A Basic Introduction to Java’s Per Employee Metric

Java compliance took an interesting turn last January when Oracle dispensed with its old licensing model in favor of a new per employee model. They introduced a per employee metric that simplifies licensing but likely raises the cost of using Java Standard Edition (SE) for most companies.

Miro’s Java compliance services include a friendly Java license review that helps companies fully comply with the per employee metric. Compliance is no joke. Being found out of compliance could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.

How Oracle Counts Employees

For licensing purposes, Oracle counts just about everyone that would or could use Java SE products in support of your company, whether certain individuals directly access the products or not. Oracle counts two types of people as employees:

  1. Direct Employees – All of your full-time, part-time, and temporary employees on your payroll are counted under the per employee metric.
  2. Support Workers – All of the workers employed by contractors or other companies supporting your internal business operations are counted for licensing purposes.

In terms of the latter, support workers are considered full-time, part-time, and temporary employees of contractors, outsourcing partners, consultants, and any other agents that provide services to your company, whether said employees directly access Java SE.

Why Oracle Made the Change

Prior to January 2023, Java SE products were licensed based on more traditional metrics, including processors and named users. Companies counted the number of processors on servers running Java. They also counted the number of users directly accessing Java for their day-to-day tasks.

When Oracle implemented the new per employee metric, they also changed the name of their subscription model to ‘Java SE Universal Subscription’. The new name gives us an inkling into why Oracle may have made the change.

It is reasonable to suspect that one of the reasons for the change was simplifying licensing and fee assessment. The per employee metric is arguably easier than counting processors and direct users.

Obviously, we cannot discount the fact that the per employee metric also increases revenue. Because it covers everyone associated with the company, Oracle earns more in licensing fees under the new model. We should note that the change also ushered in a new effort by the company to ensure Java compliance.

A Renewed Focus on Audits

Since October of last year, Oracle has taken a renewed interest in auditing Java SE users. Prior to implementing the per employee metric, the company relied mostly on its sales team to manage compliance issues. That is no longer the case. Oracle License Management Services is now directly involved in auditing customers.

Those chosen for audit are done so based on a variety of metrics monitored by the sales team. However, companies who have not run any Oracle products have also been targeted in the past. Your company can prepare for a potential audit by way of a soft Java license review provided by a company like ours.

Steps You Can Take Right Now

In advance of either an official audit or a soft license review, there are things your company can do. We suggest starting with a full review of your existing Java license agreements. Make sure the necessary decision makers understand licensing obligations.

In addition, your organization might also consider alternatives to Java SE, like OpenJDK, if the per employee metric would harm your software licensing budget. Oracle might be open to negotiating a new license agreement with your company as well, so that’s worth looking at. The bottom line is that the per employee metric is now the default license metric. Make sure your organization is doing things the right way.

Contact us today to have your Java license compliance audited by experts.

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Miro is a leading global provider of software asset management services, specializing in license management, audit advisory, negotiation tactics, support management, and cloud services. We help our clients maximize ROI on their software license investments, stay in compliance, and minimize the impact of audits. Miro's performance guarantee promises that our long-tenured, diverse, and passionate team of expert analysts provides insightful and actionable advice to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.