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Navigating the tumultuous waves of Oracle Java pricing and licensing changes
Tue, 26th Mar 2024

Nearly three decades since its introduction, Java continues to be the linchpin on which many modern enterprises run.  

Among the vast expanse of digital ecosystems that exist today, Java stands as a foundational rock and programming language of choice for many. It has evolved from a programming language to a robust platform that powers everything from mobile apps to data centres. Its open-source nature and extensive toolkit continue to make it the architect's preferred framework for constructing even the most elaborate software structures. 

According to the Azul State of Java Survey and Report, which examined how 2000 businesses use Java today, 98 per cent use it in their software applications or infrastructure. Additionally, 57 per cent of those surveyed said Java is the backbone of most of their applications. These statistics, when combined with factoring in how organisations utilise Java in various capacities, illustrates the instrumental role it plays in the modern enterprise. This penetration of Java is not purely due to habit or historical adoption; it is a testament to the enduring value proposition that it offers in terms of unparalleled support for scalable, diverse, and mission-critical applications. 

The Oracle Predicament 

However, the recent series of licensing and price changes for the popular Java runtime and support subscription, Oracle SE, has raised concerns across the Java community. The crux of the discord lies in the shift from usage-based payment models to a per-employee cost structure, potentially multiplying costs for organisations that previously benefited from metered billing. A bitter pill to swallow, especially when considering the tangible impact on the operational budget - a surge that could range from twofold to quintuple, as reported by affected parties.  

Java’s prevalence implies that these changes carry financial and operational implications that could reverberate at every level. As a result, many enterprises enmeshed in the fabric of Oracle’s Java ecosystem now find themselves fervently exploring alternative distribution channels necessitated by these unexpected and unwelcome financial demands. 

After the fourth major licensing or pricing change in four years, it was no surprise in our Azul State of Java Survey and Report that more than 8 out of 10 companies using Oracle Java said they are concerned about the new pricing.  

The Transition to OpenJDK Distributions 

Enterprises contemplating the move away from Oracle must consider the strategic migration to OpenJDK distributions. The promise of drastic cost reduction and the kindred spirit of open-source ideology appeal, as illustrated by The University of Sydney, who made the switch and reported substantial cost savings and greater ease of doing business. 

But the transitional journey is not devoid of challenges. The migration to OpenJDK must be orchestrated with precision, encompassing a threefold approach that involves discovery, execution, and validation phases. 

Discovery: 

Thorough examination and cataloguing of the existing Java estate is indispensable. A comprehensive inventory, derived from an elaborate analysis of applications and deployment environments, paves the way for an informed and tailored migration strategy. 

Execution: 

The installation of appropriate OpenJDK versions across the designated machinery and configuration adjustments to ensure seamless integration form the crux of the execution phase. Like-for-like substitutions are the modus operandi, and meticulous detail is essential to orchestrate a harmonious coexistence between Java versions. 

Validation: 

The litmus test of validation is necessary to ascertain that the transition has not compromised the functionality, performance, or operational integrity of the enterprise’s applications. A robust validation process involving methodical testing and real-world simulations lends credence to the migration effort, assuring that the new Java framework is as steadfast as its predecessor. 

Azul prides itself on 100% customer satisfaction in its customer support surveys and 100% migration success off Oracle Java through the support and expertise that both Azul and its channel partners provide new customers. 

A Focused Future with Java 

While the Java community grapples with these shifts, enterprises' focus remains on fortifying their Java estates. Java, in all its iterations, remains a strategic asset that, when managed diligently, serves as a vanguard of innovation and competitive advantage. 

Despite pricing models and licensing jolts, the future of Java within enterprises is undeniably secure. Enterprises that adapt to the changes, using alternative distributions and cementing robust frameworks, epitomise the shared ethos of resilience and foresight. By aligning with Java's original spirit of endurance and adaptability, businesses can continue to maintain a competitive edge. 

To learn more about how to successfully migrate, check out OpenJDK Migration for Dummies.