Unix platform decline: Some vendors faring worse than others

With Unix use in nearly universal decline, some Unix system vendors are faring better than others, but no one is winning.

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Unix use is in decline. Among Unix vendors, there have been losers, and there have been worse losers.

Unix OS

Part one: What is Unix's share of and role in modern data centers?

Part two: Unix platform decline: Some vendors faring worse than others

Part three: Unix vs. Linux debate dies down as Linux risks diminish

Part four: Unix-based applications hold steady in large enterprises

In the early 2000s, Sun Microsystems was neck and neck with Hewlett-Packard Co. for the top spot in the Unix market, with 30% share, and in 2008, the year before Sun was acquired by Oracle Corp., it still enjoyed 29% share. But by 2012, its share had dropped to a mere 19%, with no signs of growth.

Oracle's entrance into the Unix market also accelerated HP's misfortunes. In 2008, HP held 27% of the Unix market with HP-UX systems based on the Intel Itanium processor, but had dropped to 19% in 2012. That decline was in part due to Oracle's decision to stop developing new versions of its software for the platform, which pushed shops running Oracle apps on HP-UX to look elsewhere.

"HP's Itanium business appears to be fading rapidly," said Fichera, as evidenced by the company folding its Business Critical Systems and Industry Standard Servers business units into a single HP Converged Systems group this spring. "As far as new HP Integrity systems are concerned, Intel's next-generation Itanium 'Kittson' is probably the end of the line."

Things are better over at IBM, which has capitalized on Oracle and HP's missteps, and now commands 56% of the Unix market, up from 26% a decade ago. But it's not all fun and games for IBM Power Systems either. In the second quarter of 2013, IBM reported that its Power Systems business had dropped a full 25% over the same quarter the year before.

Chart 1. Thanks to the missteps of competitors, IBM tops the chart of Unix vendor winners and losers.

 

2003

2008

2012

Total revenue, in billions

$17.6

$16.7

$9.1

Sun/Oracle

30%

29%

19%

HP

32%

27%

19%

IBM

26%

36%

56%

Other

12%

8%

6%

 

This was first published in October 2013

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