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Attendees investigate their smartphone devices through a 5G sign right through the opening day of the mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The race to be the primary country to convert to 5G wireless networks is on -- and the U.S. and China each need to win. 

Lawmakers on each side are already making it a proper priority this Congress to ensure the U.S. strikes rapidly to installation subsequent-generation instant networks so China would not beat it to the punch.

The stakes are high: The nation that first broadly adopts 5G -- to be able to bring far quicker down load speeds and the means to run billions more instruments on mobile networks, including self-using cars-- will profit a competitive area on the realm stage.

So tons so, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-pass over.) referred to, that 5G has the talents to usher in a fourth industrial revolution. And dropping that advantage part to China could be unthinkable, mentioned Wicker, the chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. 

"Failing to win the race to 5G would not best materially delay the advantages of 5G for the American individuals, it could invariably cut back the financial and societal beneficial properties that come from main the realm in technology,” Wicker pointed out on the committee's first hearing of the 12 months, which became concentrated on 5G. 

The listening to highlighted the feel of urgency in Washington to work with business on facilitating the 5G rollout, above all in ensuring adequate crucial mid-band spectrum is obtainable to make sure the USA can preserve tempo with world competitors. Contracts as a way to form the basics of those networks may be negotiated in 2019, although it'll possible take five or more years for the gadget to be totally up and operating.

With their eyes on winning this digital arms race in opposition t China, lawmakers additionally observed they’re focused on guaranteeing that business adopts key safeguards towards cyberthreats and considers purchaser privateness as 5G capabilities are expected to permit expertise to develop ever extra pervasive.

Lawmakers heard a sobering account of China’s coordinated method to make frequent 5G a reality. Michael Wessel, a U.S.-China economic & safety assessment commissioner, instructed lawmakers that China is poised to make investments at least $400 billion at this factor into its 5G building. China is additionally more and more trying to exert its influence over foreign average-setting agencies such because the global foreign Telecommunications Union to benefit chinese language companies. China chairs more of the company’s committees than another country, Wessel spoke of, stoking concerns among lawmakers.

“We don't have any similar plans here in the U.S.,” Wessel told lawmakers in his opening testimony.

Congress is renewing its consideration on 5G because the Trump administration signals that government motion is approaching next-technology instant, which is among the “reducing-aspect industries of the future,” Trump mentioned in his State of the Union handle this week.  

“within the coming weeks they might predict to look motion designed to hold American R&D management in artificial intelligence, 5G, and the first deliverables from the national Quantum Initiative Act,” an administration legitimate informed me in an announcement Wednesday.

for his or her half, lawmakers might believe legislative proposals like the Airwaves Act, which turned into brought in the ultimate Congress to require the Federal Communications commission to hang auctions over the subsequent three years to provide licenses for definite spectrum bands that might permit 5G. That bill, which stalled in Congress, would have additionally allotted funding from the auctions to make sure that 5G is increased in rural areas which have been in the past left in the back of in such transitions.

5G is in its early tiers of deployment in certain constituents of the USA. In Silicon Valley, groups are eagerly investing in new technologies for you to rely on quicker wireless networks -- equivalent to artificial intelligence or augmented reality. 

the united states knows firsthand how a whole lot is at stake during this world race towards China. the united states led the world on 4G instant expertise, which enabled a era of new smartphone functions that prior networks wouldn’t have had the potential to assist.

“Ten years ago, no one imagined Uber or numerous other businesses which are stylish upon the 4G platform,” spoke of Brad Gillen, the govt vice president of CTIA, an industry community representing instant companies. “We are just scratching the floor.”

but China’s coordinated strategy makes it a ambitious opponent within the dash to herald the subsequent period of instant. The big scale of information superhighway users in China make it one of the world’s most lucrative digital markets, and the nation is going to prioritize its precise home organizations as 5G rolls out. Huawei and ZTE have every been promised a third of the 5G market in China, according to Wessel. That could create a scramble among international suppliers for the last third. 

more regarding is how these corporations may have an effect on the market backyard China. China’s organizations are deeply intertwined with the state, primarily beneath a 2018 country wide intelligence law that requires organizations to support and assist national intelligence, Wessel observed. the us is concerned in regards to the cybersecurity and surveillance possibility that chinese language organizations could pose in the event that they provide the gear that makes it possible for the backbone of so many elementary digital functions.

the us is warning European allies to not use chinese equipment for 5G networks, in keeping with a Tuesday report from Reuters. The Trump administration has weighed an government order that might give the commerce secretary the authority to dam U.S. offers involving overseas telecommunications gadget. 

“China’s innovation efforts are extensive and deep,” Wessel warned the committee. “China desires to be a worldwide innovation leader and is doing all it could possibly legally and illegally to achieve its desires.”

you're reading The expertise 202, their ebook to the intersection of expertise and politics. not a daily subscriber?


 facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify earlier than a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, about the use of facebook statistics to target American voters within the 2016 election. (AP photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

BITS: Germany’s competition watchdog told fb that its Whatsapp and Instagram features can't combine records they compile with a consumer’s leading facebook account until that user gives voluntary consent, according BBC information. The regulator also dominated that fb needs user permission to acquire facts from third-birthday celebration sites and assign it to a person’s facebook account.

The choice would severely preclude the social community’s existing records assortment practices. fb plans to attraction the determination, in line with the BBC. although the restrictions simplest apply to fb’s capabilities in Germany, it might prompt different countries to agree with equivalent rules. 

fb has one month to challenge the ruling before it turns into legally valuable. “If the order is upheld, the business must enhance technical options to be sure it complies within 4 months. If it refused to achieve this, it may in thought be fined up to 10% of its annual revenues,” the BBC mentioned.

John Legere, T-mobile's chief govt, arrives at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing in Washington on June 27, 2018. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg information)

NIBBLES: Executives from T-cell together with chief govt John Legere have booked more nights than prior to now mentioned at the Trump foreign inn in the District due to the fact that the business requested the Trump administration to approve its merger with sprint final 12 months, The Washington put up’s Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Mike DeBonis stated. My colleagues discovered that T-cell executives have booked as a minimum fifty two nights at the resort considering the fact that then – including another 14 nights to the 38 that had been previously mentioned. And the executives’ bookings have attracted the consideration of two Democratic lawmakers.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have sent a pair of letters to Trump firm officials and to Legere to demand solutions together with on how the bookings came about. “These transactions raise questions on whether T-cellular is attempting to curry desire with the President throughout the Trump organization and exacerbate their concerns concerning the President's persisted financial relationship with the Trump firm,” Warren and Jayapal wrote. The lawmakers also asked how a good deal cash T-cellular officers spent at the hotel.

The WhatsApp application on a cell display on Aug. three, 2017. (Thomas White/Reuters) 

BYTES: WhatsApp talked about it deletes 2 million accounts per 30 days with the intention to curb the unfold of disinformation as the business launched a white paper in India on “stopping abuse” of the platform, based on the Guardian's Michael Safi. India is WhatsApp's greatest market with greater than 200 million users and the company has confronted criticism from Indian authorities as mob lynchings were fueled via rumors spreading on the messaging service.

Carl Woog, head of communications for WhatsApp, stated Indian political events are abusing the platform because the country is determined to hold a typical election via might also, Reuters's Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra said. “we now have viewed a few parties try to use WhatsApp in ways in which it changed into now not supposed, and their enterprise message to them is that the use of it in that manner will outcome in bans of their carrier,” Woog mentioned.

as the Guardian pronounced, WhatsApp additionally pointed out it's the usage of computing device gaining knowledge of to identify money owed that appear to unfold messages in tremendous portions — the enterprise limits the number of message forwards to five in India and referred to remaining month that it is expanding the rule globally.

deepest CLOUD

The Apple brand is seen on a window at an Apple shop in Beijing on Jan. 7. (Kevin Frayer/Getty images)

— trade analysts say Apple's outlets have lost some of their shine as they lack features to encourage loyalty among patrons, The Washington put up's Hamza Shaban reported. Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, referred to product launches these days and events at the enterprise's shops were disappointing. “The remaining few years have basically been void of the strains around the save, sleeping on the save, anticipating the product,” Ives instructed my colleague. “a part of it's that clients have gotten used to the Apple keep — there is no longer the wow factor.”

an electrical scooter in Washington on Jan. three. (Salwan Georges/The Washington publish)

— About 1,500 americans within the u.s. have been injured in incidents involving electric scooters due to the fact that late 2017, in keeping with an investigation from purchaser reviews's Ryan Felton. doctors say they have treated severe injuries on account that electric powered scooters from companies similar to Lime and bird were deployed in cities throughout the nation. “We’ve had diverse concussions, nasal fractures, bilateral forearm fractures, and a few people have required surgical procedure,” Beth Rupp, medical director on the Indiana institution health middle in Bloomington, Ind., informed purchaser studies.

