Evolution of Java Licensing Models

Evolution of Java Licensing Models

  • Pre-2019: Perpetual licensing with Named User Plus (NUP) and Processor Licensing.
  • 2019: Shift to subscription-based licensing, discontinuing perpetual licenses; continued NUP and Processor Licensing within the subscription model.
  • 2023: Introduction of the Employee Metric License, covering all employees within an organization.

Early Licensing Models

Early Licensing Models

Perpetual Licensing:

In the early days, Java was licensed primarily through a perpetual model. This meant:

  • One-time purchase: Companies paid a single fee to use Java indefinitely.
  • No recurring costs: There were no ongoing fees for updates or support after the initial purchase.
  • Named User Plus (NUP) and Processor Licensing: Licenses were based on either the number of named users or the number of processors.

Named User Plus (NUP) and Processor Licensing:

  • Named User Plus: Licenses were issued per user, typically within an organization. This model suited businesses with a clear count of users accessing Java.
  • Processor Licensing: Licenses were issued based on the number of processors running Java. This model was beneficial for enterprises with large-scale deployments.

Changes in 2019

Shift to Subscription-Based Licensing:

In 2019, Oracle made significant changes to its Java licensing models, discontinuing perpetual licenses.

Key changes included:

  • End of Perpetual Licenses: Companies could no longer make a one-time purchase to use Java indefinitely.
  • Subscription Model: Java SE updates and support became available only through a subscription model.
  • Named User Plus and Processor Licensing Continued: These metrics remained but were now part of the subscription model, meaning businesses paid recurring fees.

Subscription Model:

  • Recurring Costs: Organizations began paying periodic fees for access to updates, patches, and support.
  • Flexibility and Support: The subscription model offered regular updates and comprehensive support, albeit at a recurring cost.

Introduction of Employee Metric License in 2023

Introduction of Employee Metric License in 2023

Employee Metric License:

In 2023, Oracle introduced a new licensing metric: the Employee Metric License. This marked another significant shift in how Java was licensed.

  • Company-Wide Licensing: The Employee Metric License covers all employees, regardless of their actual use of Java.
  • Simplified Management: This model simplifies licensing management by removing the need to track individual users or processors.
  • Broader Coverage: Ensures employees are licensed to use Java, promoting compliance and reducing audit risks.

Impact on Organizations

Impact on Organizations

Cost Implications:

The shift from perpetual to subscription-based licensing increased ongoing costs for many organizations. Businesses now needed to budget for annual or monthly fees, which could fluctuate based on the number of users or processors.

Compliance and Audits:

With the introduction of the Employee Metric License, organizations faced new compliance requirements. This model reduced the complexity of tracking individual users but required accurate reporting of total employee counts to ensure proper licensing.

Strategic Considerations

Strategic Considerations

Adapting to Changes:

Organizations needed to adapt their strategies to accommodate these licensing changes. Key considerations included:

  • Budgeting for Subscriptions: Transitioning from one-time purchases to ongoing subscription fees required careful financial planning.
  • Evaluating Employee Metric Impact: Assessing how the Employee Metric License affected overall licensing costs and compliance efforts.
  • Exploring Alternatives: Considering alternatives like OpenJDK for cost-effective and flexible solutions.


The evolution of Java licensing models reflects Oracle’s ongoing efforts to align its licensing strategies with modern software usage patterns and enterprise needs.

From perpetual licenses to subscription-based models and the introduction of the Employee Metric License, these changes have significantly impacted how organizations manage and budget for their Java deployments.

By understanding and adapting to these changes, businesses can ensure compliance, optimize costs, and continue to leverage Java’s robust capabilities effectively.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, improving organizational efficiency.

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