Java / Java licensing

Historical Java Licensing Strategies

Historical Java Licensing Strategies

  • Pre-2023:
    • License only necessary users.
    • Uninstall Java from unnecessary users.
    • Use physical and approved virtualization technologies for servers.
  • Post-2023:
    • Uninstall Java extensively to reduce costs.
    • Migrate to alternatives like OpenJDK.
    • Block Java downloads to prevent accidental installations.
    • Prepare for audits with detailed documentation and monitoring.

Introduction Historical Java Licensing Strategies

Introduction Historical Java Licensing Strategies

Managing Java licensing has been critical for businesses, particularly as Oracle’s licensing models have evolved.

This article explores the strategies businesses have historically used to manage Java licensing, from the pre-2023 Named User Plus and Processor models to the post-2023 Employee Metric model.

Pre-2023 Licensing Strategies

Pre-2023 Licensing Strategies

Named User Plus and Processor Licensing:

Before 2023, Oracle’s Java licensing was based on the Named User Plus (NUP) and Processor models. These models allowed businesses to license Java for specific users or processors, providing flexibility and cost control.

Named User Plus Licensing:

  • License Only Necessary Users: Businesses only need to license users who require Java for their work.
  • Uninstallation Strategy: Companies would uninstall Java from users who did not need it to manage costs. This ensured that only essential users were licensed, minimizing expenses.

Processor Licensing:

  • Physical and Virtualization Technologies: Companies used physical or approved virtualization technologies for servers to minimize the required licenses.
  • Optimization: By strategically deploying Java on specific servers and using virtualization, businesses could reduce the number of processors that needed to be licensed.

Cost Management:

  • Targeted Licensing: These strategies allowed businesses to focus their licensing efforts on areas where Java was necessary, avoiding unnecessary costs.
  • Regular Audits and Monitoring: Companies conducted regular audits to ensure compliance and optimize licensing.

Post-2023 Licensing Strategies

Post-2023 Licensing Strategies

Introduction of Employee Metric License:

In 2023, Oracle introduced the Employee Metric License, which required businesses to license all employees, regardless of their actual use of Java. This change significantly impacted how organizations managed their Java licensing.

Employee Metric Licensing:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Under the new model, businesses must license all employees, leading to higher costs and less flexibility.
  • Simplification with Increased Costs: While the licensing process was simplified, the cost implications were substantial, requiring new strategies to manage expenses.

New Strategies to Manage Costs:

  • Uninstallation Campaigns: Many businesses have ramped up efforts to uninstall Java from as many systems as possible. By reducing the number of installations, they aim to lower the overall licensing costs.
  • Migration to Alternatives: Companies are increasingly exploring alternatives to Oracle JDK, such as OpenJDK, which do not require the same licensing commitments.
  • Blocking Downloads: To prevent accidental installations that could trigger licensing requirements, businesses are implementing measures to block Java downloads across their networks.

Preparation for Audits:

  • Proactive Measures: With the higher costs and comprehensive licensing requirements, businesses are taking proactive measures to ensure compliance and avoid costly audits.
  • Documentation and Monitoring: Detailed documentation of Java usage and continuous monitoring help maintain compliance and prepare for potential Oracle audits.

Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis

Pre-2023 vs. Post-2023:

  • Flexibility vs. Simplicity: The pre-2023 models offered more flexibility in licensing specific users and processors, while the post-2023 model simplifies the process but increases costs.
  • Cost Management: Strategies pre-2023 focused on targeted licensing and uninstallation, whereas post-2023 strategies emphasize broad uninstallation and migration to alternative technologies.

Impact on Businesses:

  • Increased Financial Burden: The transition to the Employee Metric License has significantly increased licensing costs for most businesses.
  • Strategic Shifts: Companies are now more focused on reducing their dependency on Oracle JDK and exploring cost-effective alternatives.


Managing Java licensing has always required strategic planning and careful execution. Historically, businesses have used targeted licensing, uninstallation, and virtualization to manage costs effectively under the Named User Plus and Processor models.

However, introducing the Employee Metric License in 2023 has necessitated new strategies, including extensive uninstallation campaigns, blocking downloads, and migrating to alternatives like OpenJDK.

Understanding these historical and current strategies is essential for businesses to navigate the complexities of Java licensing and optimize their licensing costs.


  • 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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