— Telecommunications businesses sold delicate client area guidance referred to as “assisted GPS” statistics to 3rd-party groups who in turn offered it to bounty hunters, Motherboard's Joseph Cox mentioned. Such assisted GPS or A-GPS facts is intended for use by means of first responders to find people who name 911 during emergencies. Motherboard also suggested that about 250 bounty hunters and other third-celebration agencies had entry to the place information of AT&T, T-cell and sprint customers.

— more expertise information from the private sector:

Uber is intensifying its pursuit of center East riders after retreating from different international markets in recent years, lured via the area’s exploding adolescence inhabitants.

The Wall road Journal

IBM Corp. has developed expertise to foretell and monitor when and where trees and vegetation threaten vigour lines which may help increase vigor provide operations and in the reduction of outages, it spoke of on Wednesday.


“we can listing a 5-2d video of your face. ... To proceed, permit entry to your webcam.”

BuzzFeed information


A security digital camera is set up on the aspect of a constructing in long island on July 31, 2013. (Mark Lennihan/AP) 

— a larger number of cities than up to now mentioned have experimented with the predictive policing application PredPol, which claims to use a desktop-studying algorithm to foretell and help prevent crime, in accordance with Motherboard's Caroline Haskins. The utility claims that it may predict the place crime is probably going to turn up in areas of 500 toes by way of 500 toes by using ancient crime statistics so that legislation enforcement can enhance patrols in certain locations. Motherboard acquired PredPol files from police departments in states including California, Utah, Georgia and Washington.

Shahid Buttar, director of grass-roots advocacy on the electronic Frontier foundation, warned about bias in predictive policing. Predictive policing is “driven by way of what looks to be goal historical records that itself displays longstanding and pervasive bias,” Buttar advised Haskins. 

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) on the 2016 Democratic national conference in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. (Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP pictures)

— Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) warned that the U.S. must not fall behind in the race to 5G as other countries including China are also making a push into the technology, the Hill's Cady Stanton reported. “it's going to put us at a disadvantage if they are late to the game,” Clarke referred to right through an event that changed into hosted by means of the Hill and backed by using Qualcomm. “Our groups are already form of leaders during this area, and if they allow different companies everywhere to hit that candy spot around 5G earlier than they do, think about what it might mean when it comes to the shrinking of their entry to the market.”

— more know-how news from the general public sector:

bounce, the e-bike and e-scooter business owned by Uber, acquired renewed hope Tuesday for its bid to join San Francisco’s scooter cohort, even though it didn’t show that its old rejection by way of the city was unfair.

San Francisco Chronicle

an immense tax break turned into speculated to create a producing paradise, but interviews with forty nine americans commonplace with the task depict a chaotic operation not likely to ever make use of 13,000 workers.

Bloomberg news

fast FWD

— information about tech personnel and tradition:

beginning startup says its independent ‘valued clientele’ will be allowed to retain their suggestions without losing pay.

The Wall road Journal

no person likes paying taxes, however new millionaires in California’s IPO gold rush need to give protection to their cash.


The enterprise quietly laid off staffers monitoring americans around the web to promote fb ads.

Bloomberg information


— Tech news producing buzz across the web:

e book canines, prosthetics and accessibility emojis welcomed by rights organizations

The Guardian

cyber web culture

A falsehood has been spreading in dark corners of the cyber web that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is useless. A Washington publish reporter noticed her Monday nighttime, nevertheless it wasn't enough to douse the flames of this thought.

Eli Rosenberg and Abby Ohlheiser


— Caryn Marooney, facebook's vp of communications, is leaving the enterprise, Wired's Issie Lapowsky pronounced.


a person appears at an iPhone eight Plus at an Apple save in Tokyo on Sept. 22, 2017.(Franck Robichon/EPA-EFE)

— Some hackers and scammers are taking half in an “underground business” that focuses on getting rid of the iCloud account of a user from their iPhone so that the equipment can be resold, Motherboard's Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler reported. If the iCloud account of a consumer whose iPhone become stolen remains on the gadget, that allows for the victim to remotely lock the phone and song it down by using the discover My iPhone function — and that's why resellers or thieves may additionally are seeking for to remove the iCloud account.

“In follow, ‘iCloud release’ because it’s regularly called, is a scheme that includes a complex provide chain of distinctive scams and cybercriminals,” Motherboard said. “These include the use of fake receipts and invoices to trick Apple into believing they’re the reputable owner of the telephone, using databases that look up assistance on iPhones, and social engineering at Apple outlets.” however, Motherboard additionally stated that “no longer all iCloud-locked phones are stolen gadgets.”

— greater news about tech incidents and blunders:

It’s a lose-lose circumstance for Google’s Nest

The Verge

BURN expense

— these days in funding information:

SoftBank has spent as a minimum half of its almost $100 billion imaginative and prescient Fund in less than two years, expanding the force to raise greater money if the world’s greatest tech investor desires to retain that pace.

The Wall highway Journal

Daniel Ek says he desires to spend up to $500 million on acquisitions this year.

Recode Inc. -- which makes an app that publications people through leisure exercises and encourages users to breathe -- has been valued at $1 billion in a funding circular led via TPG increase, the startup said on Wednesday.

Bloomberg news

On-demand electric powered scooter startup Lime announced that it has closed a $310 series D circular, which values the enterprise at $2.4 billion.




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    become Trump’s State of the Union handle bipartisan?

    AT&T blockchain effort contains IBM, Microsoft | Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

    AT&T has delivered consulting and cyber web of issues services for dealers, producers and healthcare organizations...

    the usage of IBM's and Microsoft's cloud-based mostly blockchain know-how.

    The viable use instances for the multivendor services include asset administration and statistics sharing inside a give chain. For the latter, blockchain would replace traditional SSL/TLS certificates-based mostly cryptography fashions, which have several vulnerabilities.

    Proponents declare blockchain is a securer option because it facts information via a dispensed database ledger held through all individuals in a transaction. No birthday party could make adjustments to the ledger with out the abilities or approval through the other parties.

    IBM and Microsoft are each making an attempt to construct a business round blockchain as a carrier, and the recent AT&T blockchain announcement indicates the provider is able to join their effort.

    AT&T blockchain with IBM

    AT&T has built-in its Asset management Operations middle with IBM's Maximo network on Blockchain and Maximo Asset fitness Insights. Asset management Operations middle is an online centralized console for tracking and monitoring device and other IoT instruments.

    The IBM blockchain service lets businesses securely share data with people or corporations through a digital ledger. The ledger's creator determines who can entry it and the forms of transactions each and every participant can perform.

    IBM's blockchain technology is purchasable for Maximo Asset health Insights, which tracks the situation of company device. The monitoring helps keep away from downtime with the aid of signaling when to operate renovation earlier than a breakdown.

     AT&T blockchain with Microsoft

    With Microsoft, AT&T is integrating its IoT platform with Microsoft's Azure-primarily based blockchain technology. obtainable capabilities for IoT instruments include monitoring, management and network connectivity.

    Microsoft provides tools for know-how and safety groups that wish to are trying blockchain in the cloud. The equipment let developers construct provide chain-related blockchain functions using typical Microsoft construction libraries.

    IBM and Microsoft are only two of a becoming variety of companies -- new and centered -- constructing blockchain functions and equipment. as an instance, startup Guardtime provides at ease provide chain connectivity via blockchain and longtime business utility supplier SAP offers the technology as a service in its SaaS cloud.

    worldwide spending on blockchain technology will raise at an annual cost of 73%, reaching $eleven.7 billion in 2022 from $1.5 billion this 12 months, based on IDC. The analyst firm expects the financial industry to spend probably the most this 12 months, adopted by the retail and skilled services industries and manufacturing.

