Planet Mainframe News

IBM mainframe licenses a “value vector” for IBM: CFO

Despite the murmurings about the end of the mainframe, IBM’s Q1 earnings made headlines last week by beating EPS expectations. And while Big Blue’s better-than-expected performance can’t be credited to one single factor, according to IBM CFO Jim Kavanaugh, mainframe software licenses should not be discounted. 

In truth, far from it.

At a recent Morgan Stanley conference, Kavanaugh spoke to the value of Big Iron software licenses, which offer a profit margin of “$0.80 to $0.90 on every dollar of growth.” This adds up to a tidy sum for IBM, according to Kavanaugh, “about 30% of our software book of business.”

Kavanaugh’s assessment underlines the continued importance of transaction processing software as a “value vector” for IBM: 

“Our transaction processing software, by the way…runs on our mainframe architecture that supports over 90% of the transactions in many different industries, financial services, retail, airline industry, et cetera. That is a very important value vector for IBM….It carries a very high profit and cash generation that provides financial flexibility for us to reinvest.”

Source: Seeking Alpha

USPTO reinvents itself with mainframe modernization

The US Patent and Trade Office has undergone many technological transformations since its establishment in 1802, but perhaps none more challenging than the most recent overhaul. 

Responsible for registering and tracking new inventions across the country, in 2018 the USPTO underwent a rude awakening to the inadequacy of its IT systems during an outage of the organization’s Patent Application Locating and Monitoring (PALM) database. The outage, which lasted for over a week, meant that patent applications had to be filed by other means, accruing paper filing fees as well as an awareness that it was time for a massive and complex IT redo.

Hired in 2020, CIO Jamie Hocombe has spent the last few years overseeing the necessary organizational and technological transformation, including a major mainframe modernization project. The latest milestone in the USPTO’s database overhaul was the successful decoupling of its Trademark Distribution Information System from the Trademark Register Application Monitoring (TRAM) system – a forty-year-old mainframe application written in Algorithmic Language (ALGOL). 

“The old TRAM is actually synchronized with a new CRM system, so we’ve been having to update both in order to make sure there’s good data quality and integrity,” Holcombe said. “That’s our big focus this year, and then we can finally take that anchor away from our neck.”

This part of the project is due to be completed in September 2023, by which time Holcome predicts database development teams will be able to move on to working on Agile and DevOps methodologies accompanied by infrastructure automation via Kubernetes and containers.

Source: IT Operations

Sonja Soderlund is an Oregon-based B2B freelance writer. Whether writing about mainframe computers, educational technology, or sustainable retail, she strives to bring clarity to complex issues. Connect with her at or LinkedIn.