IBM announced yesterday that its System z mainframe revenue had dropped almost 20% in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2008. Still, during a conference call with investors yesterday, IBM Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge claimed that IBM “continued to have strength in the high end” of its servers due to virtualization, increased efficiency, and good returns on investment.
It’s hard to find a bright spot in a 19% revenue decline. Needless to say, Loughridge tried. He said the first quarter was the fifth consecutive quarter that there was double-digit MIPS growth on the mainframe. Numbers were particularly strong on the mainframe’s specialty engines, especially the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL).
“MIPS grew 18%,” he said. “MIPS from specialty engines were up nearly 20%, driven by over 50% growth in Linux MIPS.”
The growth of Linux on the mainframe is nothing new. Last year there were estimates that more than half the MIPS that IBM sold since rolling out the System z10 mainframe have been on Linux. With a more than 50% growth in Linux MIPS since last year, those estimates are becoming more and more plausible.