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    International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) Q2 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript | real questions and Pass4sure dumps

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    International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM)Q2 2018 Earnings Conference CallJuly 18, 2018, 5:00 p.m. ET

    Welcome, and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. Now I will turn the meeting over to Ms. Patricia Murphy with IBM. Ma'am, you may begin.

    Thank you. This is Patricia Murphy, Vice President of Investor Relations for IBM, and I'd like to welcome you to their second quarter earnings presentation. I'm here today with Jim Kavanaugh, IBM's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

    Our prepared remarks will be available within a couple of hours, and a replay of the webcast will be posted by this time tomorrow.

    I'll also remind you that certain comments made in this presentation may be characterized as forward looking under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially. Additional information concerning these factors is contained in the company's filings with the SEC. Copies are available from the SEC, from the IBM web site, or from us in Investor Relations.

    Our presentation also includes certain non-GAAP financial measures, in an effort to provide additional information to investors. All non-GAAP measures have been reconciled to their related GAAP measures in accordance with SEC rules. You will find reconciliation charts at the end of the presentation, and in the Form 8-K submitted to the SEC.

    So, with that, I'll turn the call over to Jim.

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Thanks Patricia, and thanks to all of you for joining us.

    In the second quarter, they delivered $20 billion of revenue, $3.4 billion of operating pre-tax income, and $3.08 of operating earnings per share. Overall, it was a good quarter. They grew revenue, operating gross profit, pre-tax income, and earnings per share, with strong pre-tax margin performance. Their revenue was up 4% as reported, with growth in all four of their major segments, and their constant currency revenue growth was 2%. This is their best constant currency growth in 7 years. And their pre-tax income was up 11%, reflecting good operating leverage on net revenue growth.

    Looking at their performance at constant currency, the revenue trajectory improved in both services segments, and both returned to modest growth. This is important to their overall revenue growth profile, as services represents about 60% of their revenue on an annual basis.

    In Cognitive, they had good performance in analytics, and in their industry verticals driven by financial services and IoT. Growth was mitigated by the same three areas I told you about on their last call, as they continue to focus on repositioning these offerings. And they had strong performance and gained share in their Systems business, which was up over 20% with growth across all three hardware platforms.

    Across their segments, they had continued momentum in their strategic imperatives revenue. Over the last twelve months, their strategic imperatives revenue has grown to $39 billion, which represents 48% of IBM's revenue. And within that, cloud is now $18.5 billion.

    Our strategic imperatives revenue in the quarter was up 15%, and accelerated to 13% at constant currency. Revenue performance this quarter was led by Security and Cloud. Security was up about 80% this quarter, driven by strong demand for the pervasive encryption of IBM Z and growth in their integrated software and services business.

    Cloud revenue was up 20%, or 18% at constant currency, driven by their as-a-service offerings. We're exiting the second quarter with an as-a-service annual run rate of over $11 billion, which is up about 25%. This reflects their success in helping enterprise clients with their journey to the cloud and we're becoming the destination for mission-critical workloads in hybrid environments. We're capturing this high-value growth with their unique differentiation of innovative technology combined with deep industry expertise, underpinned with trust and security all through their integrated model.

    You saw that this quarter in a long-term partnership with the Australian government valued at about $740 million to automate and digitize government services, leveraging IBM's systems, software and cloud-based solutions. They expanded their work at Crédit Mutuel, who is using the IBM Cloud, security, IBM Z, and Watson to drive its next wave of transformation across its business lines. They delivered the world's most powerful supercomputer to the U.S. Department of Energy. They had competitive cloud wins at leading companies like ExxonMobil, Amtrak, and Telefónica de España.

    We signed a deal with Anthem, where we'll help them drive their digital transformation to deliver an enhanced digital experience for millions of health plan consumers. And in total, they signed 13 services deals over $100 million this quarter. These are just a few of the new client engagements that will play out over the coming quarters and years, and putting this together with their first half performance, they continue to expect to deliver at least $13.80 of operating earnings per share for the year.

    Before getting into the detailed financial metrics, I want to provide a perspective on the drivers of their operating earnings-per-share growth for the quarter. What it shows is they delivered 5% growth, despite a significant tax headwind. So, let me break it down.

    Our 4% revenue growth contributed $0.10 of earnings-per-share growth at constant margin. They realized good pre-tax operating leverage on that revenue growth, with 11% growth in pre-tax income, and they expanded their pre-tax margin by 110 basis points. About two-thirds of that pre-tax income growth came from gross profit dollars, which were up 2%, driven by profit growth in Global Business Services and Systems.

    Gross margin was down 60 basis points year-to-year. About half was due to mix and half from the continued investments we've been making to build out their IBM Cloud. Productivity was fairly neutral to the year-to-year gross margin dynamics in the quarter, and as they discussed last quarter, the benefit from actions they took earlier in the year will ramp up in the second half. The remaining third of the pre-tax income growth came from efficiencies we've been driving in their expense structure. And then, as I said, tax was a significant headwind, driven primarily by a discrete tax benefit last year.

    Finally, a lower share count contributed to growth. Putting it all together, they delivered the 5% growth, with good contribution from revenue, pre-tax margin expansion, and to a lesser extent, share repurchases.

    Looking at their key financial metrics, as I said, revenue is up 4%. Currency contributed 2 points, which is about half the contribution based on the spot rates at the time of their first quarter earnings call. And I'll remind you, the significant volatility in currencies has implications across the income statement, not just revenue.

    Constant currency revenue was up 2%, which is essentially all organic. I'll talk to revenue on a constant currency basis going forward. Their revenue growth was broad based across geographies and sectors. They had growth in more than 60 countries, representing over 80% of IBM's revenue. EMEA growth accelerated to 4$, led by Germany, the U.K., France and Spain, with pervasive growth across business areas.

    Looking at their operating pre-tax income growth of 11%, I said that about one-third of that was from operating expense, which was better by 2%. This includes a 2-point impact from currency, which is significantly less than the first quarter impact due to the dollar strengthening. And so their base expense was better by 4%.

    As they continue to invest to build their innovation pipeline in areas like AI, and security and blockchain, we're also realizing acquisition synergies and driving operational efficiencies by streamlining their management system, scaling Agile, and implementing new ways of working. I talked about some of these in their webcast back in March, and we're seeing the benefit not only in improved speed and responsiveness, but also in a more efficient structure.

    Within expense, they also absorbed a lower level of IP income which was down $115 million year-to-year in the quarter, and about $240 million in the first half. Their operating tax rate of 16% was up nearly 7 points, with just over a point from the underlying rate, and the balance from last year's discrete tax benefits of $170 million.

    Looking at the cash metrics, they generated $1.9 billion of free cash flow in the quarter, and $3.2 billion in the first half, which is down $400 million year-to-year. Their solid working capital performance was more than offset by a cash tax headwind and growth in capital investment, consistent with what they discussed earlier in the year. Remember, there's a lot of seasonality in their cash generation, and over the last 12 months we've generated $12.6 billion, that's 111% of GAAP net income.

    Now, turning to their segments. Cognitive Solutions had $4.6 billion of revenue, which was down 1% at constant currency. They had continued growth in their as-a-service revenue, exiting the quarter with an annualized run rate of $2 billion. Within Solution software, we're scaling new platforms and solutions, with growth in several key areas. I'll name a few.

    Growth in their underlying analytics platform was led by the DB2 portfolio, their data science offerings, and their new IBM Cloud Private for Data offering, which makes data ready for AI across all clouds.

    In their Watson platform, the AI platform for business, growth reflects strong demand for their new virtual assistant offering with triple-digit growth in their conversation service usage. Clients using Watson Assistant include Bradesco, Orange Bank, Autodesk, Royal Bank of Scotland, Vodafone, and LivePerson, to name a few. Watson is both a platform on its own and a driver of growth and differentiation in several of their industry verticals.

    Our industry verticals continue to scale, led by IoT and Watson for Financial Services. IoT growth was driven by Maximo, which is the No. 1 asset management solution, and Tririga, the No. 1 facilities management solution. Financial Services reflects strong performance in their Risk and Regulatory business and Financial Crimes portfolio, leveraging their Promontory skills and AI technologies. In Watson Health, they had good performance in areas like Payer and Life Sciences. And in emerging areas like blockchain, we've now seeded the market with over 60 active blockchain networks.

