IBM got a much-needed boost from Red Hat in its first quarter financial results, with revenue up 18 percent.

However, Big Blue’s total revenues were still down year-over-year, the company reported on Monday.

The first quarterly report since its new CEO Arvind Krishna took the helm, IBM reported a revenue of $17.6 billion, down 3.4 percent.

That beat Wall Street expectations for earnings of $1.79 on revenue of $17.62 billion.

Revenue from the Cloud and Cognitive Software business, which includes Cloud and Data platforms like Red Hat, totaled $5.2 billion, up 5 percent, nine months after IBM closed its $34 billion acquisition of the open source giant.

“Despite the stalling economic downturn over the past month, IBM still operates from a position of growth with a healthy pipeline of services engagements that are augmented by Red Hat’s commitment to automated and open sourced development,” said Nicki Catchpole, senior analyst at TBR Cloud and Software.

James Kavanaugh, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer, said Red Hat is already surpassing expectations.

“When we closed Red Hat back in July, we expected Red Hat net of interest expense to be accretive to free cash flow by the end of the first year. With Red Hat’s strong performance, after three quarters we have no achieved that milestone,” he said in a conference call on Monday afternoon.

“The number of Red Hat large deals was up from the fourth quarter and up to about 50 percent over the last year,” he added. “This is a great proof point of the value of IBM and Red Hat together. We see it in the larger Red Hat deals in the pipeline of IBM services engagements, and in the number of clients using Red Hat and IBM container solutions.

“We are now working with over 100 clients on Red Hat technologies, such as Anthem, Procter and Gamble, USAA, Santander [Bank] and Brighton Healthcare, just to name a few.”

Still, IBM is not immune to COVID-19.

Kavanaugh acknowledged that in recent weeks, as the impact of the pandemic intensified, clients began to “de-prioritize projects.”

Subsequently, IBM has withdrawn its full-year 2020 guidance in light of the current crisis. The company said it would reassess this position based on the macroeconomic recovery at the end of the second quarter.

Krishna, who stepped up on April 6, remained positive.

“I believe that what we are going through today with the shift to remote work, automation, application modernization will accelerate our clients’ shift to hybrid cloud,” he said on the same conference call. “This gives me immense confidence in our future.”

Can Red Hat give IBM another boost in earnings? We’ll find out soon