The Impact and Solution to the 2019 Oracle Java Licensing Changes

Wednesday, 1 May, 2019


In a decisive move that sent shockwaves through the software industry, Oracle overhauled its licensing terms for Java Standard Edition (Java SE), effective from April 16, 2019. This groundbreaking shift has led to significant financial ramifications for organizations that have traditionally deployed Java SE without incurring any license fees. In this comprehensive article, we will break down the changes Oracle made to Java licensing in 2019, assess their financial impact on businesses, and propose alternative solutions and strategies for mitigating these costs.

A Comparative Analysis: Old vs. New Oracle Technology Network License for Oracle Java SE

The Old License Model

In the era preceding April 2019, Oracle’s Java licensing was a paradigm of flexibility. Businesses and individual users alike could freely deploy Java SE for a wide range of uses, including but not limited to, development, testing, and even some commercial scenarios.

The New License Model

Contrast that with the new Oracle Technology Network License for Oracle Java SE. While the new license still allows certain uses like personal and development to continue without incurring costs, it draws a hard line when it comes to commercial deployment. The moment you step into the realm of commercial use, costs kick in.

Key Changes

  1. Commercial Use: Now requires an annual subscription.
  2. Subscription Cost: Java SE subscription priced at $300 per year per processor; Java SE Desktop subscription at $30 per year per desktop.
  3. Limited Free Use: Only applicable for personal and developmental purposes.

By understanding these changes in Oracle Java license cost and their respective limitations, organizations can better prepare for what lies ahead.

The Java Subscription Imperative for Commercial Users

One of the most consequential changes is the mandatory annual Java subscription for commercial use. Here are some crucial aspects:

Cost Breakdown

  • Java SE Subscription: $300/year/processor
  • Java SE Desktop Subscription: $30/year/desktop

Metric/ScenarioPre-2019 (Per Year)Post-2019 (Per Year)Percentage Increase
Personal UseFreeFreeN/A
Development UseFreeFreeN/A
Commercial Use: Per ProcessorFree$300 per processor
Commercial Use: Per DesktopFree$30 per desktop


  • The prices for Commercial Use are now clearly outlined, requiring annual subscriptions for continued usage.
  • Personal and Development use remain free but are more clearly defined to exclude any form of commercial usage.
  • The post-2019 model explicitly asks for a fee for commercial use per processor or per desktop, impacting businesses that were using Java SE without incurring any costs before the change.

This table highlights that the Oracle Java license changes in 2019 marked a significant shift in how Java SE can be used in commercial settings, affecting the bottom line for many organizations.

Impact on Budgeting

This new rule has forced organizations to revisit and often increase their budget allocations. Failing to comply with the new terms could lead to legal complications and hamper business operations.

Real-world Example

Consider a mid-size enterprise that operates 100 processors and 200 desktops. Previously running on a free Java license, it would now need to allocate:

  • Processor Cost: 100 processors x $300 = $30,000/year
  • Desktop Cost: 200 desktops x $30 = $6,000/year
  • Total Annual Cost: $36,000/year

This real-world example illustrates the urgency for companies to rethink their budgeting strategies due to these Oracle Java licensing changes.

Why is This Especially Problematic?

  1. Scale of Deployment: For organizations that have used free Java subscriptions on a large scale, the costs have compounded exponentially.
  2. Locked-in Architecture: Many organizations have deeply integrated Java into their systems, making migration or replacement nearly impossible without significant operational disruptions.
  3. Unplanned Expenditure: Budgets had been set without accounting for Java subscription costs, leading to financial strain or necessitating cuts elsewhere.
  4. Legal Complications: Non-compliance isn’t an option. Failure to adhere to the new licensing terms can lead to legal repercussions.

The Wide-Ranging Business Impact of Oracle’s 2019 Java Licensing Changes

Organizations are now grappling with the economic consequences of this monumental change. These effects are especially significant for enterprises whose operations are deeply entrenched in Java-based applications.

  1. Operational Downtime: The transition could lead to downtime if the company is unprepared.
  2. Budget Reallocations: Unplanned expenditures for licenses might require cuts in other departments.
  3. Strategic Re-thinking: Businesses might need to reconsider their software architecture and look for alternatives to Java SE.
oracle java price list

Straining Customer Relations

Many long-standing Oracle customers feel blindsided by the change, questioning the fairness of Oracle’s new pricing and its timing. This sentiment of betrayal can jeopardize Oracle’s customer relations in the long term, possibly pushing loyal customers to explore alternative platforms.

Resources for Navigating the Oracle Java License Changes

  1. Oracle Java SE Subscription Global Price List
  2. Oracle Java SE Support Roadmap
  3. Oracle Java Licensing Timeline of Changes
  4. Oracle Java Solutions and Alternatives

These resources can offer critical insights and help organizations better navigate the new Java licensing landscape.

Coping Strategies and Alternative Solutions

While Oracle’s Java licensing changes in 2019 are final, your organization has several coping mechanisms and alternative solutions:

  1. OpenJDK: An open-source alternative that can be used in various settings.
  2. AdoptOpenJDK: Provides prebuilt OpenJDK binaries and is a good option for commercial usage.
  3. GraalVM: An alternative high-performance runtime that offers support for various languages.
  4. Budget Reallocations: Companies can adjust their budget priorities to accommodate the new licensing costs.
  5. Comprehensive Audit: Perform a complete audit of your Java usage to determine if there are any unnecessary deployments.
  6. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Evaluate if the value derived from continuing with Oracle Java SE outweighs the new subscription costs.
  7. Negotiate: Try to negotiate volume discounts or transitional terms with Oracle, especially if you are a large-scale user.


The 2019 Oracle Java licensing changes have far-reaching financial implications for businesses across the board. While organizations are in a position to revamp their budgeting strategies, they do have options. By understanding the intricacies of Oracle’s new licensing terms and by exploring alternatives like OpenJDK and GraalVM, they can still successfully navigate through this complex landscape. In doing so, businesses can continue to leverage Java SE in a manner that aligns with their financial capabilities and operational requirements.

Learn more about how LicenseFortress is helping customers address the Oracle Java license changes.