    This quarter they launched with 9 large banks, including Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC and Natixis. This is the first live blockchain-based, bank-to-bank trading platform. Growth in these areas is offset by a transition in some areas I talked about in April, specifically talent, collaboration and commerce, which today are a combination of on-prem and SaaS offerings. They are modernizing their offerings and making investments to address the secular shifts in the market. Keep in mind, the time to value of these investments is longer in SaaS.

    Our Transaction Processing Software was down 2%, driven by declines in storage software. Within TPS, they had growth in IBM Z middleware and Power middleware. Looking at profit this quarter, they grew pre-tax income 9% and expanded pre-tax margin by over 2 points year-to-year, driven by operational efficiencies and acquisition synergies, while continuing to invest at high levels in key strategic areas such as AI, Security and blockchain.

    Before getting into Global Business Services, let me give you a perspective on their total services business, across the two segments. They continue to make good progress. Their services signings grew, the year-to-year services backlog trajectory improved from last quarter, services revenue returned to growth, and they had a modest improvement in the year-to-year services gross margin trajectory.

    Our signings were up 6%, and within that, they had 13 deals over $100 million. So, we're clearly winning in a competitive environment. We're addressing the fundamental shifts in the industry, like helping clients implement hybrid cloud, and managed security services. This is driving a shift in their backlog content, with nearly 30% of their outsourcing backlog now in Cloud. And then looking at the services gross margin, it was down just 25 basis points year-to-year. I'll remind you again that they have most of the benefits from the first quarter productivity actions still ahead of us.

    So now let's get into the two segments. Global Business Services returned to modest revenue growth, increased gross profit dollars, and expanded gross margin. We're realizing the improved revenue trajectory from the run-out of their opening backlog for the year. Their Strategic Imperatives revenue grew 6% with strong performance in the as-a-service offerings, which were up 25%.

    We have talked about how they have realigned their practice model around three growth platforms -- Digital Transformation, Cloud Application and Cognitive Processes. While all are progressing, they have particular strength in Digital, which again grew strong double digits. This was driven by Digital Business Strategy and by their mobile offerings.

    Across these platforms, Consulting revenue growth accelerated to 4% year-to-year, led by their offerings in Digital and Cloud. Their GBS Consulting practice brings business expertise together with technology expertise to unlock value for their clients. For example, this quarter, IBM Digital and Mediaocean launched a blockchain consortium comprised of leading advertisers and publishers, including Kellogg, Unilever, Kimberly Clark, and Pfizer, to set the new industry standard for the digital ad-buying ecosystem.

    We're continuing to invest, recently announcing the acquisition of Oniqua Holdings, which adds technology and professional expertise in asset optimization. This strengthens their integrated IoT platform across Cognitive Solutions and GBS.

    Application Management Services revenue was down 3%, reflecting continued declines in traditional Enterprise Application managed services. We're growing in strategic offerings like Cloud Migration Factory and Cloud Application Development. The increased demand in these areas has led to two consecutive quarters of double-digit signings growth in Application Management.

    Turning to gross profit, GBS' gross margin grew 130 basis points year to year. They have done a lot of work to transform their portfolio and reposition their offerings to capture improved price for value, and they are also starting to see early contributions from their productivity actions around labor models and structure.

    In summary, GBS delivered a solid quarter and they are starting to see the realization of their initiatives in their results.

    In Technology Services and Cloud Platforms, revenue returned to growth. Similar to GBS, this performance was driven primarily by their improved opening backlog run-out dynamics. The strategic imperatives revenue in the segment grew 24%. This was led by Cloud, which grew 27% and their as-a-service revenue grew 30%, which is up about 6 points sequentially and is now at an annualized run rate of $7.6 billion.

    Infrastructure Services revenue growth improved to 1% this quarter, as they continue to help clients on their journey to cloud. The IBM Cloud enables clients to migrate, modernize and build new cloud apps, is AI-ready, and secure to the core. This quarter they completed the migration of Westpac's core banking applications to the IBM Cloud. It's just one example of how we're becoming the go-to destination for mission-critical workloads on the cloud.

    We're continuing to build capabilities, recently announcing an expansion to 18 availability zones for the IBM Cloud across the world. The expanded global footprint is important as clients look to maintain control of their data as they implement hybrid, especially given the increased data regulations.

    In Technical Support Services, revenue was down 4%. As is always the case with a Z launch, we're seeing a short-term impact in their maintenance stream, as IBM Z sales move clients from maintenance to warranty for the first year. The impact to maintenance is becoming more pronounced now, with the higher adoption rates by existing clients in the strong current Z cycle. This impact was moderated by continued growth in their multi-vendor support offerings.

    Integration Software grew 1%. They had good performance in offerings that modernize applications and enable cloud adoption. This includes offerings like IBM Cloud Private, which helps clients to develop cloud native applications behind their firewall. We've added 100 new clients in the second quarter, and now have over 300 clients since the product was announced at the end of last year.

    Turning to gross profit, margin for the segment was down a point from last year. The majority of this decline was driven by the revenue mix away from higher margin TSS in the quarter, with the remainder driven by the continued scale out of their Cloud. They did have some productivity benefits, but as I said earlier, the actions they took in the first quarter will yield predominantly in the back half of the year.

    In Systems, they grew revenue again, as they continue to deliver innovative technologies that address today's most contemporary workloads. All three brands, IBM Z, Power, and Storage grew, and they gained share overall. In the second quarter, IBM Z grew revenues by 112% year-to-year on nearly 200% MIPs growth, again driven by new workload MIPs. The Z14 adoption remained broad-based, and after four quarters, continues to track ahead of the prior program. The value prop benefits existing IBM Z clients who are growing and expanding workloads on Z14 this quarter, whether it's eCommerce sales, mobile banking volumes, machine learning, or emerging blockchain services. And we're adding new clients from all corners of the globe, from a managed care provider in the U.S., to a university in Canada, to an electronics distributor in Italy, to a bank in Africa. They also had good acceptance of their new single-frame Z14 designed specifically for cloud environments, which launched earlier in the quarter.

    Power revenue was up 4% driven by adoption of their new POWER9 entry level portfolio, and continued growth in Linux. These cloud-ready systems provide leadership capabilities in advanced analytics, cloud environments and data intensive workloads in AI, HANA, and UNIX markets. They continued to roll-out their supercomputers at the U.S. Department of Energy labs. As a part of their deployment, the U.S. government recently unveiled POWER9-based Summit, the world's most powerful supercomputer, which is ranked No. 1 in the TOP 500 list of commercially available computers. This is the first time in over 5 years that a U.S. company topped the list.

    Storage hardware returned to growth this quarter, after facing some sales execution challenges in a competitive market last quarter. This growth was broad-based geographically, and led by strong growth in All Flash Arrays. Flash grew double digits across the portfolio, and took share. They are coming out with new offerings, including a new mid-range FlashSystem announced last week, with industry-leading performance technology.

    Turning to profit, Systems pre-tax income was up about $275 million year to year, and pre-tax margin was up over 10 points, so solid performance.

    Moving on to cash flow and the balance sheet, in the second quarter they generated $2.9 billion of cash from operations excluding their financing receivables, and $1.9 billion of free cash flow. And, so, in the first half, they generated $3.2 billion of free cash flow, which is down $400 million from last year. This reflects solid working capital performance, offset by a $300 million increase in capex as they build out global cloud data centers, and $700 million more of cash tax payments. We've now got the entire cash tax headwind that they expect for the year behind us.

    Looking at uses of cash for the half, we've returned $4.6 billion to their shareholders. In April, they again raised their dividend, and with that we've now tripled their dividend per share over the last decade. In the first half, they bought back nearly 12 million shares, ending June with 913 million shares outstanding and $2 billion remaining in their buyback authorization.

    Looking at the balance sheet highlights, their cash and total debt levels are pretty consistent with last June. About two-thirds of their debt supports their financing business, which is leveraged at 9 to 1, and the majority of their financing receivables, 54%, are at investment grade, which is 2 points better than this time last year. So, their balance sheet remains strong, with plenty of flexibility to support their investments and shareholder returns over the longer term.

