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If you were looking for a concrete indication of how IT spending is at the moment the recent figures from Gartner on server shipments and revenues offers just that. The figures show that in the first quarter of 2013 revenues from servers dropped by 5%, while shipments fell by 0.7% globally.

IT Spending Weak

While there has been a lot of talk about the fall-off in spending on IT over the past two years with some interesting figures to back that up, the decline in the server market is probably one of the better indicators available.

As enterprises fight for market share with competitors they are being forced to continue spending on business technologies like customer relationship management applications, or big data and associated business analytics tools. As a result, server spending is, in many instances, being put off on the long finger.

Needless to say this is not an ideal situation for enterprises, but it can be done, at least until there is more disposable capital floating around.

Server Revenues

The result is that apart from Asia/ Pacific and the US, which showed revenue increases of 7% and 1.7% respectively,  spending on servers everywhere else was in decline.

In terms of revenues, IBM held onto the top spot with US$ 3 billion in server vendor revenues world wide, which represented 25.5% of the market, down 2.5% on the same period in 2012.

It is worth noting in this respect, however, that IBM only came in third in terms of shipments with 230,446 shipments, or 9.9% of the market, behind both HP and Dell, which took first and second spots in the shipments table.

All of the vendors that made it into the top 5 for revenues suffered, with the interesting exception of Dell, which despite the fighting at corporate level over who, how and when it should be privatized, managed to grow its server market revenues by 14.5%

Gartner Server Revenues Q1 2013

In shipments, there was finally some concrete good news for HP, which the figures show, remains the top-server-dog even if the number of shipments declined by a dramatic 15.5%.

That this is a general problem, reflecting current economic realities rather than an HP-specific problem is seen by virtue of the fact that two of the other companies in the top 5 -- IBM and Fijitsu -- declined by 13.9% and 15.0% respectively.

Server Shipments

Dell again did well in terms of shipments with growth of 2.6% on last year, while Cisco shipments increased by a massive 33.0%.

Gartner Server Shipments Q1 2013

A final set of figures here that are telling concern IT and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. We have pointed out before that this region is weighing heavily on IT spending figures generally and figures for server revenues and shipment really underscore this.

Overall, shipments just passed the 580,000 units mark in the first quarter of 2013, a decrease of 6.8% from the same period last year while revenues totaled US$ 2.96 billion, a decline of 9.6%.

However, the EMEA was not the worst hit this time around with Japan experiencing a 19.0% decline. Asia/Pacific and United States were the only regions to show growth.

Server image courtesy of Oleksiy Mark (Shutterstock)