IBM to aid developers with GenAI in watsonx Code Assistant for Z

image of colourful code on a black background | watsonx Code Assistant for Z

IBM has introduced watsonx Code Assistant for Z, a new generative AI-assisted product to enable faster translation of COBOL to Java on IBM Z and enhance developer productivity on the platform.

Watsonx Code Assistant for Z will leverage generative AI and automated tooling to assist businesses accelerate their mainframe application modernization whilst preserving the performance, security and resiliency capabilities of IBM Z.

The newest addition to the watsonx Code Assistant product portfolio, since introducing IBM watsonx in May, and it will be followed by IBM watsonx Code Assistant for Red Hat Ansible Lightspeed, scheduled for release later this year.

These solutions will be powered by IBM’s code model, which will have knowledge of 115 coding languages having learned from 1.5 trillion tokens. At 20 billion parameters, it is on track to becoming one of the largest generative AI foundation models for code automation. IBM plans to extend the watsonx Code Assistant product portfolio over time, in order to address other programming languages to improve time to value for modernization and address growing skills challenges for developers.

At scale, using watsonx Code Assistant for Z in comparison to other approaches could make it easier for developers to selectively and incrementally transform COBOL business services into high-quality Java code. Generative AI can help developers to more quickly assess, update, validate and test the right code, with estimated billions of lines of COBOL code as potential candidates for targeted modernization over time.

The solution is also expected to include IBM’s Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence (ADDI) inventory and analysis tool, with the aim to accelerate code development, manage total cost, complexity and risk of application modernization initiatives and improve developer onboarding.

Kareem Yusuf, PhD, senior vice president, product management and growth, IBM Software, said: “By bringing generative AI capabilities through watsonx to new use cases, we plan to drive real progress for our clients.

“IBM is engineering watsonx Code Assistant for Z to take a targeted and optimized approach. It’s built to rapidly and accurately convert code optimized for IBM Z, accelerate time to market and broaden the skills pool. This can help enhance applications and add new capabilities while preserving the performance, resiliency and security inherent in IBM Z.”

This product will be generally available in Q4 2023 and is being designed to help accelerate COBOL application modernization. Watsonx Code Assistant for Z will preview during TechXchange, IBM’s learning event in Las Vegas, September 11-13.