Old Data vs. Big Data:
Moving from ADABAS to SQL Server

adabas to SQL Server

Advantages of Moving Data from ADABAS to SQL Server

A broad view of organizational data is vital for management reporting, business intelligence, analytics and decision support. But what happens when critical data from important lines of business is locked up in a legacy system, technically incompatible with modern data management solutions? Dealing with non-relational databases has long been the domain of specialist DBAs. Now it’s impacting the business, preventing a full view of the organizational data necessary to make decisions.

Business demands for better reporting, integration with mobile, social, analytics and cloud platforms have exposed the inefficiency of maintaining an ADABAS platform, which can no longer compete with open systems in time to development, scalability and cost. The combination of these factors in addition to the prohibitive expense of ADABAS platforms is driving change.

Old Data vs. Big Data
Database modernization efforts worldwide are being driven by Business Intelligence (BI) reporting and the processes that support it. BI systems integrate data across the enterprise, equipping corporate decision makers with the information they need to maintain and improve business performance, successfully scale as their businesses grow, and identify and implement new business initiatives and strategies. BI has been a key driver of as companies are moving quickly to leverage data warehousing capabilities for competitive advantage.

Money Matters
However, the more obvious, quantifiable reason for moving from ADABAS to SQL Server is cost. Software AG has chosen to maximize the revenue coming in for ADABAS while it still can. Most ADABAS customers are large enterprises, so each customer could pay a lot more than a typical Open Systems customer. Prices for ADABAS have quickly jumped into the hundreds of thousands US dollars. This short term revenue strategy has been effective. In January 2014, Software AG reported a record level of license sales in the final quarter, with Group license revenue climbing 22 percent. However, the number of ADABAS installations has steadily declined, and revenue predictions for the same group in 2015 are 9 to 16% lower.

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Modern Systems Solution for Migrating from ADABAS to SQL Server

The Modern Systems ADABAS conversion strategy includes the generation of a new relational database to replace the functionality, multiple-occurring fields and groups, and other data element structures that are currently part of the ADABAS inverted list database. The new target database can reside on the mainframe or off the mainframe, and can use any of the standard relational database management systems (RDBMS): Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle or IBM DB2.

Modern Systems also handles the conversion of the applications that use the ADABAS files. We can convert Natural, COBOL, Assembler, Easytrieve, JCL and Procs for ADABAS applications.

Replacement of Adabas Database Functionality

The Modern Systems solution provides a complete replacement for all ADABAS database functionality including MU and PE management, ISN usage, super descriptors, sub descriptors and more. The resulting database is fully relational. Primary keys and index definitions are automatically created. All constraints are generated into the resulting DDL. Table spaces, indexes, table names and column names are all generated according to your naming standards.

ADABAS to SQL Server Data Conversion

The Adabas data extract and relational load process is simple, straightforward and fast. Modern Systems can provide a number of extract variations for sites that have special requirements for a short Adabas data conversion window. Special workbenches within DB-Shuttle® provide additional capabilities for tailoring your Adabas migration so that the new database meets your needs and requirements.

Customization Workbenches
Special workbenches within DB-Shuttle provide additional capabilities for tailoring your Adabas migration so that it better meets your needs and requirements:

  • Re-name Workbenches to allow full naming of all tables, columns, table spaces and indexes using a rules basis or a full-name basis
  • Data Cleansing Workbench to provide rule-based data cleansing during the Adabas data extract process
  • Date Conversion Workbench to allow the specification of the format of Adabas date fields along with the individual Adabas date field minimum and maximum values so that the DATE type specification can be used in relational databases (all date formats are supported)
  • Element Rename Workbench which allows selection of group level or elementary Adabas fields for use as columns in the relational database
  • Record Re-Definition Workbench to allow changes to field types and lengths during the relational conversion

Migration Isn’t Your Only Choice

Modern Systems also has an ADABAS rehost solution that allows end users to continue interacting with the legacy system through familiar screens while processing against a new relational database. Natural developers continue to maintain and enhance the application through an improved interface. The Modern Systems Application Transparency Platform is an alternative solution to ADABAS conversion.

This is the lowest-risk and fastest way to escape expensive Adabas license fees without disrupting users, developers or support resources. The Natural syntax from your existing applications is moved to Windows and executes in the Windows environment as a rich client.  Natural source code resides as data in a SQL Server database and can be accessed, changed, debugged and executed using a workbench designed specifically for Natural developers. The rehosting engine reads the Natural syntax as data and interprets the processing at a byte level to produce results that are identical to Natural that executes in the mainframe environment. All Adabas databases are converted to SQL Server, Oracle or DB2, and each resulting relational database will have the same functionality and traversal capabilities as the current Adabas database. We offer two options for rehosting Natural applications:

  • Mainframe: migrate your Adabas data to DB2 for z/OS and re-host/re-platform the Natural applications in the rehosting environment (example below)


  • Off Mainframe: migrate your Adabas data to the Database Server of your choice (SQL Server or Oracle) and re-host/re-platform the Natural applications in the rehosting environment

This solution brings with it a full development platform, enabling application documentation, debugging, dual run-mode execution, version control, and enhanced features beyond the original programming language environment. No Software AG licenses are required for processing the Natural syntax. No Software AG licenses are required for processing of the new relational databases (SQL Server, Oracle or DB2), nor for the execution of the COBOL or C#/Java batch programs that are converted to process against the new database.


Given the complexity of moving from one data tier to another, it’s important to choose the right partner. With over 20 years experience, Modern Systems is the right choice for ADABAS to SQL Server data migration.

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