Oracle-Java; Determine the impact before you act!

If you were using Java SE with the use of commercial features, and/or JAVA versions that have NO public updates anymore, a license was probably already required. That did not change, but what did?

TIP #1 June 2019: The changes Oracle made in Java licensing might have a big impact - what should you do?

Change in release cadence

Some background on how Java is managed:

  • Java is managed by the Java Community Process (JCP), which contains about 25 professional representatives from large companies such as RedHat, SAP, IBM, but also Alibaba, Credit Suisse and of course Oracle. This same JCP decided that a six-month release should be the standard, instead of a release every three years. 
  • The new six-months release cadence, contains every new public version with updates, security patches and bug fixes. With these releases you will constantly be up-to-date!
  • Oracle’s point of view however, is expressed in the way that Oracle has determined that for the 6-month cadence it is not feasible to arrange multi-year support.
  • Therefore, Oracle now offers a release every three years, meaning the current Java SE version 11, which is released in 2018. This is a Long Time Support version (LTS), which guarantees 8 years of (paid) support on that specific version.

This is the major change and has a big impact. What should you do?

  • You should determine this impact and also the upgrade path within your organization and define the ultimate upgrade path:
  • Of course it is still possible to update Java software every 6 months, but this requires a strict planning and developers, being able to keep the different software (sometimes in-house developed), to still run on the new versions. 
  • For most of the organisations, this is not a realistic possibility. Continuous migration is a lot of effort. Migrating applications from older, unsupported Java versions to newer versions, requires development resources and requires a lot of testing.
  • However, it still does make sense to track (and test) all the available releases for being able to anticipate on the contents of the next LTS release and determine the impact and upgrade path. 
  • A lot of applications are not directly suitable for running on the newest version of Java. 

So, you should make a decision between:

  • Upgrading every six months, OR buying (Subscription) Licenses for a LTS version.
  • As constantly upgrading looks not-doable, you probably need consider the license implications.