Server vendors making the transition from being box-shifters need to be more open with users about their plans and support more third-party software.
In a presentation at the Dataquest Predicts 99 conference in Paris, senior Gartner Group analyst Jane Doorly said as the industry moves away from the old box-shifting model, server companies are going to have to change their approach to grow.
She said: 'Server vendors need to articulate their strategy to users.
This is fundamental to their long-term survival. There has been too much holding back on telling users the plans they need to know. For example, absence of comment on Merced inhibited non-Risc players and allowed Risc players to plant doubt in users' minds.'
Doorly added that vendors should realise hardware is not an end in itself, and they will need to partner with other companies to fill in the gaps they cannot provide themselves. She highlighted the fact that the two leaders in the server market, IBM and Compaq, were strongly challenged by Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems last year, and had lost market share to them.
Doorly claimed the merger of Compaq, Digital and Tandem was not performing well and was suffering from Dell's success in the low end of the market.
'It's possible that Compaq has taken its eye off the ball in this area.'
She added that weaknesses in IBM's RS/6000 line has led to losses in market share and that the only segment the manufacturer fared well in last year was AS/400.
Overall, Doorly said, the combined Unix and NT server market grew by 21.9 per cent to reach $9.31 billion in terms of revenue in 1998. She predicted that the greatest area of growth would be in the emerging thin servers market.
'Thin servers are plug and play devices, which can be used straight out of the box with little technical knowledge required. In Europe, this market will grow from a $500 million market this year to $8 billion by 2004,' she said.
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