CA IDMS provided a stable, dependable, and robust environment for mainframe applications for many years. At one time, IDMS was a cost-effective and high-performance product with wide adoption across mainframe customers.

Today, IDMS is one of the most expensive and challenging technologies to maintain on your mainframe. The user base is dwindling, and the remaining IDMS customers are confronted with a lack of support skills and rising fees. Consequentially, maintaining IDMS presents a growing risk that outweighs the risk of pursuing a modernization project.

As expenses rise and the mainframe talent shortage grows, it is mission-critical to evaluate options to modernize your ADS and IDMS applications.

Why Modernize?

Customers using CA IDMS and CA ADS today are acutely aware of the unique challenges with these technologies. The top three reasons IDMS customers contact Astadia are:

  1. Growing skills shortage – Clients have challenges finding COBOL programmers. When it comes to IDMS/DB, IDMS/DC, and ADS, this is a more significant challenge and is increasingly a primary concern for organizations.  
  2. High costs – IDMS customers are reporting significant increases in their renewal contracts. It is not unheard of that a customer experiences a 5-10x increase in price on their latest renewal. Astadia's customers achieve 60-90% cost savings annually by transforming their legacy mainframe applications.
  3. Technology obsolescence – With a dwindling user base, technologies like IDMS are quickly becoming obsolete. Nearly all industries face disruption from competitors who are born in the cloud. Often, mainframe clients report one of their top concerns is a lack of agility and responsiveness compared to their competition.  


Prerelational DBMS technologies are continuing to be retired at an increasing rate. Despite the marketing attempts from these vendors to position the products as relational, many organizations are still severely limited and do not have the flexibility offered by a true RDBMS.

While CA IDMS and other pre-relational DMBS provide a SQL interface, this functionality should not be mistaken as an alternative to converting to an RDBMS. SQL accessibility cannot match the functionality and capability organizations can achieve through using a relational DBMS.

Clients who migrate their mainframe applications to cloud platforms like AWS are increasingly turning to services like AWS's Relational Database Service (RDS). Using a managed service like RDS, clients can avoid the CA IDMS upgrades, patches, and maintenance required that were previously needed with their legacy DBMS.

Leveraging cloud services like RDS makes it possible to liberate your legacy data and easily integrate it with the organization's non-mainframe applications. Moreover, being in a cloud environment makes it significantly easier to migrate off that cloud, should that need arise. In contrast to a mainframe environment, the flexibility of being in a modern platform is far superior.

Ongoing Development

Applications built with CA ADS create a challenge for ongoing development. In addition, any future development will be dependent upon a legacy and proprietary technology, further compounding an organization's technical debt.

DevOps Integration

Migrating and converting IDMS and ADS to a modern programming language allows you to enable DevOps for your legacy applications. Clients who move from waterfall to DevOps innovate and respond to changing dynamics far superior to those left behind on the mainframe.

Customers frequently change from big batch releases monthly, quarterly, or yearly to now releasing daily or weekly. The competitive advantage a business can gain through this transformation cannot be overstated.  

Talent Shortage

Supporting legacy applications is increasingly becoming a growing risk for organizations. The shortage of mainframe talent is well known and often acutely experienced by mainframe customers. Global Systems Integrators are themselves having challenges finding enough resources to meet the demand of their clients.

Now is the time for organizations to modernize while there are still available resources to assist in a transformation project.

CA IDMS Migrations Fact Sheet

What Are the Options?

CA IDMS presents a challenging technology to transform. With applications that are often millions of lines of code and handling mission-critical functions for the business, the most practical approach is to pursue an automated transformation.

Using Astadia's technology, we can automate the conversion at scale of mainframe applications from ADS and IDMS to COBOL, Java, or C#, and leading relational databases. The converted application can run on or off the mainframe, and three critical criteria define success.

  1. Functional Equivalence: The migrated application will be functionally equivalent to the original.
  2. Performance: The performance of the migrated application will be equal or greater.
  3. Maintenance: The maintenance effort will be equivalent or reduced after the migration.

Clients can maintain their applications on the mainframe; for example, some clients choose to convert CA ADS/O, CA ADS/A, and CA IDMS/DB to COBOL and DB2 on z/OS. Other clients may migrate their IDMS and ADS applications to a Windows or Linux environment, using Java or C# and a database such as SQL Server or PostgreSQL.

-> Learn more about CA IDMS & CA ADS migrations.

Whether your direction is to convert CA ADS to COBOL, ADS to Java, or ADS to C#, all paths are possible. Moreover, the converted code will be maintainable and functionally equivalent and completed at a fraction of the time and cost of an application rewrite.

An automated refactoring transformation can be your final destination or the first step on your mainframe modernization journey. Clients can expect to resolve their significant risk areas with their IDMS applications through an IDMS migration while achieving substantial cost savings.

For some clients, when they migrate CA IDMS to AWS, Azure, or GCP, they will reinvest their savings into future modernization projects. Future modernization objectives may include replacing functionality with off-the-shelf software products or rewriting specific applications that may not best meet the business's needs.

However, for many clients, their migrated environment meets and exceeds their modernization goals and provides a stable platform for many years to come. Unlocking your legacy mainframe applications allows you to innovate, leverage native cloud services, and maintain your applications in a modern programming language with modern tooling.

If your strategy is to ultimately replace or rewrite your mainframe applications, being in a cloud or distributed environment is much more conducive to reaching that end state in a timely and successful manner. Moreover, the significant reduction in mainframe expense often allows clients to make a more impactful investment in their modernization journey.

Why Astadia?

Performing research on the market will return many companies who appear viable partners for a mainframe transformation project. Mainframe to the cloud is a hot topic with the major cloud providers in a fierce battle to grow their cloud business. As a result, there has been a significant investment to capture mainframe workloads and a wave of new entrants into the mainframe migration business. When evaluating a potential partner, it is critical to understand what criteria a partner will have to ensure your migration is a success.

Mainframe migration projects are challenging, high-stakes, and without the right skills and technology, they are high-risk endeavors.  

Astadia's position as the market share leader is the result of three primary factors. When evaluating any company, these factors should be at the top of your list for choosing a successful partner.

  1. Focus: Astadia has been in the mainframe migration business since 1994. Mainframe transformation is our core business. We are not in the market because it's trending; we've been partnering with clients for decades on their legacy modernization journey.
  2. Experience: Astadia has completed over 300 mainframe migrations for clients such as The U.S. Air Force, Société Générale and Deutsche Bank. The average consultant at Astadia has more than 26 years of mainframe experience.
  3. Technology: Astadia has developed tools to automate legacy code and data conversion, achieving 100% automation at scale. In addition, Astadia's automated testing tooling can significantly reduce the duration of migration and ensure project success.
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How can a client determine if Astadia's solutions provide the best path for their organization? First, we encourage those considering a migration project to reach out and ask about our Rapid Questionnaire process. The Rapid Questionnaire is a free and relatively low-effort process that asks to share details such as your mix of technologies, number of programs, and lines of code. It typically requires our customers to invest 1-hour of their time to complete. The Rapid Questionnaire allows us to build a high-level roadmap of what a mainframe migration journey will entail, including estimates for both the timeline and cost. To get started, please fill out this form.

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