Oracle has again changed licensing rules for its widely used Java product. On January 23, 2023, the company introduced a new license metric, the SE Universal Subscription. It offers all the benefits of the legacy Java SE subscription, plus universal use rights (desktop, server, and third-party cloud) and triage support for customers' entire Java portfolio, including third-party libraries and runtimes. When it comes to pricing, things get complicated and, for some, much more expensive.
SE Universal pricing is based on company headcount. This eliminates the need to count processors or named users but, for organizations with only a few Java users, considerable increase in costs. That's because the new metric includes all employees who support business operations. A company of 1,000 employees with 40 to 50 SE Universal users must now pay license for 1,000 users, not 40 to 50.
Organizations may be able to stay on existing contracts, but there are caveats. For sure, net new deals will be for the SE Universal Subscription. Existing agreements may remain, but the situation will require investigation into what is being used, how, where, and under which agreement. Other options include switching to the Oracle No-Fee Terms and Conditions license or the OpenJDK license. You could also pay a third party for OpenJDK migration and support.
Before you make any changes, review your contracts, consumption, and options carefully. Shifting to Java SE Universal Subscription promises to eliminate the burden of tracking installations, but the cost may be steep. Start by considering how you can reliably measure employee headcount consistently over time. With a mix of older and newer licensing models in place, you'll need to manage complex obligations. Have your legal team review the agreements so that you'll be informed on your liability and obligations, such as if Oracle requests an audit or threatens to cancel an agreement.
You'll need to identify all Java installations and, if possible, the associated agreement. Plus, you'll want to be sure to enforce oversight on new Java installations. Now, as much as or possibly more than ever, pay attention and maintain good Oracle software asset management practices. Doing so could save you from a big unbudgeted licensing fee surprise.
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This article originally appeared on Forrester's Featured Blogs.