What is GitHub Copilot for business?
GitHub Copilot for Business is an advanced AI-powered code completion tool specifically designed for enterprise developers and organizations. It automatically generates code by leveraging machine learning models trained on vast amounts of public code repositories. By integrating seamlessly with popular IDEs and code editors, Copilot for Business streamlines the development process and reduces repetitive tasks.
However, like the basic version of GitHub Copilot, GitHub Copilot Business creates the risk that some of the code it produces might not follow coding best practices, or might contain security vulnerabilities. Organizations should exercise caution and carefully review GitHub Copilot code before using it in software projects.
An image from a McKinsey report on developer productivity with generative AI, published in June 2023
Benefits of GitHub Copilot for organizations
GitHub Copilot offers several benefits for businesses, helping to improve efficiency, productivity, and overall code quality. Some of these benefits include:
- Faster development: Copilot can accelerate the development process by generating code snippets and offering suggestions, which can save developers time and effort when writing or modifying code.
- Improved productivity: With the AI’s assistance, developers can focus on more complex tasks and problem-solving, leading to increased overall productivity.
- Onboarding and training: Copilot can be a valuable tool for new hires, helping them to quickly understand and adapt to a company’s coding practices and standards. It also serves as a useful learning tool for junior developers, allowing them to learn from the vast knowledge encoded within the AI model.
- Knowledge sharing: Copilot draws from a diverse range of programming languages, libraries, and frameworks, which can help developers discover new techniques, best practices, and efficient solutions for various coding challenges.
- Reduced cognitive load: Developers can use Copilot to handle repetitive or tedious tasks, such as boilerplate code generation, allowing them to focus on more critical aspects of the project.
- Cost savings: With increased efficiency and productivity, businesses may be able to reduce development costs and shorten time-to-market for their products and services.
Challenges of implementing GitHub Copilot in organizations
Similar to GitHub Copilot for individuals, GitHub Copilot functions by transmitting code snippets from your IDE to GitHub.
There is limited control over code security, and the GitHub Copilot may not provide comprehensive protection against intellectual property leaks. GitHub Copilot’s model is based on open-source licenses, including some that are non-permissive, as well as GPL licenses with Copyleft clauses. GitHub Copilot’s training dataset includes a wide variety of public code, including licenses like GPL with non-permissive terms. This scenario could potentially expose companies to legal vulnerabilities.
Although GitHub Copilot brings numerous benefits to businesses, its implementation also poses certain challenges that require careful consideration. To successfully integrate the tool into existing workflows, organizations must thoroughly evaluate these challenges, strike a balance between the advantages of Copilot and the associated risks, and implement suitable measures to mitigate any potential issues.
- Intellectual property and licensing: Copilot is trained on a vast dataset of public code repositories, which might raise concerns about potential intellectual property infringement or improper use of copyrighted or licensed code. Businesses need to ensure that the generated code does not violate any copyrights, licenses, or legal agreements.
- Data privacy and confidentiality: Since Copilot is a cloud-based service, businesses should consider potential data privacy and confidentiality concerns when using the tool. It is essential to understand the data handling policies of GitHub and OpenAI to ensure that sensitive or proprietary code is not inadvertently exposed or shared.
- Loss of coding style and conventions: While Copilot can help maintain code consistency, it may not always generate code that adheres to a specific company’s coding style or conventions. Developers will need to ensure that any AI-generated code is modified to meet their organization’s coding standards.
- Integration and compatibility: While Copilot is currently integrated with Visual Studio Code, businesses using other development environments or IDEs may face challenges in integrating the tool into their existing workflows.
- Training and adoption: Introducing GitHub Copilot into a business may require additional training and resources to ensure that developers understand how to use the tool effectively and safely. This could initially result in additional costs and time investments.
- Code correctness and security: Copilot may sometimes generate incorrect, insecure, or vulnerable code, as the AI model is not perfect. It’s crucial for developers to thoroughly review the suggestions before incorporating them into their projects to avoid introducing bugs or security risks.
Enabling and setting up GitHub Copilot for business
Copilot Business is only available for companies with GitHub Enterprise, which costs $210 per user per year for the entire organization, which can add up to 100s of users.
If you want to use GitHub Copilot for Business in your organization or enterprise, you must first establish a policy for the use of GitHub Copilot. Once GitHub Copilot is enabled at the enterprise-level, you can configure GitHub Copilot settings for each organization in your enterprise.
Tabnine Enterprise: A GitHub Copilot alternative for companies
Tabnine is an AI code assistant used by over 1 million developers from thousands of companies worldwide. It provides contextual code suggestions that boost productivity, streamlining repetitive coding tasks and producing high-quality, industry-standard code.
Unique enterprise features
Tabnine’s code suggestions are based on Large Language Models that are exclusively trained on credible open-source licenses with permissive licensing. With Tabnine Enterprise, developers have the flexibility to run the model on-premises or in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), ensuring full control over their data and infrastructure while leveraging the power of Tabnine to comply with enterprise data security policies.
Advantages for enterprises:
- Trained exclusively on permissive open-source repositories
- Eliminates privacy, security, and compliance risks
- Avoid copyleft exposure and respect developers’ intent
- Can be locally adapted to your codebase and knowledge base without exposing your code
Customized for your organization
In essence, Tabnine is an AI code assistant that helps developers based on their unique codes and preferences, while protecting privacy of all users. Tabnine generates consistent and high-quality code suggestions across teams, reducing noice and helping prevent common errors.
Tabnine has recently released Tabnine Chat, an AI assistant trained on your entire codebase, safe open-source code, and every StackOverflow Q&A, while ensuring all of your intellectual property remains protected and private.
Tabnine Chat is always available for you, right in the IDE, to:
- Answer any of your questions regarding your code
- Generate new code from scratch
- Explain a piece of code
- Search your code repos for specific functions or pieces of code
- Refactor code
- Generate documentation (docstrings)
- Find and fix code issues
- Generate unit tests, and more
Learn more about Tabnine Chat Beta here.