Impact of Oracle on Java Development

Impact of Oracle on Java Development

  • 2019 Licensing Change: The shift to a subscription-based model increased business costs.
  • Migration to Alternatives: Rise of OpenJDK and other JDK providers like Amazon Corretto and Azul Zulu.
  • Diverse Ecosystem: More JDK options led to more innovation and competition.
  • Ongoing Evolution: Oracle continues to invest in Java SE and OpenJDK.

Introduction Oracle on Java Development

Introduction Oracle on Java Development

Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010 marked a pivotal moment in Java’s history.

Since then, Oracle has implemented several policies that have significantly influenced Java’s development, especially the shift to a subscription-based model in 2019.

This article explores how Oracle’s policies have shaped Java’s development and the broader ecosystem.

Shift to Subscription-Based Licensing

Shift to Subscription-Based Licensing

2019 Licensing Changes:

In 2019, Oracle introduced a major change to Java’s licensing model, moving from perpetual licenses to subscription-based ones. This shift had far-reaching implications:

  • End of Free Updates: Oracle stopped providing free public updates for commercial users of Java SE 8 and required a paid subscription to access updates and support.
  • Subscription Model: Businesses need to pay ongoing fees based on Named User Plus (NUP) or processor metrics to receive updates and support for Oracle JDK.

Impact on Businesses:

  • Increased Costs: The transition to a subscription model increased costs for businesses that relied on Oracle JDK for their applications. This was a significant change from the previous model, where updates were freely available.
  • Budget Adjustments: Companies had to adjust their budgets to accommodate the recurring subscription fees, which could vary based on the number of users or processors.

Migration to OpenJDK and Alternatives

Migration to OpenJDK and Alternatives

Rise of OpenJDK:

In response to the new licensing costs, many organizations began to explore alternatives to Oracle JDK. OpenJDK emerged as a popular choice due to its open-source nature and compatibility with Oracle JDK:

  • Free and Open-Source: OpenJDK is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL) with a Classpath Exception, making it a cost-effective alternative.
  • Compatibility: OpenJDK is the reference implementation of the Java SE standard, ensuring compatibility with Oracle JDK in most use cases.

Adoption of Alternative JDK Providers:

Several vendors started offering their builds of OpenJDK, providing support and additional features:

  • AdoptOpenJDK: A popular distribution supported by a community of developers and organizations.
  • Amazon Corretto: Amazon’s no-cost, multiplatform, production-ready distribution of OpenJDK.
  • Azul Zulu: A commercially supported build of OpenJDK from Azul Systems.

Impact on Java Ecosystem:

  • Diverse Ecosystem: The rise of alternative JDK providers has led to a more diverse ecosystem. Businesses can choose from various JDK distributions based on their specific needs and support requirements.
  • Innovation and Competition: Increased competition among JDK providers has spurred innovation, improving performance, security features, and support options.

Influence on Java Development

Influence on Java Development

Continued Evolution:

Despite the licensing changes, Oracle has continued to invest in Java’s development, driving innovation and new features:

  • Java SE Releases: Oracle has maintained a regular release cadence for Java SE, introducing new features, performance enhancements, and security improvements.
  • Long-Term Support (LTS) Releases: Oracle provides long-term support for specific Java SE releases, ensuring that enterprises have a stable, supported platform for their applications.

OpenJDK Contributions:

Oracle remains a major contributor to the OpenJDK project, collaborating with other stakeholders to advance the Java platform:

  • Collaborative Development: Contributions from Oracle and other companies have ensured that OpenJDK remains a robust and evolving platform.
  • Community Involvement: OpenJDK’s open-source nature allows for community involvement, fostering a collaborative environment for Java’s development.

Strategic Implications for Businesses

Strategic Implications for Businesses

Cost Management:

Businesses must strategically manage the costs associated with Java development and support:

  • Evaluating Options: Companies should evaluate the cost-benefit of using Oracle JDK versus alternative distributions like OpenJDK.
  • Subscription Planning: Effective budgeting and planning for subscription costs are crucial for those who choose Oracle JDK.

Compliance and Licensing:

Understanding and complying with Java licensing terms is essential to avoid legal and financial risks:

  • License Management: Implementing robust license management practices helps ensure compliance with Oracle’s licensing terms.
  • Auditing and Monitoring: Regular audits and monitoring of Java usage can prevent non-compliance and potential penalties.


Oracle’s policies have significantly impacted Java development, driving changes in licensing models and influencing the broader Java ecosystem.

While the shift to a subscription-based model in 2019 increased costs for many businesses, it also spurred the adoption of OpenJDK and alternative JDK providers.

This has led to a more diverse and competitive ecosystem, fostering innovation and providing businesses with various choices for their Java development needs.

As Oracle continues to invest in Java, the platform remains a critical component of enterprise IT strategies, evolving through collaborative efforts and community contributions.


  • 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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