Facebook Effect? Rackable Server Sales Soar

Gartner cites strong server sales for Rackable, which is likely driven by recent orders from Facebook and Amazon (AMZN).

Rackable Systems (RACK) says it posted the fastest one-year sales volume growth among leading sellers of x86 servers in North America, according to industry analyst firm Gartner. Rackable's sales increased 23 percent from the third quarter of 2006, according to Gartner's quarterly review of server sales. That outpaced the broader industry growth rate of 8.7 percent, as well as the sales performances by HP (+20.2%), Fujitsu (+17.4%), Dell (+5.4%), IBM (-3.9%) and Sun Microsystems (-4.5%).

What's behind the numbers? Rackable has always sold lots of equipment to Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO), who are both busy building data centers. But in the past year it saw significant sales from two newer customers: Facebook and Amazon (AMZN). Facebook has been buying servers and adding data center space to keep pace with its huge growth, while Amazon continues to build out the infrastructure for its utility computing services, S3 and EC2.

"We believe Gartner's evaluation of Rackable Systems' growth in the server market is a testament to the loyalty of our valued customers and our value proposition," said Mark J. Barrenechea, president and CEO of Rackable Systems. "We think the numbers attest to our ability to design and deploy built-to-order, Eco-Logical solutions to organizations of all sizes."

Rackable's sales have also likely been helped by early shipments of its ICE Cube portable data center. The company says it has shipped three units and expects to ship three more by mid-2008. Each 20-foot ICE Cube container can contain thousands of processors.

And then there's Microsoft, a large Rackable customer which opened a huge new data center in Quincy, Washington in early 2007 and is building additional centers in San Antonio, Chicago, Ireland and perhaps even Russia.