    In summary, their performance this quarter underscores the extent to which they have repositioned their business over the last several years. As I said, nearly half of their revenue is aligned to the strategic imperatives, which represent the emerging, high-value, high-growth segments in their industry. This also reflects a major portfolio shift for IBM, driven, as they discussed at their investor webcast in March, by major shifts in their capital allocation and investment strategy.

    Those shifts reflect their vision of what clients would value in a rapidly reordering IT industry, driven by Cloud, Data, and AI. And that is innovative technology in key emerging areas, the expertise to apply that technology in industry-specific processes and workflows, and a commitment that their enterprise data would be handled responsibly. This is IBM's differentiation, and we're seeing it come through in their revenue and profit performance.

    This quarter, they delivered 2% constant currency revenue growth, 11% operating pre-tax income growth, and 5% earnings-per-share growth, capping off a first half where they also grew revenue, operating profit, and earnings per share.

    As always, they have some tailwinds and headwinds as they move into the second half, but with this performance, and their continued focus on driving consistent operational execution, they continue to expect to deliver at least $13.80 of operating earnings per share, and free cash flow in the range of $12 billion.

    And with that, let me turn it back to Patricia for mp;A.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thank you, Jim. Before they begin the mp;A, I'd like to mention a couple of items. First, they have supplemental charts at the end of the slide deck that provide additional information on the quarter. And second, as always, I'd ask you to refrain from multi-part questions.

    So, operator, let's please open it up for questions.

    Questions and Answers:


    Thank you. They will now begin the question-and-answer session of today's conference. If you would like to ask a question, please press * followed by the number 1. Their first question comes from Wamsi Mohan from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Please go ahead.

    Wamsi Mohan -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

    Yes, thank you. Jim, you saw some constant currency deceleration in Cognitive revenues but PTI margins improved nicely. You alluded to a few factors in there. I was wondering if you could provide some more granularity on the drivers of that PTI margin expansion between the operational efficiencies, the acquisition synergies that you alluded to [inaudible] investments, and second, your base expanse decline was quite significant in the quarter. Can you talk about the trajectory of that in the second half, especially given some of the cost actions that you said are yet to be reflected? The cost actions that you took in 1Q that have yet to be reflected in the back half. Thank you.

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Sure, Wamsi. Thank you very much for the question. Let me address the Cognitive Solutions segment first and talk about constant currency and then get to the operating leverage component. Then I'll address your expense question next. Cognitive Solutions, first of all, as you all know, their financial model for the Cognitive Solutions segment is to deliver growth and also deliver operating leverage consistent with that growth. What we've been seeing over the last couple quarters as we've been driving the acquisition integration synergies across their business, we've been seeing that operating leverage well in advance of their actual revenue growth within that segment.

    We've also been driving operational efficiencies and synergies around redefining how they do work, redefining development optimization, applying Agile methodologies, and getting better speed, responsiveness, cycle time, and throughput and output within their organization. So, we're getting more value for dollar of spend overall. You see that play out in operating leverage in that segment in the first quarter and you've seen it play out in the second quarter, with strong profit growth of 9% on that constant currency revenue growth. So, they continue to expect that they move forward and we'll continue to leverage and get value out of that business overall.

    In terms of expense dynamics, you heard in the prepared remarks their operating expense was better by 2%. But there are many different components within that operating expense 2% better. First and foremost, currency had impacted their operating expense by 2 points. I will tell you that was about half of the impact or even a little bit less than half the impact than they expected 90 days ago, just given the volatility of what's been happening in the FX markets, in particular around the U.S. dollar appreciation.

    So, the last couple quarters, currency is impacted by expense by 4 to 5 points. Now, it was only a 2-point impact. So, their base productivity was about 4% better. That is being driven, as they continue to drive the operating leverage through their enterprise productivity initiatives around reinventing IBM and how they actually do work. Changing their management system, addressing their structure, attacking cost and complexity, aligning decision rights, and driving accountability.

    So, that 4% is a base level of productivity that we're driving and they expect that going forward. Then I'll just add one other point. That is on IP income. You see through the second quarter their IP income was down by over $100 million, $115 million, I think to be exact. Through the first half, it's down nearly $250 million overall. So, they continue to leverage and monetize the value of their research and development spending, and they continue to invest in those areas and we'll opportunistically optimize that through many monetization models, but IP right now is down $115 million. When you bring all that together, it's delivering substantial operating leverage to their business, as you see here in the second quarter.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thanks, Wamsi. Can they go to the next question, please, Anne?


    Thank you. The next question comes from Steve Milunovich of UBS. Your line is now open.

    Steven Milunovich -- UBS Securities -- Analyst

    Thank you very much. A fair amount of your growth in revenue and even pre-tax profit came from the hardware area. What are you expecting in second half mainframe compares? Are they going to be down year-over-year in the third and then down pretty severely in the fourth? And then just to follow up on your currency comments, I assume you're losing about $2 billion of revenue in the second half relative to what you expected back in April. Have you taken actions to compensate for that to get to your $13.80, to get to your $12 billion of free cash flow?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Thank you, Steve. Many questions there. Let me take each one individually. First of all, yes, they had a very strong systems quarter overall. Both on revenue and on operating leverage, where they grew pre-tax income over 10 points year-over-year. But let's put the quarter in perspective. They delivered 4% revenue overall, 2% at constant currency. It was their strongest constant currency revenue growth rate in over 7 years. It was led by their continued acceleration and their strategic imperatives, which were up 15% at actual, 13% at constant currency. That was an acceleration from the first quarter and within that, their cloud business, $18.5 billion, up 23%.

    Our adds to service annualized run rate now over $11 billion. That's up 24%. Their services businesses returned back to growth at constant currency. Both GBS, which had a great quarter, and TS and CP. But even if you take their systems business into your question around mainframe, and if they take mainframe out, you would see those same dynamics in the quarter-to-quarter acceleration of their strategic imperative business and as you all know, in their adds to service acceleration of over $11 billion, growing 24%, that doesn't have any systems business within it.

    The last point I'll bring up around top line and then I'll get to your other questions, they had broad-based geographic and sector growth across their business. Probably the best breadth and growth across the number of countries that we've had in quite a period of time. 60+ countries grew at constant currency and that represented over 80% of IBM's revenue.

    If you extract out the mainframe cycle, they still had over 60 countries that actually grew. Those are large countries like Japan, like U.K., like Germany, France, Spain, Australia. Many which are not mainframe dominant. So, they see continued momentum. Now, with regards to mainframe. I'm not going to apologize. This is the most enduring platform that you've seen out there and they continue to capitalize on gaining new, emerging workloads onto that platform.

    We delivered substantial growth in the second quarter, over 100% growth. They tripled their installed MIPs inventory that they ship. We're capturing over 60% of that MIP ship is in specialty workloads. So, through the first four quarters -- now is the pertinent time to have the discussion -- through the first four quarters, they are well in advance of what the prior cycle was.

    With regards to your question about second half, I would expect that to continue in the second half as they move forward. They know in the fourth quarter that we've got a tremendous compare and I talked about that 90 days ago. They will have an impact, but we've got momentum in their services businesses returning the growth and, as you know, that's 60% of their business overall.

    Now, with regards to currency. I'm glad you brought that up. We've seen dramatic volatility over the last 90 days since their last earnings call. To put it in perspective, they had stated here 90 days ago that they expected about a 4-point tailwind in the second quarter coming off of a 5-patient tailwind in the first quarter and you see that only ended up being a little bit over 2 points of a tailwind in the second quarter, as the U.S. dollar appreciated significantly against most currencies.

    Now, when they look at the second half, they see about a 1 to 2-point headwind. Currency will flip. That's about somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion, including second quarter's $400 million that I talked about. Now, with that said, currency, you understand the top line dynamic of revenue. But currency also impacts margins, and they impact expense. From a margin perspective, if you look at, we've got two different businesses. We've got product-based businesses and we've got services-based businesses. On product-based businesses, you don't have a direct alignment of your sources of revenue and your sources of cost. So, that translation revenue impact that you see in their product-based businesses, the hardware, software, and services, you will see a gross margin impact on that at the GP line.

    Services where you have a much more alignment of source of revenue and cost, you have basically a natural hedge. You won't see a gross profit impact on that revenue translation. But as you all know, they drive a hedging program to mitigate the foreign exchange volatility at a profit level. Why? Because it gives us time to adjust their pricing terms, their structure, and their sourcing strategies. So, at a PTI level, you see a very de minimis impact in period. Hedging doesn't eliminate, it only defers it. But at a profit level, it's a very de minimis impact, but it impacts the P&L differently as they move forward.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Okay, Steve. Let's go to the next question, please.


