Software Development

IBM uses generative AI to accelerate mainframe application modernization


IBM unveiled an AI-assisted generative product to accelerate the modernization of mainframe applications.

Watsonx Code Wizard for Z’ is the latest addition to the Watson Code Wizard product family. The solution – with the upcoming IBM Watsonx Code Assistant for Red Hat Ansible Lightspeed – is powered by IBM watsonx.ai code template.

Watsonx.ai has an impressive knowledge of 115 coding languages ​​and has been trained on a staggering 1.5 trillion tokens. With 20 billion parameters, it is poised to become one of the most comprehensive generative AI base models for code automation.

As part of a broader strategy, IBM says the Watson Code Assistant portfolio will expand over time to encompass various programming languages, addressing the changing challenges faced by developers and accelerating modernization efforts.

Watsonx Code Assistant for Z is tailor-made to help businesses harness the potential of generative AI and automated tools to drive the modernization of their mainframe applications. This effort aims to preserve the performance, security and resiliency capabilities offered by IBM Z.

The COBOL language, which underpins many critical business processes globally, presents a great transformation opportunity. With Watsonx Code Assistant for Z, developers can selectively and incrementally translate COBOL business services into well-architected, high-quality Java code. This approach has the potential to impact billions of lines of COBOL code, facilitating targeted modernization over time.

Generative AI gives developers a faster way to evaluate, update, validate, and test code, streamlining the modernization process and allowing them to focus on higher-impact tasks.

The solution is designed to cover every step of the modernization journey, with IBM’s Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence (ADDI) inventory and analysis tool. The process includes refactoring COBOL business services, transforming COBOL code into optimized Java code, and extensive validation using automated testing capabilities.

Benefits include accelerated code development, increased developer productivity, effective management of costs and complexity associated with modernization initiatives, broader access to IT skills, and achieving high-quality maintainable code through customizing the model and applying best practices.

Employees and industry experts expressed enthusiasm for IBM’s latest advancements.

Roger Burkhardt, CTO of Capital Markets and AI at Broadridge Financial, said:

“Our collaboration with IBM is an important part of our drive to leverage generative AI interfaces to challenge traditional approaches with substantial productivity gains and reinvent our capital markets solutions.

We have had excellent customer response to our investments in generative AI and are intrigued by the opportunity to continue our efforts by leveraging IBM Watsonx Code Assistant for Z to address a broader range of platforms .

IBM’s commitment to AI-powered mainframe application modernization aligns well with industry trends.

A recent study from the IBM Institute for Business Value highlights the preference for leveraging existing mainframe assets rather than starting from scratch. However, the lack of resources and skills remains a major challenge.

Kareem Yusuf, PhD, senior vice president of product management and growth at IBM Software, commented:

“By bringing generative AI capabilities through Watsonx to new use cases, we plan to drive real progress for our customers.

IBM is designing Watsonx Code Assistant for Z to take a targeted and optimized approach. It is designed to quickly and accurately convert code optimized for IBM Z, accelerate time to market and expand the skills base.

This can help improve applications and add new features while maintaining the performance, resiliency and security inherent in IBM Z.”

This historic achievement highlights IBM’s commitment to innovation, governance and careful integration of AI.

The resulting Java code from Watsonx Code Assistant for Z is designed for interoperability with COBOL applications, ensuring a seamless integration process. As AI and humans continue to collaborate in coding tasks, IBM’s approach aligns with Gartner’s prediction that AI-based code generation tools would reduce coding time by 30% by 2028.

Watsonx Code Wizard for Z is expected to release in Q4 2023. A product preview is planned during the TechXchange from September 11 to 13.

(Image credit: IBM)

See also: Julia programming language debuts in TIOBE index top 20

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  • Ryan Davies

    Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be spotted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If he’s a geek, he’s probably interested. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@[email protected])

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Keywords: AI, artificial intelligence, cobol, code wizard, coding, development, generative AI, ibm, ibm watson, ibm z, java, mainframe, programming, watsonx, watsonx.ai



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