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Update on Oracle’s Shift to Subscription Licensing for JAVA

Enterprises of all sizes use Java as a foundational application development platform. With over 15 billion installations of Java worldwide, most organizations will be impacted by recent changes that Oracle has made to the usage and licensing of the Java SE Oracle JDK software package.

The date (January 2019) has now passed for Java users and IT shops to obtain the final freely available public update to Java SE 8. With Java SE 9 and 10 already out of support, Java SE 11 is the newest Java SE version and now falls under a separate license agreement and commercial sales structure. What does this all mean?

We go in-depth on the latest Oracle Java license changes here.

This note is an update and clarification to our previous take on how Java end-user organizations need to evaluate the licensing changes. Especially alternatives to Oracle's shift from a partial open source model to a commercial subscription model for Java SE distribution under the Oracle JDK (Note: The Open JDK [non-commercial] is still offered for free, but has migrated from the Binary Code License (BCL) to the GPLv2 + Class Path Exception license).

Essentially the usage of the Oracle JDK Java SE offering, effective Java SE 11, is no longer a free, open-source license for use in production environments. Additionally, the publicly available updates for Java SE 8 are only available via a Java SE subscription (e.g. via desktop or server license model). Use of Java Commercial Features has always been subject to commercial licensing, and this has not changed.

Buried within the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) license agreement, it states:

“Further, You may not:

- use the Programs for any data processing or any commercial, production, or internal business purposes other than developing, testing, prototyping, and demonstrating your Application;”

Note that the legacy perpetual license plus support model has been discontinued by Oracle and will be removed from the Oracle Technology Price List in February 2019.Existing Java customers on active support are grandfathered under the legacy model for their existing licenses.

Under the new license model, Java SE 11 and all versions moving forward are covered by Oracle commercial licensing subscriptions. The free usage of Java SE for development and test purposes is still permitted under the OTN agreement. Production use of Java SE 11 and all versions moving forward must be licensed under the commercial subscription model.

The bottom line is that if you are an enterprise that utilizes Java in any manner, whether as a sub-component of an overarching Oracle application, a homegrown developed application, or as an embedded component of a third-party application, you will be affected by this license change from Oracle.

Our Take

Oracle has decided to move forward with converting the Oracle JDK Java SE distribution to a subscription license model from an open-source model that previously provided free usage and updates for non-commercial features. This licensing model shift affects both Oracle and non-Oracle client organizations alike and will be a massive revenue driver for Oracle in the years ahead. As most organizations are currently running Java SE 8, which will now require a subscription to obtain essential updates and patches, as well as the authorized use of the commercial features inherent within the Oracle JDK, it becomes increasingly apparent that all organizations depending upon Java developed applications should be exploring their licensing options.

Future notes will explore your options for obtaining Oracle Java SE subscriptions as well as alternatives to the Oracle JDK commercial licensing. In the end, IT shops will need to devise a comprehensive plan for how Java-based applications are going to be maintained appropriately or re-platformed to alternative Java development frameworks or non-Java frameworks.

Want to Know More?

Oracle Is Replacing Free Java SE Public Support With Paid Subscription Support Offering
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