Java is free for commercial use

At this year's "DOAG Conference + Exhibition" (German ORACLE user group), at which HiSolutions was represented as an exhibitor and with lectures, one topic was repeatedly taken up: "Oracle Java SE"(SE = Standard Edition).

The mood among the conversation partners was completely serene

"We have everything under control!"

up to a slight panic

"Java SE is licensed by processors like an Oracle database? I virtualized everything with VMware! ".

For many users, the topic is often too far away to form an opinion or even to identify the associated risks.

What is the current situation like?

After Java (SE and predecessor) had been made available by Oracle for almost free for any purpose for years, Oracle has now announced that a new release and support model will be introduced for Java SE from 2019 (with Oracle Java 11). Only the latest version of Java SE will then be free of charge for the private Usage provided with updates (this should also apply to a very limited extent to commercial development, testing, prototyping and demonstration). For commercial use, the use of all other versions and above all for the new "Long-Term Support" versions, a license with maintenance costs will be required in the future. B. Receive security updates. Until now, this was only necessary if the commercial features of Java SE were used.

How does this affect my organization?

Java is used by a large number of applications in the desktop and server environment. The components of the Oracle Java Standard Edition are often used for this purpose. In addition, the OpenSource variant OpenJDK or the paid variant from IBM (and others) can also be used. Many customers make the mistake of simply using Java SE that the commercial features are not deactivated. But even if attention is paid to the deactivation of these features, many applications in the corporate and government environment require a special version of Java SE and cannot be operated with the OpenJDK version without adjustments.

What are the challenges?

Due to the new release and support model, customers will have to switch to the latest Java version very quickly or use a "long-term support" version. The latest version with its future semi-annual updates (without transition period) would thus determine the release cycles of your own applications. However, many applications are updated far less frequently and can only work with certain Java versions. If the applications used do not support the OpenJDK, this will mean that licenses and the corresponding maintenance will have to be purchased. Due to the fact that it is currently still free of charge, very few users of Java SE have a precise overview of how and in what context Java is used. The need for new Java licenses will lead to a drastic increase in the cost of operating applications based on Oracle Java SE, especially since the risks known from Oracle databases in the context of the use of virtualization technologies (e.g. VMware). In addition, Oracle is known for vigorously representing its own interests and for auditing its customers on a regular basis. It is therefore only a matter of time before Oracle will take up the issue of Java SE in the form of audits.

Proposal for the procedure - Carry out your risk analysis promptly!

Shortly after the official announcement by Oracle, the topic was also taken up in a longer article on this blog. HiSolutions consultants have meanwhile helped many customers to determine their situation and to initiate the necessary measures (e.g. switch to OpenJDK). As part of this Java risk analysis, a procedure was developed that can be used by any organization or its responsible persons. The procedure is divided into 3 steps:

  1. Get an overview of the upcoming changes to Oracle Java SE licensing and
  2. Assess the impact through analysis
    1. the technical integration of Oracle Java SE technology and other Java technologies (architecture blueprints, listing of all Java-based applications, etc.),
    2. the existing contracts, which may have licensed Oracle Java SE (IBM Websphere, Oracle WebLogic, SAP Netweaver, etc.) as well as the other license conditions in the context of in-house developments and purchased Java applications,
    3. the necessary organizational prerequisites and requirements (development cycles, architecture, system operation, etc.) and
  3. Comparison of the alternative courses of action, evaluation and summary of these in a decision template for the management

Following the analysis, the evaluation and the decision by the customer, we accompany them in the implementation of the analysis (for example in negotiations with Oracle) or the switch to alternative technologies.

These points can also be found again on our product sheet for Java risk analysis.

Johannes Ubrig

Audit Defense expert

Contributions by the author

29th November 2018

General, audit, licensing, trends

Commercial Features, Feature Release, Java 11, Java 8, Java BCLA, Java FX, Java SE, Java SE 8, Java SE Advanced, Java SE Advanced Desktop, Java SE Suite, Java Licensing, Java Subscription, JDK, License Management, OpenJDK, Oracle, Oracle Java SE, Oracle Java Standard Edition, Oracle LMS Java, Oracle Licensing, OracleJDK, Roadmap for Java SE Support, independent Oracle licensing advice