Is there a white-box server in your data center’s future?


The stagnant server market has heated up over the last few years, due in no small part to the advent of “white box” server vendors grabbing an increasing share of the cloud business.

Enterprises have been reluctant to follow the lead of hyperscale data center vendors to off-brand server competitors, largely because of a lack of enterprise-grade service and maintenance options. But the economics are compelling.

“White box” is a reference to the off-brand PCs built by independent PC vendors, which used to dot the landscape and appeal to buyers who built their own PCs with a plain beige tower and no vendor label on the box. In the server market, “white box” refers to vendors that are not the big three: Dell EMC, HP Enterprise and Lenovo.

According to IDC, in the second quarter of this year, Dell EMC led the server market with 574,000 units sold, followed by HPE with 443,000 and Lenovo with 224,000. But the next three players weren’t familiar data center vendors Cisco, Oracle, or Nutanix. Rather, it was China’s Inspur with 203,000 units, China’s Huawei with 187,000, and Super Micro from the U.S. with 175,000. The rest of sales were tossed into a group called ODM Direct, which accounted for 732,000 units.

Sales from those non-big-three vendors are going almost exclusively to hyperscale data-center vendors like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Equinix, Cloudflare and other companies building data centers measured in acres.

And the Fortune 500? Not so much. They are sticking with the name brands, according to IDC.

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