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Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was the top selling data center sever vendor during the second quarter of 2017. But white box was no. 1 in terms of units shipped (23 percent share), according to the latest IHS Markit Data Center Server Equipment market tracker.

The new research finds a growing number of companies are choosing Open Compute Project (OCP) and white box servers for their data centers. White box includes all vendors that produce rack server hardware with operating system software sold separately, such as Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), Wistron, and Inventec.

OCP sever revenue reached $111.3 million in the second quarter of 2017, growing at 41 percent year-over-year. IHS Market expects these servers will represent 7 percent of total servers shipped in 2021. The research categorizes OCP servers as both OCP accepted and inspired designs.

Meanwhile total data center server equipment — this includes tower, rack, blade, and OCP servers — reached $14 billion in the second quarter, up 10 percent from the first quarter of 2017 and growing 4 percent compared to a year earlier.

OCP and NFV

Telcos deploying network functions virtualization (NFV) will be the “next wave of OCP adoption,” said IHS Markit analyst Cliff Grossner. Telcos want the same data center economics and cloud agility they see in the hyperscaler data centers, he added.

“Part of how they do that is to move to designs that have been adopted by the hyperscalers, and the OCP embodies those designs. We’ve seen the main vendors like Nokia and Ericsson and Huawei start to offer servers based upon designs submitted to the OCP. Telcos are looking at these very closely because of the economies and efficiencies that come with them, and also based on open-systems.”

HPE took home $3.298 billion in server revenue during the second quarter, representing 23 percent of the total market. Dell EMC was no. 2 with 19 percent ($2.776 billion), and white box was no. 3 at 17 percent ($2.507 billion).

Cloud service providers are expected to buy 36.7 percent of 2017 data center servers shipped, with telcos purchasing 15.6 percent, and enterprise buying 47.7 percent, according to the research.

“The white box server is still really the bastion of the hyperscalers and the very large data center operators,” Grossner said. “For HPE and Dell, their current sweet spot is certainly going to be the enterprise buyer that is less comfortable with white box. We see that as well in terms of their product strategy, which is very much focused on their core base. And we do see the white box server market continuing to grow.”

White box will represent 40 percent of all server units by 2021, with about 12.2 million servers shipped, according to the IHS Markit forecast.

Late last week QCT launched its new data center infrastructure geared toward telcos. QCT’s white-box hardware with open software running on top of it will make it easier for telcos to deploy NFV, Mike Yang, president of QCT told SDxCentral in an interview.

This is a smart business strategy, Grossner said. “We’re forecasting the market will take off for NFV and it is important for the server vendors to be positioning themselves in that market.”

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