The Release of Java 21: What This Means for Java Customers 

Tuesday, 26 September, 2023

Java 21 has marked its arrival with an array of new features aimed at enhancing the developer’s experience and performance of applications.

Java 21 Notable Features

  1. Virtual Threads: These are designed to make concurrent programming in Java more accessible and scalable.
  2. Generational Z Garbage Collector: This feature aims to improve the performance and efficiency of memory management within the Java runtime.
  3. String Templates: Introduced to complement Java’s existing string literals and text blocks, providing a new way to construct strings.
  4. Record Patterns and Sequenced Collections: These features further enrich the Java programming language, contributing to more efficient coding practices.

The release of Java 21 marks a significant step in the language’s evolution, offering developers a range of new tools and functionalities. However, with the release of Java 21, it’s important to be aware of how this affects the licensing timelines for previous Java versions.

Java 21 Key Points

  1. Java 21 Release:  JDK 21 was officially released and reached General Availability on 19 September 2023. 
  2. Long-Term Support (LTS) Indication: Java 21 has been designated as a LTS release, which means it will get support for at least 8 years.
  3. !IMPORTANT! License change on previous releases: as Java 21 is the current LTS, Java 17 is now “on the clock.”  As of 18 September 2024, Java 17 will no longer be under the Oracle No Fee Terms and Conditions, but it will switch to the Oracle Technology Network license which may require Java subscriptions for various commercial uses.

As a reminder, Oracle announced changes to the Java SE subscription pricing model on January 23, 2023. These changes to the Java licensing model are significant and have the potential to impact businesses financially. As per the new model, Oracle has shifted from the processor and named user plus license model to an employee-based licensing model, “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription. This change means that licensing costs are now based on the number of employees rather than the actual number of users of the product.

Gartner’s insights into this change highlight that Oracle’s licensing model for Java SE “can be dauntingly expensive,” causing many users to explore their options. This sentiment is echoed across the industry, with some describing the licensing changes as “too brutal for most,” necessitating a re-evaluation of Java strategies by businesses.

Actionable Items for Java Customers

1. Re-Evaluate Java Strategy: Given the changes, it’s vital for businesses to reassess their current Java usage and explore alternatives if the new model proves to be financially unfeasible.

2. Explore Options: Investigate other licensing options or Java SE providers to find a solution that aligns with your business needs and budget.

3. Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest news and updates from Oracle and the Java community to make informed decisions. 

4. Assess Usage: Evaluate the actual usage of Java within your organization and determine if the new licensing model is cost-effective.

5. Negotiate with Oracle: If Oracle Java SE remains integral to your operations, consider negotiating terms with Oracle to mitigate financial impact.

6. Consider Upgrading: If suitable, make the jump to Java 21 to leverage the new features and enhancements it offers

By carefully considering these actionable items, businesses can navigate through the changes, ensuring that they continue to benefit from Java’s capabilities while managing costs effectively.

If you have any questions about how the release of Java impacts your oragnizaiton, book a meeting with us for a free consultation.