Adabas continues to play a vital role for installed base

Adabas is a database management system for IBM mainframes, Vax hardware, Unix and Windows.

What is it?

Adabas is a database management system for IBM mainframes, Vax hardware, Unix and Windows.

A few years ago a recruitment agency database specialist told Computer Weekly that there was no point in acquiring Adabas skills, since there were few new licence sales, and you would be condemning yourself to a lifetime of maintenance work.

Adabas supplier Software AG does not help its cause, with promotional literature that refers to client/server architectures and the Natural "4GL" (fourth generation language) - terms largely discarded elsewhere in the industry before the turn of the century.

However, Adabas is far from a legacy product: Software AG has continued to sell new Adabas licences, has kept its base of 3,000-plus installations, has successfully extended itself into a middleware provider, and leads the market for native XML platforms with Tamino. It is partnering with the likes of Fujitsu to deliver service oriented architectures.

Adabas has been steadily decoupled from Natural, with an increasing emphasis on Java, Eclipse, .net and Ajax development.

Adabas 2006, the latest release of its pre-relational database management system, promises 150,000 transactions a second with a much lower staff and system overhead than relational databases.

The relational Adabas D is shipped with Sun's Staroffice, and it is the basis of SAP's SAPDB and MySQL's MaxDB.

Where did it originate?

Software AG was founded in Germany in 1969, and Adabas launched in 1971. The company has partnered with other suppliers, including IBM, SAP, Fujitsu and Microsoft.

Adabas D/SAPDB/MaxDB went through a variety of early incarnations, under names such as Reflex, Supra 2 and Entire SQL. Beginning its commercial life with Nixdorf, it passed through Software AG's hands to SAP. SAP open-sourced SAPDB in 2000 in an effort to build a wider user community with no interest in marketing it separately, SAP signed an agreement with MySQL AG. The two companies develop the product jointly.

What is it for?

Although available for all commonly used platforms, Adabas is essentially a mainframe database used in 24x7, high-throughput online transaction processing applications. Adabas D and its offspring offer a much wider range of opportunities, with SAPDB/MaxDB offering a possible backdoor into lucrative SAP work that would otherwise be barred to self-funding newbies by the "no experience, no job/no job, no experience" conundrum.

What makes it special?

MaxDB can be downloaded free, but through SAP provides the back end to some of the most critical enterprise applications. Adabas itself continues to win analyst plaudits but few new sales.

How difficult is it to master?

Mastering Adabas will require a succession of four- and five-day courses. MySQL has started offering MaxDB courses (three days for database administrators, four days for developers) at its training centre in Munich.

Where is it used?

Software AG has more than 3,000 customers, most of them using large, mission-critical systems. They include Comet, Daimler Chrysler, Sony Music, Vodafone and a variety of local authorities and police services. Software AG is strongest in Germany SAP and MySQL are also based in Germany. More than 3,000 SAP installations use SAPDB.

What systems does it run on?

Most current operating systems, including z/OS, IBM Aix, Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, OpenVMS and Windows.


Adabas training takes place at Software AG's UK training centre in Derby. MaxDB is available for download, and there are resources and community links online.

rates of pay

Adabas database administrator jobs come up rarely and usually demand experience, but they pay upwards of £38,000.

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