    The next question comes from Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley. Your line is now open.

    Katy Huberty -- Morgan Stanley -- Managing Director of Research

    Thank you. Good afternoon. Jim, as was mentioned in an earlier question, investors are certainly worried about the tougher comps in the back half of this year and the 2% growth was a nice surprise this quarter, but you're not quite at consistent and meaningful growth across the businesses. And so my question is whether you and the rest of the management team would consider stepping up either M&A or divestitures to more meaningfully remix revenue and set the company on a path and a narrative around much more meaningful and sustainable growth?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Katy, thanks for the question overall. As you stated, they delivered a very solid quarter at 2% constant currency. I would tell you it's their third straight quarter of growth overall with an acceleration in terms of breadth and depth across geographies, across sectors, and across countries around the world.

    But let's take a look at their portfolio. First and foremost, they are very confident in the portfolio lineup that they have here today around each of their segments. They talked about, at their investor day, the value differentiation of IBM. That value differentiation is built around innovative technology, around deep industry expertise, and around trust and security. All delivered through an integrated model.

    If you take a look at it, they talked about the key value differentiators as they move forward. The value of bringing that together, I think you're seeing substantiated now here in the second quarter, with very strong growth overall in their systems platform, in the importance they play to their infrastructure, in their integrated model. You see their services base of businesses continue that trajectory improvement that they talked about starting in January of this year. They improved in the first quarter and now we've got both businesses back to growth and they delivered double-digit signings at actual rates in the first half, which positions us well as they move forward.

    But you know their motto overall, we've done a lot of work around remixing their capital and investments to build out the portfolio that they have today. We're very disciplined in their capital allocation strategy. They said 70% to 80% of that capital and investment is going to go back to their shareholders in the form of share buy-back and dividend and you saw us raise their dividend here in April this year. Their 23rd straight year. But the remainder is for us to use internally to build out their differentiated capability around investments in R&D and capital to drive leadership in AI, leadership in blockchain, leadership in security, and leadership now in quantum as they move forward.

    But acquisitions are an integral part. We're going to continue to evaluate their portfolio and how they capitalize the value of those acquisitions in light of the integrated, differentiated strategy of the IBM company going forward.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thank you, Katy. Let's go to the next question, please.


    Our next question is from Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein. Your line is now open.

    Toni Sacconaghi -- Bernstein -- Analyst

    Yes, thank you. I'm wondering if you could comment a little bit more about the dynamics affecting Cognitive Solutions' revenue growth. It was down at constant currency versus a pretty easy comparison. It's the business that has the highest percentage of strategic initiatives in it, so it's obviously very important for you. Can you maybe comment specifically on what's happening with Watson Health? There were lots of press reports about the significant retrenchment in that business.

    And I know you said the acquisitions take time, but you've had them all for at least a year. And so maybe you can comment on why you think they haven't seen better revenue progress or what specifically happened this quarter.

    Then very quickly, if you could just confirm, you talked about flattish gross margins for the year. You're down in each of the first two quarters year-over-year, so should they be expecting gross margins to be up about 50 basis points year-over-year in the second half to hit that bogey of flattish?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    All right, Toni. There's a lot to be compacted in a multiple-part question. But let me try to address each piece. We'll start with Cognitive. In terms of their Cognitive Solutions, they have a strong portfolio in the key strategic areas around analytics, around industry verticals, around security and around IoT and they continue to see good performance overall. But I'll remind you, this portfolio is a high annuity content. Over 80% of the business is annuity, with strong renewal rates. They continue to drive but that SaaS has a longer time to value, a longer time to realization.

    But let me unpack the segment because you've got to understand the piece parts, because they each fit different purposes within the overarching IBM strategy in purpose. One is around TPS. TPS declined 2% overall and it's about what they would expect in this area. You've even commented on this the last couple quarters. We've been riding the wave of the mainframe product cycle over the last three quarters and saw pretty good growth that was unusual. Now, we're back to down 2%. This is high-value, high-profit, strategically important to their clients overall, but it's in stable to declining businesses and it wasn't unexpected.

    When you look at their software solution portfolio, we've got growth in analytics as they revamp that portfolio coming off of a pretty disappointing fourth quarter. They grew in first quarter, they great again in second, and they got good, double-digit growth in their industry verticals like financial services and IoT and we're seeing good growth in Watson Health. We've got growth in Life Sciences segment, Imaging, Payer, and we're seeing good SaaS signings in their Government segments within that business.

    Yes, they are driving acquisition synergies and you're seeing that play out. It's well in advance of a year. And you're seeing net operating leverage play out well in advance of their financial model around Cognitive Solutions. So, transaction processing software pretty much as expected, high-value based markets, software solutions, the key strategic areas that they have are growing. The focus that we've got, and they talked about this 90 days ago, are in three key segments around talent, around collaboration, and around commerce, where they are investing to modernize their portfolio to address the secular shifts that are happening in both client value and in consumption models.

    As you know, this business today in these three segments are both a mixture of on-prem and SaaS. They are investing aggressively to revitalize this portfolio into a SaaS world around driving user interface improvements to make their offerings more digitally consumable, and also about shifting and investing to embed AI to deliver differentiated value for their clients overall. So, that's Cognitive Solutions.

    Now, you asked about gross profit margins. So, let me take a step back and give you my perspective. Now that I've been on the job six months as CFO of IBM and I've spent a lot of time with their investors and also with many of you, the sell-side analysts, listening and also getting a perspective of their company, the sentiment, and the strategic positioning and what you would like to see. In each of those inevitably, the discussion around margin comes up. Why? Because yes, they are a value-based stock. Their investment thesis is around value. Value driving profit growth at the end of the day that gives us the free cash flow flexibility to continue to return value to their shareholders and invest in their business.

    But the discussion around gross profit margins always inevitably get at Services. Is Services deflationary and can you grow Services margins? I would tell you I think that's at the heart of your question around gross profit. I'll answer it in a couple ways. One, talking about their financial model, and two, talking about how they manage the business. But before I get into that, first and foremost, the net answer is as I stated 90 days ago, they expect their Services gross margin to expand in the second half and they still feel confident coming off of the trajectory improvement of what they saw in the second quarter really led by strong margin expansion in their GBS business and the productivity actions they have in front of us.

    But when you look at this from an overall IBM perspective, their financial model, as they talked about, is low single-digit revenue growth, mid single-digit profit growth, and high single-digit EPS growth. In 2Q, you saw the instantiation of delivering that model. They grew revenue. They had PTI margin expansion of 110 basis points; the strongest we've had in years. And they drove operating leverage to deliver 11% profit growth, well in excess of their model.

    So, for a full-year perspective, their view at an operating level in terms of profit growth has not changed. We're going to grow profit, we're going to grow PTI margins, and that supports their full-year guidance.

    Now, let's talk about how they manage the business. Because I think it's important for their investors and it's important for each of you as analysts to understand this. No. 1, they got two distinct, different business models in their company. They got a product-based business model and they got a services-based business model. In a product-based business model, hardware, software and solutions, value is instantiated in delivering returns at a PTI level. Why? Because all the investment they make in a product-based business ends up below the gross profit margin line. And you see in their product-based business systems and Cognitive Solutions, we're growing substantial operating leverage and we're growing substantial return on investment.

    Now, in services, as I said 90 days ago, in a human capital-based business, value is instantiated in gross profit margins. They manage their services business to get a return on their human capital at the gross profit level. As I said, as a gross profit level in services, they still expect to expand margins in the second half. The only thing that has changed in the last 90 days has been the extreme volatility in the FX world around the U.S. dollar appreciation. As I stated earlier, they have a hedging policy that mitigates the volatility of currency inter-IME at a profit level, but it does impact gross margins, in particular at a product level in their product-based businesses. It does not impact profit in the near-term. It allows you time to then go adjust your pricing terms, your cost structure, and your sourcing strategies as they move forward.

    So, that's the only thing that's changed in the last 90 days. They feel confident we're going to grow revenue for the year at current spot rates, even in light of currency flipping to a headwind in the second half. They feel confident we're going to expand pre-tax margins similar to what they did in the second half. Within that, they feel confident we're actually going to deliver services gross profit margin expansion in the second half of the year.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thanks, Toni. Ann, can they please take the next question?


