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IBM Power Systems Servers Most Reliable for Seventh Straight Year; Lenovo x86 Servers Deliver Highest Uptime/Availability among all Intel x86-based Systems; Cisco UCS Stays Strong; Dell Reliability Ratchets Up; Intel Xeon Processor E7 v3 chips incorporate advanced analytics; significantly boost reliability of x86-based servers

In 2016 and beyond, infrastructure reliability is more essential than ever.

The overall health of network operations, applications, management and security functions all depend on the core foundational elements: server hardware, server operating systems and virtualization to deliver high availability, robust management and solid security. The reliability of the server, server OS and virtualization platforms are the cornerstones of the entire network infrastructure. The individual and collective reliability of these platforms have a direct, immediate and long lasting impact on daily operations and business results. For the seventh year in a row, corporate enterprise users said IBM server hardware delivered the highest levels of reliability/uptime among 14 server hardware and 11 different server hardware virtualization platforms. A 61% majority of IBM Power Systems servers and Lenovo System x servers achieved “five nines” or 99.999% availability – the equivalent of 5.25 minutes of unplanned per server /per annum downtime compared to 46% of Hewlett-Packard servers and 40% of Oracle server hardware.

Those are the results of the latest independent ITIC 2016 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability Survey which polled C-level executives and IT managers at over 600 organizations worldwide in January 2016. ITIC’s seventh annual Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability poll indicates that the inherent reliability of server hardware and server operating system software continues to improve. However, the results also reveal that external issues, most notably human error, security breaches and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are playing a more pivotal and direct role in solidifying or undermining reliability. Overall, the inherent reliability of the majority of server hardware platforms, server operating systems and the underlying processor technology continues to improve year over year.

Survey Highlights

Among the top survey findings:

  •   IBM Power Systems servers 1% — of > 4 hours of per server/per annum downtime of any major mainstream hardware platform.
  •  IBM z Systems Enterprise mainframe had the highest overall reliability, performance, security and manageability amongst all hardware platforms.,  
  •  IBM Power Systems and Lenovo x86 server hardware running the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Ubuntu open source operating systems were either first or second in every reliability category, including virtualization and security.
  •  Cisco, Dell, IBM and Lenovo server hardware received the highest marks for customer satisfaction and overall technical support.
  •  Oracle x86 and HP ProLiant servers experienced the highest percentages — 10%, each — of >4 hours of per server annual downtime.
  • Dell PowerEdge Server reliability notched a measurable increase with only six percent of the Dell servers experiencing in excess of 4 hours of downtime versus 13% in the 2014 survey. Much of the higher outage time on the Oracle, HP and Dell platforms is attributable to a high proportion of users retaining the hardware for four, five and even six+ years without refreshing/retrofitting the servers.
  • Some 51% of survey respondents reported that aged or inadequate hardware (3 ½+ years) has had a negative impact on server uptime and reliability vs. only 31% of respondents that said it has not impacted reliability/uptime.

In summary, the reliability and availability of the underlying server hardware and server OS platforms is more crucial than ever as organizations increasingly deploy leading edge technologies like Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobility.

For the sixth year in a row, corporate enterprise users said IBM server hardware delivered the highest levels of reliability/uptime among 14 server hardware and 11 different server hardware virtualization platforms. A 58% majority of IBM servers achieved “five nines” or 99.999% availability – the equivalent of 5.25 minutes of unplanned per server downtime compared to 46% of Hewlett-Packard servers and 40% of Oracle server hardware.

Those are the results of the latest independent ITIC 2014 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability Survey which polled C-level executives and IT managers at over 600 organizations worldwide during March and April 2014.

The survey results showed that the overall reliability HP’s servers increased significantly in 2014 compared to the 2012 and 2013 polls and surpassing the uptime of rival Oracle servers which remained the same or declined slightly compared to prior polls. Cisco Systems, Inc.’s Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, which appeared for the first time in this year’s ITIC Reliability poll, made a very strong showing, posting uptime equal to or better than HP (depending on the category) and bested only by IBM server reliability. Half – 50% – of Cisco UCS server hardware users said they achieved 99.999% of per server/per annum availability.

IBM AIX v7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Highest Security Marks

Nine out of 10 — 90% — of the 470 respondents to ITIC’s 2010-2011 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey rated the security of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 R2 and IBM’s AIX v7 as “Excellent” or “Very Good.” This was the highest security ratings out of 18 different Server Operating System distributions (See Exhibit below). Three-quarters or 75% of survey participants gave HP UX 11i v3 “Excellent” or “Very Good” security ratings; this was the third highest ranking of the 18 major server OS distributions polled. This was followed by Ubuntu Server 10 and Debian GNU/Linux 5, which tied for fourth. Seven out of 10 survey participants — 71% — of those polled ranked the two most popular open source distributions’ security as “Excellent” or “Very Good.” Red Hat Enterprise Linux v 5.5 and Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise 11, the two most widely deployed Linux distributions trailed Debian and Ubuntu but were nearly tied with each other in security rankings. Just over two-thirds — 67% — of Red Hat users rated its security as “Excellent or Very Good” while 66% of survey participants judging Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise 11 security to be “Excellent” or “Very Good.”

Some 58% of Apple Mac OS X 10.6 survey respondents rated its security as “Excellent” or “Very Good,” putting it at the bottom of the pack, beating only Oracle’s Solaris 10 which was rated “Excellent” or “Very Good” by 63% of respondents, which in the past two years has been notching modest gains among corporate users.

Also noteworthy was the fact that only a very small percentage of respondents gave thumbs down “Poor” or “Unsatisfactory” security grades to their server operating system vendors. In this category, Apple had the highest percentage of respondents – 7% — who gave its Mac OS X 10.6 both “Poor” and “Unsatisfactory” marks. This might appear puzzling to some since Apple’s users have long touted the security of the platform. Apple users have long boasted about the fact that there are far fewer viruses and malicious code written targeting Macs compared to Windows. However, now that Apple is once again re-emerging as a significant presence in corporate networks, the Mac OS X 10.6 will no longer enjoy the “security by obscurity” that it claimed as a standalone consumer OS. Macs, iPhones, iPads and tablets are becoming mainstream staples as business tools. Hence, the number of exploits, including such malware as worms, Trojans and bots that target the Mac is increasing commensurately. Apple will have to respond accordingly with tighter security.