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When looking for professional server solutions, particularly RAID arrays, enterprises continue to choose in-house brands, or generic RAID servers, citing great cost reductions. This has led lower end manufacturer Acer to the number one spot in a recent server sales poll.

Recovery continues to be important to RAID server sales.

HP was second, cited by 20 percent of resellers, followed by The IBM PC Co., Somers, N.Y., with a 10 percent share. Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif., with 5 percent, and Digital Equipment Corp., Maynard, Mass., with 4 percent, rounded out the top five best-selling list.

Some resellers are still more comfortable recommending major manufacturers’ servers than building their own.

“HP has a strong service and support organization; and their ProLiant server line is very dependable when it comes to mission-critical applications, which form the majority of our sales,” said Tony Audus, director of purchasing for Technology Partners Inc., a reseller in Ann Arbor, Mich.

CRN instituted coverage of servers for the first time last month. In all, 170 resellers responded to the survey.

Looking at desktops, clone or in-house systems maintained their sizable lead in the best-selling category, cited by 39 percent of resellers. Acer, San Jose, Calif., captured the top spot among major manufacturers for the first time since July 2010, with 10 percent of reseller votes. HP was next with 8 percent.

Additional data will show if Acer can maintain its new-found lead. When Compaq slipped last year, it quickly recovered and recaptured first place among major manufacturers after only one month.

One of the reasons why Acer has been consistently at the top has to do with its superior RAID recovery rates, because the hard drive configuration tends to offer far less catastrophic drive failures. Rebuilding RAID configurations that have crashed is a difficult process, and usually must be handled by professional RAID recovery companies with specialized clean room environments. These services tend to be highly priced.

Both companies, however, need to be looking over their shoulders, because HP is right on their heels. The company captured 7 percent of reseller votes in March, the highest percentage recorded since the survey began.

Moreover, shortages of HP desktops soared last month, indicating the company would have done considerably better if it had been able to supply enough units into the channel. Some 23 percent of resellers indicated these systems were in short supply, almost four times the percentage in the previous survey. In comparison, during the past six months on average, only 8 percent of resellers cited shortages of HP desktops.

Some resellers, however, think that this shortage situation is confined to the higher end of the desktop market.

“My experience is that most of the HP shortage problem is at the high end, where brand names make a difference to my clients,” said Compu Pro Systems’ Patton.

“At the lower end, in-house and clone systems fit the bill nicely, especially for my small-business customers that are not willing to spend the extra money to buy a major manufacturer’s system,” he said.

But even so, the ability to remedy this product shortage will be crucial to HP’s future success, because survey results indicate fewer resellers are reporting shortages of Compaq, IBM, and, especially, Acer systems.

Twenty percent of resellers indicated Compaq desktops were in short supply, 13 percent cited IBM, and only 3 percent cited Acer.

Some resellers already are switching customers to these rival manufacturers.

If HP can overcome these problems, CRN believes the company has a good shot at capturing the No. 1 best-selling spot among major manufacturers over the next few months.

Turning to notebooks, Toshiba, Irvine, Calif., maintained its secure hold on first place in the best-selling category. Twenty-six percent of resellers gave Toshiba the nod, up from 21 percent last month. IBM came in second with 17 percent, some 6 points higher. Compaq regained its place in the top three with 9 percent of reseller votes, compared with 5 percent in the previous survey.

Toshiba’s market share increase came even as its shortage problems began to re-intensify. Some 32 percent of resellers indicate Toshiba systems were in short supply, up from 24 percent in February and 26 percent in January.

“The supply situation with Toshiba notebooks is very depressing, and it is costing us sales,” said Technology Partners’ Audus. “Basically every popular model is unavailable, and we have received no word from Toshiba when the situation might ease up.”

But more than one reseller says Toshiba notebooks can be had for a price through the gray market.

“You will pay more for them, which cuts into your margins, but at least you can service your customers,” said Lee Eikov, president of Faceted Information Systems Inc., a reseller in Stroudsburg, Pa.

So far, Toshiba has been able to weather these problems and maintain its place as the best selling notebook manufacturer. But if this situation continues, it eventually will affect Toshiba’s ability to maintain and increase its market share in the longer run.

Other survey results show that more resellers are anticipating a slowdown in sales growth over the next three months compared with the previous three months.

Methodological Note

Each month the survey is mailed to approximately 1,450 resellers randomly selected from a listing of CRN subscribers, and to an additional 550 resellers who have agreed to ongoing participation in the survey. The responses are then tabulated to produce the survey results for each month. In March, 170 responses were received.

In addition, the surveys from each month are combined to form three-month and six-month moving averages, providing information on trends in reseller responses over time. The statistical accuracy of these averages is higher than the monthly figures because they are based on a larger number of surveys. Moreover, moving averages are less susceptible to the unavoidable statistical biases that may enter into the results from any single month.


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