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Evolution of Java SE Licensing

Evolution of Java SE Licensing

  • Pre-2019: Perpetual licensing with one-time fees.
    • Named User Plus: Licenses based on individual users.
    • Processor Licensing: Licenses based on processors.
  • 2019: Shift to a subscription-based model.
    • NUP: $1.75/user/month.
    • Processor: $20/processor/month.
  • 2023: Introduction of Employee Metric License.
    • $15/employee/month.

Introduction Evolution of Java SE Licensing

The licensing model for Java SE (Standard Edition) has undergone significant changes. From perpetual licenses to subscription-based models and the recent introduction of the Employee Metric License, these changes have profoundly impacted how businesses manage their Java SE deployments.

This article traces the evolution of Java SE licensing, highlighting the major shifts and their implications.

Perpetual Licensing (Pre-2019)

Perpetual Licensing (Pre-2019)

Traditional Licensing Model:

Before 2019, Java SE was typically licensed through a perpetual model. This meant businesses could pay a one-time fee for a license, allowing indefinite use without recurring costs.

  • Named User Plus (NUP): Licenses were based on the number of named users who needed access to Java SE. This model was cost-effective for businesses with a clear count of users.
  • Processor Licensing: For servers and large-scale deployments, licenses were based on the number of processors. This allowed companies to manage costs by licensing only the necessary computing resources.

Shift to Subscription-Based Licensing (2019)

Shift to Subscription-Based Licensing (2019)

End of Perpetual Licenses:

In 2019, Oracle made a significant shift by discontinuing perpetual licenses for Java SE. This move ended the traditional one-time purchase model and introduced a recurring cost structure.

Subscription Model Introduction:

Oracle transitioned to a subscription-based licensing model, which included the following key components:

  • Named User Plus (NUP) Subscription: Businesses were required to pay a monthly fee of $1.75 per named user.
  • Processor Subscription: A monthly fee of $20 per processor was introduced for licensing servers and large-scale deployments.
  • Access to Updates and Support: The subscription model ensured that businesses received regular updates, security patches, and support services from Oracle.

Impact on Businesses:

  • Increased Costs: The shift to a subscription model led to higher ongoing costs for businesses compared to the one-time fees of the perpetual model.
  • Budget Adjustments: Companies had to adjust their budgeting practices to accommodate the recurring subscription fees.

Introduction of the Employee Metric License (2023)

Introduction of the Employee Metric License (2023)

Major Licensing Change:

In 2023, Oracle introduced the Employee Metric License, significantly changing the Java SE licensing model.

Employee Metric Licensing:

  • Cost: The new model charges $15 per monthly employee, regardless of whether all employees use Java SE.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: This model requires businesses to license all employees, simplifying compliance but significantly increasing costs.

Impact on Licensing Strategies:

  • Simplified Compliance: The Employee Metric License simplifies ensuring compliance with Oracle’s licensing terms by covering all employees.
  • Higher Costs: The comprehensive nature of the Employee Metric License has led to a substantial increase in costs for most organizations.

Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis

Cost Comparison:

To illustrate the cost implications, consider a company with 12,000 employees:

  • 2019 Model (NUP and Processor Licensing):
    • Named User Plus: $1.75 per user/month * 12,000 users = $21,000.
    • Processor Licensing: $20 per processor/month * 100 processors = $2,000 per month.
    • Total Annual Cost: $276,000.
  • 2023 Model (Employee Metric License):
    • Employee Metric License: $15 per employee/month * 12,000 employees = $180,000.
    • Total Annual Cost: $2,160,000.

Percentage Increase:

Percentage Increase=(New Price−Old PriceOld Price)×100Percentage Increase=(Old PriceNew Price−Old Price​)×100

Percentage Increase=(2,160,000−276,000276,000)×100Percentage Increase=(276,0002,160,000−276,000​)×100

Percentage Increase≈683%Percentage Increase≈683%

Strategic Adaptations

Strategic Adaptations

Adapting to New Models:

Businesses have had to adapt their strategies to manage the increased costs and compliance requirements under the new licensing models.

  • Uninstallation Campaigns: Many organizations have ramped up efforts to uninstall Java SE from systems that do not require it to reduce licensing costs.
  • Exploring Alternatives: Companies are increasingly considering alternatives to Oracle JDK, such as OpenJDK, to mitigate licensing expenses.
  • Blocking Downloads: Implementing measures to block Java downloads helps prevent accidental installations that could incur additional licensing fees.


The evolution of Java SE licensing from perpetual models to subscription-based licensing and the introduction of the Employee Metric License has significantly impacted businesses.

While the newer models simplify compliance and ensure comprehensive coverage, they also substantially increase costs.

Understanding these changes and their implications is crucial for businesses to navigate the complexities of Java SE licensing effectively. Organizations can manage their Java SE deployments by adapting their strategies and exploring cost-effective alternatives while optimizing costs and ensuring compliance.


  • 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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