Java Alternatives

On January 23, 2023, Oracle quietly announced their new licensing metric for Java, the Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription metric. Since then, Oracle has done two (2) things; possibly three (3):

  1. Oracle no longer offers the older metrics of Processor (servers, with the core-factor applied) and Named User Plus (workstations). Even if you had originally licensed the older metrics (beginning in April 2019 and ending just prior to the adoption of the new metric), once that term ran its course (or will run its course), by default, Oracle will present only the new metric. The new metric is defined as (with Miro’s embellishment):

Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription: is defined as (i) all of Your full-time, part-time, temporary employees, and (ii) all of the full-time employees, part-time employees and temporary employees of Your agents, contractors, outsourcers, and consultants that support Your internal business operations. The quantity of the licenses required is determined by the number of Employees and not just the actual number of employees that use the Programs. For these Java SE Universal Subscription licenses, the licensed quantity purchased must, at a minimum, be equal to the number of Employees as of the effective date of Your order.[1]


This has largely increased the price of the subscription. In the price list itself, the example is given for an organization with 28,000 employees. Though licensing is tiered – and there is 55% off of the “list” price of $180 per year – it would still cost $2,268,000 per year! That’s a far cry from just 500 employees (workstations) and just 100 processors which would run some $43,500 per year. Or double or even quadruple that $43,500 figure. It still pales in comparison!

  1. Oracle is auditing both Oracle customers (and non-customers). For customers, this is despite Oracle Document ID 1557737.1 (login required) clearly stating that:

This document clarifies the right to use and the support entitlement for Oracle Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) when used as part of any other Oracle product.[2]


And (with Miro’s embellishment):

Oracle customers of Oracle products that use the Oracle JRE or Oracle JDK are entitled, without the need to separately purchase Oracle Java SE Subscriptions


It even provides some examples!

  1. And the third: Oracle is paving the way for alternatives. In a recent post, Gartner explained that:

The steep increase in Oracle licensing costs for the majority of Java users and the move to third-party providers would mean that by 2026, more than 80% of Java applications will be deployed on third-party Java runtimes, up from 65% in 2023…


Re-read that. Some 80% of Java applications will not be running Oracle Java in two (2) years or less!

There are many, many options out there for open-source Java. And if your IT security department or corporate policies dictate that open-source cannot be used, well, we have you covered as well.

Speaking of Oracle Java, many organizations have gone the route of updating to Oracle Java 17, which was introduced as a free-to-use (even for commercial applications) release. But did you know that this freedom currently only lasts through September 2024? That’s only five (5) months from now! And then you will have to upgrade to Java 21 – the new release that’s also free-to-use – or start paying.

You see, Oracle has committed to keep Java 17 free-to-use “… for at least one full year after the subsequent LTS version…” “LTS” means Long-Term Support whereby the support cycle is the familiar one whereas “non-LTS” releases live and die within just six (6) months. Both Java 17 and Java 21 (which became generally available in September 2023) are LTS releases.

The next LTS release will be Java 25 (which is due to become generally available in September 2025). And, if Java 21 follows in Java 17’s footsteps, it will be free-to-use until September 2026.

Contact Miro, your trusted software licensing advisor, for more information.

[1] Drawn directly from the price list dated February 1, 2024.

[2] Drawn directly from Oracle Document ID 1557737.1.

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