Could it be that, for the IT industry, the recent positive outlook in respect of the end of the recession is more than just wishful thinking? If the results from Big Blue (news, site) and Intel (news, site) are anything to go by, the answer must be a resounding "Yes."

While everyone was expecting a good show from both companies, the results from each in the hardware space, and the fact that the biggest growth areas were in their developing markets, seems to show that finally there is enterprise money floating about again and it's being spent on IT.

Certainly the international stock exchanges are responding positively to the results, particularly as many were concerned that the devastating earthquake in Japan on March 11 would take its toll.

IBM Growth Areas

Now that the results are out and everyone is feeling a bit better, the growth areas that have been identified in the results definitely point to a good year ahead.

According to Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge, IBM had double-digit growth in nearly 40 countries, with its business analytics products up 20%, as well as strong sales in software and consulting business. He added that the hardware unit had the "best first quarter growth in over a decade."

Across the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), overall average growth was up 22%, with growth in China up 33% and Russia up 53%.

First-quarter net income was $2.9 billion compared with $2.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010 -- an increase of 10% -- while total revenues for the first quarter of 2011 of $24.6 billion increased 5% from the first quarter of 2010.

IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano said that momentum in the areas in which there have been major announcements over the past 12 months has been “excellent," including its business analytics and smarter planet initiatives, as well as its cloud computing business, which is expected to double over the entire year.

Software revenues also did well as enterprises look at revamping systems that haven’t really had a lot of investment since 2009, with revenues of US$ 5.3 billion -- an increase of 6% on the same quarter last year, or 10% if you take its sale of its product lifecycle management operations.

Its middleware segment also did very well, with the WebSphere family giving a particularly impressive performance, increasing of 51% year-on-year, with information management software revenues increasing 13%, Tivoli by 8% and Lotus by 1%.

Revenues from the company’s business analytics operations across services and software segments increased 20%.

A final indicator worth looking at: Revenues from the hardware segment totaled $4.0 billion for the quarter, up 19% from the first quarter of 2010. Growth here was pushed by an increase in mainframe revenues, with its System Z line of growing by 41% during the quarter.

Underlying Market Growth

But it’s not just IBM that has had a good quarter, supporting the belief that the business is back to normal after the past two years.

Intel, for example reported revenues of US$ 12.8 billion, up 25% on a year ago, while VMWare (news, site) reported an increase in sales of 33% to US$843.7 million as enterprises looking at virtualization to run multiple applications. Juniper, which provides Internet networking products, announced revenues of US$ 1.102 billion for Juniper's first quarter, or net incomes of US$ 130 million, up 24% from the same period last year.

The other thing worth noting with these results is that the companies are all expecting the momentum to continue at least through this quarter, and probably to the end of the year at least.

With the results of quite a number of other companies on the way, it will be noteworthy to see whether the good news has trickled down to the smaller players and whether the recession is over for them, too.