    The next question comes from the line of Tien Tsin Huang of J.P. Morgan. Your line is now open.

    Tien Tsin Huang -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

    Thanks so much. Yeah, so consulting accelerated, which is encouraging. I'm curious, is that starting to pull in some other services revenue around it or behind it? I saw or you mentioned the [inaudible] were good again. So again, was it enough to drive positive effects mutual revenue growth in services for the second half? I'm just trying to piece all of those things together and think about [inaudible] revenue growth for services overall in the second half.

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Yeah, if you take a look at GBS in second quarter, first of all, we're very pleased with their performance. The work that Mark and the team have done tirelessly to transform their structure, their business models, their growth platforms, the set of initiatives around productivity, we're very pleased. You saw that play out in continued trajectory improvement throughout the first half, returning to modest revenue growth and significant operating leverage and margin expansion, which they expect will be a big contributor in their second half services margin expansion that they talked about in the last question.

    Now, with that said, if you look at that acceleration and what's been happening in the trajectory of their services business, first, as you all understand the dynamics of that business, you have to get signings that have to yield into backlog, which has to yield into revenue as they move forward. We're seeing tremendous momentum in their consulting base of business. They delivered 4% revenue growth as you stated in the second quarter, and that's leveraging momentum around how they redesign their growth platforms and how they resign their service lines and offerings and practices. We're capturing higher value. Value around digital transformation offerings that enable clients to move their journey to the cloud as they move forward. We're doing great in their CRM practice, their workday practice, and we're also capturing new emerging areas like blockchain, where we're seeing good growth in their services base of business.

    As you know and they talked about extensively at their investor webcast in the beginning of the year, GBS has a very integral part in an integrated model strategy in the IBM company. They have the mission of bringing business and technology transformation together. So, the long answer to your question around is consulting in GBS a key leading indicator of dragging the rest of IBM? The answer is definitely yes.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thanks, Tien Tsin. Can they please take the next question?


    The next question comes from Jim Schneider of Goldman Sachs. Your line is now open.

    Jim Schneider -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

    Good afternoon. Thanks for taking my question. I was wondering if you could maybe follow up on that prior question and talk about the ability of the tech services and cloud platform segment to start to return a growth in the back half. Clearly, we're starting to get a little bit better signings performance, but I'm wondering if that's a realistic expectation for that segment and whether you can achieve it at the same time as you're expanding margins there?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Sure, Jim. Good to talk to you again. Thanks for the question. Yes, on TS and CP, similar to their discussion around GBS, we're pleased with the trajectory improvement and the progress that we've been making within this business on the top line throughout the first half. They made sequential progress quarter-to-quarter. They have now returned to growth, delivering $8.6 billion of revenue.

    Let's talk about a couple of the key components. First, they are capitalizing on tremendous momentum around enterprise hybrid cloud strategy. They are becoming the destination of moving and enabling their clients' journey to the cloud. Their GBS business is an instrumental part of that strategy as they move forward. So, we've got a lot of momentum in their enterprise hybrid cloud. That, as you see, is delivering an as-a-service annualized run rate of $7.6 billion. That's up 30% year-to-year. That has tremendous value as they move forward to continue getting scale efficiencies and the like.

    But let's talk about then the core GBS business overall. If infrastructure services return to growth, 1% in the growth, and it's really been built off of a very strong first half where they delivered double-digit signings growth at the GBS and TS and CP segment level and now, you saw their backlog continues to improve. Their backlog now in total is $116 billion. Within that, 30% of that backlog now is cloud, as they continue to capitalize on the secular shift and deliver more and more value overall.

    Our integration software business has grown 1% and continues to grow through the first half. What we've got to work on, and this is part of having an integrated portfolio and part of having success in other areas, their TSS business is down 4%, but that's a function of us significantly overachieving against their last program, their mainframe product cycles. They see a deceleration in TSS, but we're seeing the offset in their systems base of business going forward.

    So, when you look at that trajectory improvement, they returned their backlog back to flat in the second quarter in TS and CP. And again, a lot of work ahead of us. We've got to fuel second half signings. We've got a good opportunity pipeline, but I see continued trajectory improvement and then their focus on margins as they move forward in the second half to deliver second half services gross profit margin expansion are going to be critical to their guidance.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thanks, Jim. Can they go to the next question, please?


    The next question comes from David Grossman of Stifel Financial. Your line is now open.

    David Grossman -- Stifel Financial Corp. -- Analyst

    Thank you. Hi, Jim. This year, you're guiding to free cash flow roughly equal to net income, which is above your longer-term target. I know it's way too early to providing 2019 insight; however, are there are factors that are driving the '18 free cash flow that may not reoccur next year or even potentially reverse that they should be factoring into their thinking for next year?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Yes, David. Thank you very much and good to hear from you again. Before I get to the long-term view, I mean I think you kind of nailed it. Let's talk about their free cash flow guidance here through the second quarter and more importantly, through the first half. First of all, they talked about entering the year that they expected $12 billion of free cash flow. That was down about $1 billion. If you remember, at that point in time, they talked about they were going to continue to invest in their business in terms of capital, to build out their IBM cloud architecture, and oh, by the way, in the second quarter, I think you have seen the announcement where they expanded 18 new availability zones around the world, so they are committed to winning in the cloud space and we're investing to go do that. But they also said they were going to have a significant cash tax headwind here in 2018. Then their GAAP profit, as they start turning this business and deliver on their at least $13.80, was going to pretty much offset their strong working capital efficiency that they exited last year with their mainframe cycle.

    So, through the first half, they delivered $3.2 billion of free cash flow. That's down $400 million. It's important to understand the underpinnings behind that. Within that, we've invested $300 million year-to-year, up 20% on capital already through the first half. We've had strong operational after-tax profit performance that delivered a positive contribution of $600 million to support that investment in capital as they move forward. So, when you do the net then, their entire year-to-year reduction through the first half is all driven by cash tax headwind. That cash tax headwind is $700 million through the first half and it's all behind us now.

    So, their second half free cash flow, to your point, we've always said as a rule of thumb, free cash flow should follow their profit levels. When you look at their realization, you see it playing out in their realization. We're well in excess of 100%. Their trailing 12 months is at $12.6 billion and their attainment supports that $12 billion free cash flow level as they move forward.

    So, it's too early to look at '19. We'll deliver that in January. But at least hopefully the answer gives you some of the dynamics of what's playing out in free cash flow.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Thanks, David. Ann, can they please take the next question?


    The next question comes from Keith Beckman of Bank of Montreal. Your line is now open.

    Keith Beckman -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

    Thank you very much. Jim, I wanted to see if you could talk a little bit about the durability of services. You've talked about GBS and technology and cloud outsourcing growing constant currency in the second half of the year, yet backlog, total services backlog is down 1% in constant currency. So, once you recheck growth, are you still calling for durable growth in those businesses, even with backlog down? Then my follow-up -- well, let me ask my follow-up question after that.

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    No, why don't you ask your follow-up question now.

    Keith Beckman -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

    Well, just within GBS. Something I wanted to come back to, application management is still under pressure, as it is for most of the providers. Is that going to continue within the context of GBS or you actually see application management within the confines of GBS improving?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Okay, Keith. So, thank you very much for just getting it all and giving me a better perspective of the entirety of your multiple-part questions so they can put this in perspective. So, let's talk about, I'll drive you back to 180 days ago, when they were sitting here in January. They talked about the position where they were at. They talked about what's going on with the dynamics of their backlog overall, and they talked about the backlog realization and runout that they saw over the 2018 period.

    We said entering 2018, that they had much stronger backlog realization or runout, I should say, they that were starting with than they did entering 2017. You're seeing that play out as they go through the first half, where they made sequential year-to-year improvement over the first quarter and now they turn both of their services businesses back to growth.

    Now, within that, as they stated earlier, in a human capital-based services business, you've got to continue fueling those signings that delivers backlog. And more importantly, you've got to drive the right composition of backlog that drives your backlog realization in yield, and also drives duration. Obviously, what you're seeing over time is you're seeing, I think, a secular shift with regard to what's happening to duration and long-term contracts. You're not seeing that anymore.

