Retire Big Iron

Migrate Apps to Java or C#, Convert Pre-Relational Databases to Relational
Automated Conversion delivers a modern application and data tier with 100% like-for-like functionality as compared to the legacy application, based on fully maintainable open systems. This reduces cost, allows for deeper integration, and enables customization to meet business requirements. This solution is great for moving legacy apps to Java or C#, and databases to SQL Server, DB2, or Oracle.
The automated conversion approach preserves the benefits of the legacy environment while empowering organizations to leverage the advantages of newer platforms. Modern Systems’ automated conversion technology guarantees 100% like-for-like functionality and generates fully maintainable Java or C# code. This means once the legacy application and database is converted, developers can extend application functionality directly without having to navigate COBOL to do it. Precious business logic from the legacy system is preserved, while enabling deeper integration and customization to meet business requirements. It also opens up a whole new world of scalable resources for systems support. Many code transformation solutions create structurally similar programs in the new language, but then need an additional re-engineering effort to yield desired results. Our solution is completely automated, removing the risk associated with the tweaking that goes into other solutions that produce “spaghetti code” in a line-for-line format that is difficult to maintain and resource heavy. Translating a procedural language to object oriented Java or C# presents many challenges. As such, Modern Systems’ automated conversion process was designed with the following requirements in mind:
  • The resulting application should work exactly the same as the original application and produce exactly the same results
  • The resulting application should be maintainable and follow the object oriented concepts and paradigms: Encapsulation, abstraction, modularization, loose coupling, etc.
  • The resulting application should perform as well, or better than, the original application on the open systems platform

The Process

Phase 1: Mainframe Assessment

The assessment is a complete research and analysis project that outlines all legacy application and database conversion candidates. This step is vital to the automated conversion process and to successful modernization in general. Most organizations are surprised to find at the conclusion of the assessment phase, their legacy environments present themselves quite differently and are more complex than originally assumed.
During this stage, components are classified and listed in detail, while notes are attached to components requiring special attention. All application components are inventoried, classified by language, and cross-referenced, ensuring all missing components are collected and added to the inventory. The assessment phase results in a complete understanding of the legacy processing environment. This phase also includes discussing and reviewing the overall system test strategy and the division of converted code into work packets. Modern Systems defines a set of topics during the assessment phase that must be addressed prior to beginning the conversion process. In order to speed the modernization process, these topics are be addressed by team members who are best suited to understand the topic, the solution options, and any changes or activities that are required to address the “Areas of Concentration”. Once the areas of concentration are identified, Modern Systems works in lock-step with customer teams to address the areas about which they are most knowledgeable and for which they are best suited to implement a solution. Any additional areas of concentration that are identified during the course of the project are addressed and assigned in the same manner, to the most appropriate team.

Modern Systems' Mainframe Assessment Process

Phase 2: Database & Application Code Conversion

After the assessment is complete and a strategy for moving ahead is established, the automated conversion work is done; it spans both the application and data tier. First, the database is converted from the pre-relational to a relational format such as Oracle, SQL Server, or DB2. It includes the tasks required for unloading, transformation, and loading of data from the legacy database to the target environment. During the assessment, a data migration specification was created based on the structure of the existing data model and the database mapping rules. To accomplish this, Modern Systems generates programs/scripts to be used for the customer’s testing and migration of production data. Highlights of the data migration phase include:

  • Non-relational database modeling utilizes a one-to-one default mapping approach into the new relational data model
  • Deliverables include scripts/programs necessary for extract/transform/load (ETL) of data from the source environment to the target environment, as well as DDL for defining the target data model in the relational model, pre-delivery tested on customer-supplied test data, and data verification software
  • Migration of data for on-site testing and production data
While the database conversion takes place, application code is loaded into our proprietary tools for conversion. At this stage, code included in the areas of concentration identified during assessment are handled with special care. Once complete, converted, functionally equivalent application code is delivered to the customer in a series of work packets, based on milestones determined during the assessment. Automated Conversion covers online applications, batch programs, JCL members, etc. Modern Systems tests the converted code for functional equivalence, then delivers it along with any required frameworks to the customer for installation and on-site testing.

