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First released in 1970, ADABAS is considered by some[who?] to have been one of the earliest commercially available database products. Initially released on IBM mainframe systems using DOS/360, OS/MFT or OS/MVT, ADABAS is now[when?] available on a range of other systems including OpenVMS, Unix (including Linux and Linux on zSeries), and Microsoft Windows servers. ADABAS has maintained its position as one of the world's fastest OLTP databases, offering 24x7 functioning, Parallel Sysplex support, real-time replication capability, SQL and XML access and other capabilities. Historically, ADABAS was used in conjunction with Software AG's programming language NATURAL, so that many legacy applications that use ADABAS as a database on the back-end are also developed with NATURAL as well.
Files, not Tables as the major organizational unit
Records, not Rows as content unit within the organizational unit
Fields, not Columns as components of a content unit
No embedded SQL engine. SQL or another external query mechanism must be provided. SQL Access is provided by the ADABAS SQL Gateway. It provides ODBC, JDBC and OLE DB access to Adabas and enables SQL access Adabas using COBOL programs.
Search facilities may use indexed fields or non indexed fields or both.
Does not natively enforce referential integrity constraints, i.e. parent-child relations must be maintained by application code.
Supports two methods of denormalization: repeating groups in a record ("periodic groups"); and multiple value fields in a record ("multi-value fields").