Inflation is increasing the cost of living and doing business around the world. The latest item to increase in price appears to be an Oracle Java SE subscription.
Java is among the most popular programming languages in the world and is available in a number of ways. The most recent release of the language — Java 19 — came out in September 2022. Java 19 boasts new features designed to improve performance.
Developers and organizations can choose to use the open source version of Java known as OpenJDK for free without support or get support via a commercial vendor. Oracle, a leader of the Java community, provides a fully supported and maintained version, known as Java SE, which carries a subscription cost for organizations.
Oracle published its latest public pricing list for its Java SE subscriptions on Jan. 23. Among the big changes is the replacement of the prior Java SE subscription options with a new Java SE Universal subscription plan. According to an Oracle FAQ, "the Java SE Universal Subscription is a simple, low-cost monthly subscription that includes Java SE Licensing and Support for use on Desktops, Servers or Cloud deployments." A potential implication of the new licensing option is that it will cost more for organizations to license Java SE in 2023 than it did in prior years.
Oracle did not respond to a request for comment from ITPro Today by press time.
Industry Responses to Oracle Java Price Hike Are Harsh
Jason Clark, principal software engineer at observability vendor New Relic, wasn't surprised by Oracle's Java licensing changes.
"Oracle previously altered their licensing in expensive ways with the release of Java 11," Clark told ITPro Today.
Java 11 was released in 2018 as a Long Term Support (LTS) update and has Oracle premier support until September 2023. Clark noted that findings from the New Relic 2022 State of the Java Ecosystem Report showed that prior rounds of licensing changes only served to strengthen the movement away from Oracle's distributions to other OpenJDK vendors.
"It will be interesting to see whether these new terms stick and how much further things will shift off of Oracle's distributions," Clark said.
OpenJDK Remains Unaffected by Oracle Java Price Hikes
Vendors that compete with Oracle and offer their own supported OpenJDK options could well be the net benefactors of any price changes.
One such vendor is Red Hat, which is an active contributor to the open source OpenJDK community. A Red Hat spokesperson told ITPro Today that he would encourage users to consider OpenJDK as an alternative to Oracle Java SE if they're looking.
Scott Sellers, CEO of Java platform vendor Azul, also sees potential opportunity for his firm as a result of Oracle's changes.
"This is the fourth licensing/pricing change for Oracle Java in the past four years," Sellers told ITPro Today.
According to Sellers, the new Java SE subscription model can be more expensive, perhaps by as much as three times, for typical enterprises.
"Third-party Java runtimes based on OpenJDK, such as those provided by Azul, are already rapidly increasing in popularity prior to this change," Sellers said. "We see this trend accelerating as customers become frustrated with the uncertainty around Oracle's frequent pricing changes."