Phase 3: Test, Refresh, & Deploy

Modern Systems tests a subset of the converted code using a test plan with documented test scenarios provided by the customer. The customer writes the tests and runs them on the existing system to capture and record the expected results. Modern Systems then runs the tests against the same data on the converted system, identifies, investigates, and fixes discrepancies in the expected behavior of the modernized application. Pre-delivery testing consists of test cases picked from all available functional test cases in order to be representative of different parts of the applications. The automated conversion process does not require code freezes, which is a major risk reducer for customers, however, it is necessary to bring the new codebase up-to-date, therefore once pre-delivery testing is complete and any discrepancies in application behavior are resolved, Modern Systems performs a code refresh to ensure that any changes that took place in the legacy application environment during the conversion process are accounted for, converted into the target language and environment, and tested.

The Modern Systems teams work closely with customer teams to ensure a smooth and error-free transition night or weekend. Our teams also provide any required assistance during the 90-day warranty period following the deployment as well as post-conversion support of the modernized application, available at a fixed rate or in hourly buckets purchased as needed by the customer.

Additional Resources

  • Application Transparency Platform (ATP) - While ATP is most commonly touted as the best Natural/ADABAS Replatforming solution in the industry, it is also capable of automated conversion. A simple right-click "SaveAs" command converts legacy Natural syntax to modern C#.
  • Don’t Kick The Can Down A Crumbling Road - Recently, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an eye-opening report which found that roughly 75% of the government’s $80 billion IT budget goes to keep aging technology running, and the increasing cost is shortchanging modernization and causing a lot of headaches. This whitepaper explains why automated COBOL conversion is the fastest, most cost-effective, and safest way to alleviate reliance on legacy infrastructure, databases, and the application code that supports them.
  • COBOL to Java or C# Automated Conversion - This is a technical deep-dive into our COBOL Automated Conversion technology. Learn how our solution empowers companies to keep the benefits of their legacy business logic while guaranteeing a fully maintainable Java or C# end state, compatible with the database and hardware of their choice. A great way to prepare and evaluate your COBOL migration roadmap.
  • When CA Gen Isn't Cool Anymore - CA Gen applications are usually of considerable size and accumulate complex business logic. A lack of skilled resources, limited integration and high costs create challenges around maintaining CA GEN. This whitepaper covers the current state of CA GEN in the enterprise and the most efficient, low-risk way to modernize.
  • Natural Selection: Moving Away From Software AG - Despite running mission critical applications and transactions on Software AG platforms, specific factors are driving companies away from Natural/Adabas. This document incorporates industry analysis, direct customer feedback and 30 years of project experience to help you understand, build and execute on a business case for modernizing Software AG Natural/Adabas environments.
Case Studies
  • How To Migrate 4,000 Programs Without the Business Knowing - This COBOL/IDMS modernization project with Desjardins General Insurance Group currently stands as the largest successful modernization project done in both North America and in the history of the insurance vertical.
  • The Golden Goose: Taking Core Applications from COBOL to Java - AeroSoft Systems, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada since 1997, maintains a unique position in the aircraft maintenance management software industry. CEO Thanos Kaponeridis wanted to modernize their flagship software product in a way that would be transparent to their current installed base and enable operational and business goals behind the scenes. Here's what happened.
  • Shooting for the S.T.A.R.S. - The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) handles the registration of property transactions, the issue of new title documents for all properties in Singapore. The Singapore Titles Automated Registry System (STARS) captures this information, applies current policy rules and ensures accurate data for the Land Register, which is guaranteed by law. If this information is inaccurate, or if the updated policy information is not applied, the government is open to legal and financial liability. Get the details on this Natural/ADABAS modernization project that minimized user impact while meeting some unique performance and integration requirements.
  • Mainframe to Microsoft: Police Mutual - The ultimate goal of this Natural/ADABAS to Java/SQL Server modernization project was to help over 200,000 police officers receive savings, investments and insurance services quicker.
  • Natural ADABAS Win Book - Our Natural/ADABAS Win Book is the definitive guide for companies seeking to transition out of these environments and into modern systems.

Heads up! This website is no longer being updated as of 2022. For the most up-to-date information on Advanced's modernization services and/or for any enquiries, go to