with 11.9 percent market share.
HP had 10.7 percent commercial monitor market share, so it’s breathing down Samsung’s neck.
Things went better for
the notebook industry last year, according to a report from Taiwanese research house Trendforce.
That was largely due to people replacing Windows XP systems and the market itself promoting low priced notebooks.
The survey said shipments of notebooks in 2014 hit 175.5 million, a year n year growth of 3.6 percent.
The leader in the X86 pack was HP, followed by Lenovo, Dell, Asus and Acer.
But the real stellar performer in 2014 was Apple, because it lowered some prices. It showed year on year growth of 46.4 percent, and increased its market share to 9.3 percent.
Here, according to Trendforce, are the top runners and riders in the notebook race.
A price war has developed
on the server front after multinationals faced competition from original design manufacturers (ODMs) that make the machines.
Over the last year or so, companies such as Quanta Computer have undercut Dell and HP and won big orders from the likes of Google and Amazon.
reports that HP is fighting back by striking a deal with giant Taiwanese combo Foxconn to offer cut price X86 servers to customers.
Meanwhile, Dell has struck a deal with Microsoft to offer cloud based systems in a bid to sell private cloud data centres.
But while the news might be good for enterprises looking to pay less for their X86 servers, it can’t be good news for margins.
And Intel, which supplies the majority of microprocessors that power servers, must be worrying about an effect it may have on its margins.
Apple and Samsung
were the biggest buyers of semiconductors in 2014.
Together, they bought $57.9 billion worth of chips last year, up by $3.9 billion in 2013, according to Gartner.
In terms of the total market for semiconductor, both companies’ accounted for 17 percent of the total market.
Gartner said the two firms have been top of the semiconductor consumption market for four years in a row.
That, said analyst Masatsune Yamajo, means decisions they make “have considerable technology and pricing implications for the whole semiconductor industry”.
Samsung was still top buyer but its decision to withdraw from some parts of the PC market as well as losing market share to other vendors meant its growth rate wasn’t as great as in the past.
Gartner estimates that the top 10 companies bought $125.6 billion of semiconductors, accounting for 36.4 percent of the whole market in 2014.
After Samsung and Apple, the remaining eight top ten buyers were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Sony, Huawei, Cisco, LG Electronics and Toshiba.
The entire semiconductor market worldwide amounted to $339.9 billions last year.
Sales of PCs
in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) grew by two percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Although that’s hardly a stellar figure, Western Europe showed better results with growth of 10.7 percent.
In all, shipments amounted to 93.3 million units.
IDC’s report said that the market grew because of healthier shipments to ordinary people in the quarter, with vendors stocking up for Christmas and January sales.
Next month, there will be Microsoft promotions which will bring prices down on notebooks with less than 15-inch screens.
HP, and Lenovo dominated the market place, with shares of 23.3 percent and 19.6 percent respectively.
Dell has 9.8 percent share in EMEA, followed by Acer, Asus and “others”.
Sales of notebooks
during the fourth quarter of 2014 amounted to 46 million units.
That’s according to Digitimes Research, which said in a report that shipments were flat compared to the same quarter in 2013.
Of the notebooks shipped, Taiwanese original design manufacturers (ODMs) shipped 36.6 million, representing nearly 80 percent of the total marketplace.
ODMs make notebooks which are then rebranded by multinationals or sold as so called “white boxes”.
The chief ODMs were Quanta with 33 percent, Compal with 31.4 percent, Wistron with 15.8 percent, Inventec with 7.5 percent and Pegatron with 6.9 percent.
Digitimes Research said HP was the number one vendor in the quarter with 23 percent market share, Lenovo second, Dell third, Asustek fourth, Acer fifth, Apple sixth, Toshiba seventh, Samsung eighth and Fujitsu ninth.
SecureWorks, the security arm of Dell, has found malware which it has dubbed “Skeleton Key” which shows up weaknesses in the password system.
The attack consists of installing rogue software within Active Directory, and the malware then allows attackers to login as any user on the domain without the need for further authentication.
It has weaknesses as an attack vector — installation requires administrator access or a flaw on the server that grants such access.
But Skeleton Key has some interesting coding which could point to something even nastier in the future. It does not actually install itself on the filesystem. Instead, it’s an in-memory patch of Active Directory which makes detection even more difficult.
Access is not logged and the malware is completely silent and, as a result, extremely undetectable. Identifying the malware using traditional network monitoring also does not work due to the fact that Skeleton Key does not generate any network traffic.
In its current form, the malware does not survive a system reboot, which means that it has to be a continuous hack, but such things are possible, particularly if you have a disgruntled sysadmin.
Companies can also make the malware useless by having a two-factor authentication to connect to servers, VPN, email and the like. So in otherwords leaning on passwords is pretty much suicide.
Shipments of PCs
during any fourth quarter used to be strong until two years ago.
But figures released by Gartner said that worldwide PC shipments grew by a miserly one percent during the last quarter of 2014.
Shipments amounted to 83.7 million units and analysts at the company think the results are a “slow but consistent improvement after two years of decline”.
Tablets had been responsible for displacing PCs but that peaked in 2013 and the first half of last year.
People are drifting back to PCs, said Gartner, although different regions showed different results.
The US market showed the highest growth and the European region was strong too.
Lenovo is now the worldwide leader in shipments with 19.4 percent of the market, followed by HP and Dell. Acer and Asus were fourth and fifth.
HP showed growth of 16 percent in the quarter, while Lenovo’s growth slowed.
The chief driver for sales were mobile PCs including thin and light. Prices around the $300 mark helped boost sales.