Java Licensing: Getting to the Bottom of Oracle’s Changes
Recently there has been a lot of speculation on the web about the implications of the change in Java licensing, both in the release of version 11 and with past versions, come January 2019. What this blog post aims to do is get to the facts of the matter and reveal the truth, as well as advising on the best steps for you and your organisation.
For most, panic has set in upon hearing that version 8 will be charged for in the new year. But to better understand the impact of the move from free updates/ patches to paid support for version 8, we need to first look at the change in licensing when version 11 was recently released.
Oracle Java SE v11 has seen the switch from the Oracle Binary Code License Agreement (BCLA) to the open source GNU General Public License v2, with the Classpath Exception (GPLv2+CPE), and under a commercial license for those using the Oracle JDK as part of an Oracle product or service, or who do not wish to use open source software.
What this means for most organisations is that they’ll see a switch from software that received free patching and updates to software where support and updates must be paid for.
To better understand the impact on Java licensing when moving to version 11, we must assess what offerings are available.
There are two JDK builds.
Oracle JDK – For use in dev and test for free. In production there is a cost. Essentially, this is the commercial licence, mentioned above.
Oracle OpenJDK – Functionally the same as the above, but free to use in any environment. This falls under the GPL licence.
The commercial JDK will be updated and supported. Open JDK won’t be supported on past versions, so 9 and 10 will need to be updated (please also note that neither 9 or 10 were Long Term Support releases). Oracle support for OpenJDK is not offered beyond six months after release. However, there are other vendors out there who may offer support on 9, 10, and 11, beyond six months.
Future Releases of Java
Every six months a new version will be released and as soon as that comes out, the previous version will no longer be supported. Furthermore, every three years a release of Java will be designated as Long Term Support (LTS), the first of which is version 11. Businesses who want to retain OracleJDK will most likely want to be on an LTS to prevent constant upgrades.
Many businesses currently operate with Java 8. Typically, this will be in the form of the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) seen on most laptops and desktops. What these are used for, is for businesses to determine. Many will find this task difficult as Java is something that’s ‘always just been there’. It may be that it’s not needed at all, or it’s being used to support web-based applications. However, to update or support this beyond January 2019, businesses will need to pay for support, which they can get until 2022.
So, what do customers need to do about all this? The answer is certainly, ‘something’. Java 8 beyond January will pose a security risk if it’s not under support, so the likelihood is that it will need to be upgraded or removed. If it’s to be removed, organisations will need to look to their IT department and developers to define what Java is being used for. They will also need to provide assistance on what to move to if it’s still required. Most organisations, should they find that Java is required, will want to look at the alternatives mentioned in the link above, as even if paid support is found to be the best solution they will find many cheaper providers than Oracle.
Furthermore, there will be a number of third-party vendors that will need to look into what Java edition and version their applications are using. Many may start to roll out or recommend OpenJDK.
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