Natural and Adabas Migration: Mitigating Disaster with the Power of Automation
Blog //15-06-2021

Natural and Adabas Migration: Mitigating Disaster with the Power of Automation

by Brandon Edenfield, Managing Director of Application Modernisation

There’s no such thing as a ‘sense of security’ when it comes to utilising ageing applications – no matter how efficiently they perform.

As the skillsets, resources and knowledge needed to maintain Natural / Adabas platforms continue to disappear, organisations across the planet who use these applications find themselves at greater risk of catastrophe. We saw this happen in January with the UK’s Police National Computer (PNC), where around 400,000 police records were accidentally deleted from the Natural-programmed mainframe during a routine clean-up. According to official government reports, ministers were told back in early 2020 that the PNC was running on ‘end of life, unsupported hardware and software’ – once again, highlighting the risks that these robust but aging systems carry.

The reality is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for Natural / Adabas modernisation, but by taking a phased approach, organisations of any nature can take advantage of new tools and features to simplify their lives and save money – putting the power back in their hands. They can even continue to work with the code they’re comfortable with. As for the cost benefits, The 2020 Mainframe Modernisation Business Barometer Report found that organisations could save on average US$31 million  if they modernised the most urgent aspect of their legacy systems.

There are generally two options for companies seeking to modernise these deployments without having to re-engineer their code: Automated Natural refactoring and Natural rehosting (or replatforming). We offer the best of these options under one roof; having been used for complex global modernisation projects with Police Mutual Assurance Society, Singapore Land Authority, US Department of Energy, and several others.

Each of these options guarantee 100 per cent functional equivalence between the source and target states, as well as liberation from expensive Software AG licence fees. Each can include Oracle Database, SQL Server, or Db2 as the data tier, and each method requires no post-modernisation manual fixes and code is ready for deployment and maintenance.

Natural Rehosting (Replatforming)

This is the lowest-risk and fastest way to escape expensive Natural and Adabas licence fees without disrupting users, developers or support resources. The Natural syntax from your existing applications is moved to the Cloud environment of your choice and executes in the new environment by way of 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 replatforming engine, called Application Transparency Platform (ATP) 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, Db2 or PostgreSQL, and each resulting relational database will have the same functionality and traversal capabilities as the original Adabas database.

We offer two options for rehosting Natural applications:

Mainframe: The mainframe solution involves Adabas conversion to Db2 for z/OS. This relational database environment allows you to continue using your mainframe resources to host your data and databases. Natural rehosting is achieved by importing the applications into ATP to run unchanged against the new relational database. Batch options include conversion of the batch Natural programs to COBOL running on your mainframe or re-engineering your batch reporting to utilise standardised reporting packages.

Off-Mainframe: The off-mainframe solution involves a one-time Adabas migration to Oracle, Db2, PostgreSQL or SQL Server hosted on an appropriate system in the Cloud. Natural rehosting is achieved by importing the applications into ATP to run unchanged against the new relational database. Batch options include reuse through our eavJES batch execution environment, refactoring of the batch Natural programs to COBOL .NET or C#, or re-engineering your batch reporting to utilise standardised reporting packages.

ATP 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 licences are required for processing the Natural syntax, 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.

Automated Natural Refactoring: Migration to Fully Maintainable Java or C#

In this option, automated technology produces new Java or C# code that offers 100 per cent functional equivalence to the original application. This code is native and fully maintainable. There are options for embedding the Natural language, using comments to help developers find business logic within the structure of the application. The code is pure Java or C# .NET code and is maintained by use of Microsoft Visual Studio (.NET) or through any of the Java IDEs now widely available such as Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, etc. The full functionality of the IDE can be used to refactor, replace, rename etc.

Technical Benefits of Natural / Adabas Migration

  • Supports data access to Adabas, VSAM, IMS, DB2, SQL Server or Oracle
  • Handles all aspects of the Natural programming language syntax including specific constructs such as REINPUT statements
  • Handles all Natural objects including programs, subprograms, DDMs, maps and data area types
  • Supports both reporting and structured mode Natural
  • Can be combined with the migration of COBOL to a relational database
  • Highly maintainable - can be more easily enhanced in the new environments
  • Allows customer-specific Natural conversion options such as naming convention changes
  • Support for JCL migration for a mainframe destination, JCL execution with eavJES in Unix or Windows, or JCL to script for a Unix or Windows destination

Next Steps

Get started by contacting us for a brief discovery and workshop session. There's no cost or risk to you - and you'll know whether or not we're a match for you in just a few days. Whilst Natural / Adabas migration is no doubt a complex undertaking, we provide flexible, incremental approaches that balance cost, risk and time in a way that meets your organisation’s unique requirements.

Useful Links:

Blog Application Modernisation Application Modernisation and Migration Application Modernisation Strategy Application Re-architected and Reintegration Application Understanding Application Modernisation Application Modernisation and Migration Application Analyser Application Understanding Assessment
Brandon Edenfield

Brandon Edenfield


Managing Director of Application Modernisation

Brandon Edenfield is the Managing Director of Application Modernisation, and has over 28 years’ experience in application migration and modernisation.

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