    So, we're getting higher yielding revenue. We're also, the composition of their backlog with consulting, which accelerated to 4%, that composition is much more shorter term and higher value as they move forward. So, over the long run, you're right. You've got to continue to fuel signings to fuel that backlog, but I would tell you, outer years of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, in today's world are much less relevant than an in period your first year, your second year, your third year in the composition.

    So, they do feel confident with that trajectory improvement. They came off the first half delivering good growth, double-digits and signings in the first half, and the composition of those signings, as I said, they already have 30% of their backlog that's sitting in cloud. By the way, over 40% of their backlog is now in key, strategic, imperative workloads overall. So, that's kind of your first question.

    Your second question, AMS. They talked about AMS. Obviously, that's going through a secular shift in the industry. You're seeing that play out against all the competitors that are in the space today. But I would tell you what differentiates IBM with regards to AMS? One, it's their value of incumbency. The integrated play, the integrated model of IBM, the value of incumbency and the reason we're in the AMS business is they understand their clients' operating models, their client's workloads, and their clients' business processes. They said entering this year that they were seeing success in us leveraging that value of incumbency to be the destination to help their clients with the journey to the cloud and move to the cloud.

    We're seeing that play out in the first half. We're not only in the first quarter, but also in the second quarter they had double-digit signings growth in their AMS business over time. Again, backlog yes is still down overall. Their revenue is down 3%, but they see this inflection point as they move forward and they continue to leverage and deliver that value for their clients as they move on their journey overall.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Let's go to the next question, please.


    The next question comes from Jim Suba of Citibank. Your line is now open.

    Jim Suba -- Citibank -- Analyst

    Thanks very much. Jim, I just have one question for you. As you sit there in the CFO seat and you're calling now for margins to accelerate or improve or expand year-over-year in the second half of the year, what are the milestones that are hitting that kind of make you call that out? The happiness behind it, the confidence. What's the milestones that they can look back and say that made a lot of sense and it has long-term durability to it? Thank you.

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Jim, thank you very much for the question. It's a good question overall. If you take a look at it, I've said from January, they obviously have multiple scenarios. How do they make at least $13.80? What I looked at and the team, and the entire management team looks at is the trajectory of their business, the operational indices, and the drivers as they see going forward of headwinds and tailwinds on that guidance for their shareholders of at least $13.80.

    But when you take a look at revenue growth, I said they would have revenue growth at current spot rates for the full year, and that they would have pre-tax operating margin expansion and operating leverage in their business. So, to your question, what do they look at and what are the trends that are driving that? So, let's unpack it. I've talked about this the last couple calls. The way I look at margin expansion really centers around three or four major areas.

    No. 1, margin expansion is going to be delivered through us continuing to leverage the momentum in their enterprise cloud and their as-a-service-based business. Why? Because it's going to generate scale efficiencies for us to deliver on what they said at their investor day, which is margin accretion as they move through to the cloud. So, scale efficiencies, they are seeing that improvement in the first quarter. We're seeing improvement in the second quarter, and it's all being built off of the momentum around their cloud and their as-a-service-based business.

    Second, they talk about mix. Mix being another lever. So, you look at the mix of one within each of their segments and how we're shifting to higher value, which we're making good progress. The best instantiation of that is GBS, where they're getting better price realization and better value around remixing their offerings to sell better value. But also across segments, they have a big mix headwind as they talked about 90 days ago, with regard to the mainframe cycle. So, they take that into account.

    The third bucket is around productivity. This is around how you transform the way you work. It's predominantly led by their services-base of business. But it's also about how they reinvent and how they run their company around their infrastructure and enterprise productivity. Both are giving us operating leverage as they move forward. We're seeing the latter play out in their expense efficiency structure here in the second quarter and in their services-base of business, they talked about the work we're doing around their workforce optimization, the significant actions they took in the first quarter. I said it's predominantly the yield on that is in the second half. That should accelerate significantly.

    But we're also transforming the way they actually deliver service. Redesigning it, applying Agile methodologies, infusing AI and automation, and driving a differentiated value to their clients to improve the quality in addition to the efficiently and margin.

    Finally, the last point, which given services is 60% of their business, human capital based business, you have to generate revenue to generate operating leverage. It's tough generating operating leverage when revenue is down. We're seeing, as that revenue trajectory improves and we're seeing as they play out here in the second quarter returning services back to growth, that we're going to get the operating leverage as they move forward. That's what makes us confident in delivering at least $13.80.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Great, thanks. Ann, let's take one last question, please.


    The last question comes from Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

    Amit Daryanani -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

    Thanks. Glad I made it under the line there. Maybe to start, cognitive revenue is down in constant currency in the quarter and really there's some amount of transactional business there, but just help me understand what tempered the growth there and then do you think cognitive will actually grow in the back half of the year because your compares start to get fairly difficult in that business I think in the back half of the year.

    And then, Jim, just on gross margins, what's leading you to start talking about [inaudible] aggregate total IBM gross margins will be flat to stable and now it sounds like it's on the in-services, so what's the degradation in cognitive or systems that's changing that statement on gross margins from a corporate level to only services now?

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Okay, so on each of them, Amit, first of all, thanks for getting into the queue. It's good to hear from you again. But on each of these, I think I answered them already. But let me just give the synopsis. On cognitive, they talked about the different dynamics within their portfolio around TPS, which had been growing, leverage the mainframe cycle. Now, it's more in line with what their expectations are. In solutions software, we've got strength in key strategic areas of their portfolio, analytics industry verticals, both FSS, in health, in security, in IoT, but we've got work to do on modernizing those key three segment areas of talent, collaboration, commerce. And that, as those secular shifts move much more aggressively to SaaS, that time to value gets realized over a longer period of time.

    So, they do they strength in certain components. We're making investments in others to transform, as I talked about, and modernize those offerings. That will play out over time. But with that said, we've done all the work and we're driving the acquisition integration synergies, the operational efficiency savings. They feel confident even at this level of revenue they can drive operating leverage within that business.

    Then finally, back to your question on margins. As I talked, first, I think the way they manage this business, value is instantiated in the services-base business in gross profit margin. Value is instantiated in the product-based business in pre-tax income because you've got to recoup the return on investment of your go-to-market and your development. So, I would not say I'm changing. I would say their operating view of the year of their financial model of revenue growth, of profit growth, of earnings per share, is exactly the same. The only thing that's different within that is the FX change in the last 90 days, with the significant U.S. dollar appreciation.

    Now, they hedge. They hedge that mitigates that profit variability. But when you look at currency around the element of the I&E, you see how it plays out differently. That transparency and credibility is what I feel is important for you and investors to understand, but it has no impact on their bottom line profit contribution and their delivery of their free cash flow and their at least $13.80 for the year. So, thank you, Amit.

    With that said, let me wrap up the call where I started by saying this was a good quarter. We're pleased. They had solid revenue growth and profit performance. This reflects the work we've been doing to reposition their business in terms of their offerings, their people, the way they work, and reinventing IBM. Now, as always, there's more work to do. I look forward to continuing the dialog over the course of the year. Thank you all for joining us on the call here this evening.

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Ann, I'm going to turn it back to you to close up the call.


    Thank you for participating on today's call. The conference is now ended. You may disconnect at this time.

    Duration: 80 minutes

    Call participants:

    James J. Kavanaugh -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

    Patricia Murphy -- Vice President of Investor Relations

    Wamsi Mohan -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

    Steven Milunovich -- UBS Securities -- Analyst

    Katy Huberty -- Morgan Stanley -- Managing Director of Research

    Toni Sacconaghi -- Bernstein -- Analyst

    Tien Tsin Huang -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

    Jim Schneider -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

    David Grossman -- Stifel Financial Corp. -- Analyst

    Keith Beckman -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

    Jim Suba -- Citibank -- Analyst

    Amit Daryanani -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

    More IBM analysis

    This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While they strive for their Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all their articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and they strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see their Terms and Conditions for additional details, including their Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

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    PostgreSQL-CE [1 Certification Exam(s) ]
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    See-Beyond [1 Certification Exam(s) ]
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    TIA [3 Certification Exam(s) ]
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    Trainers [3 Certification Exam(s) ]
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    USMLE [1 Certification Exam(s) ]
    VCE [6 Certification Exam(s) ]
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