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Licensing Models for Java SE and the Costs

Licensing Models for Java SE

  • Perpetual Licensing (Pre-2019):
    • One-time payment.
    • Indefinite use.
    • Separate support agreements.
  • Subscription-Based Licensing (2019):
    • Named User Plus: $1.75/user/month.
    • Processor Licensing: $20/processor/month.
    • Recurring fees, bundled support.
  • Employee Metric License (2023):
    • $15/employee/month.
    • Comprehensive coverage.
    • Simplified compliance, higher costs.

Introduction Licensing Models for Java SE

Java SE (Standard Edition) is a crucial platform for developing and running various applications. Understanding the various licensing models available for Java SE is essential for businesses to manage costs, ensure compliance, and optimize their software usage.

This article explains the different licensing models for Java SE, highlighting their features, costs, and implications.

Perpetual Licensing (Pre-2019)

Perpetual Licensing (Pre-2019)


Before 2019, Java SE was primarily licensed through a perpetual model. This model allowed businesses to make a one-time purchase, granting them the right to use the software indefinitely.

Key Features:

  • One-Time Payment: Businesses pay a single fee to use Java SE without recurring costs.
  • Indefinite Use: The license did not expire, allowing continued use as long as the software was needed.
  • Separate Support Agreements: Updates, patches, and support often require separate agreements.


  • Initial High Costs: Significant upfront investment but no ongoing subscription fees.
  • Predictable Budgeting: It is easier to forecast costs without recurring expenses.
  • Additional Costs for Support: Separate agreements for updates and support added to the overall cost.

Subscription-Based Licensing (2019)

Subscription-Based Licensing (2019)

Transition to Subscription Model:

In 2019, Oracle transitioned Java SE to a subscription-based licensing model, replacing the perpetual licenses. This move introduced regular, recurring fees for using Java SE.

Key Features:

  • Recurring Fees: Monthly or annual payments based on the number of users or processors.
  • Support: Access to updates, security patches, and support is bundled with the subscription.
  • Flexibility: Allows businesses to scale their usage and costs based on actual needs.

Subscription Options:

  • Named User Plus (NUP):
    • Cost: $1.75 per named user per month.
    • Usage: Suitable for environments where the number of individual users can be tracked accurately.
  • Processor Licensing:
    • Cost: $20 per processor per month.
    • Usage: Ideal for scenarios where tracking individual users is impractical, focusing on the processing power utilized.


  • Ongoing Costs: Recurring fees increase overall expenses compared to perpetual licenses.
  • Bundled Support: Simplifies access to updates and support, ensuring systems are up-to-date.
  • Scalability: It is easier to adjust the number of licenses based on changing needs.

Employee Metric License (2023)

Employee Metric License (2023)

Introduction of Employee Metric License:

In 2023, Oracle introduced the Employee Metric License, a significant change that aimed to simplify the licensing process and ensure comprehensive coverage.

Key Features:

  • Cost: $15 per employee per month.
  • Comprehensive Licensing: Requires licensing for all employees, regardless of individual usage.
  • Simplified Compliance: Reduces administrative overhead by removing the need to track individual user licenses.


  • Higher Costs: Significantly increases licensing expenses, especially for large organizations.
  • Simplified Management: Managing and ensuring compliance is easier, as all employees are covered.
  • Reduced Flexibility: All employees must be licensed, leading to higher costs even if not all employees use Java SE.

Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis

Cost Comparison:

  • Perpetual Licensing:
    • Pros: One-time cost, predictable budgeting, no recurring fees.
    • Cons: High initial investment, separate support agreements.
  • Subscription-Based Licensing:
    • Pros: Bundled support, scalable, predictable recurring costs.
    • Cons: Ongoing fees and potentially higher long-term costs.
  • Employee Metric License:
    • Pros: Simplified compliance, comprehensive coverage.
    • Cons: High costs for large organizations, less flexibility in licensing individual users.

Strategic Considerations:

  • Budgeting: Businesses must account for the recurring nature of subscription and employee metric licenses.
  • Compliance: Simplified management under the employee metric model can reduce non-compliance risk.
  • Scalability: Subscription models offer greater flexibility to scale up or down based on usage needs.


Understanding the different licensing models for Java SE is crucial for businesses to make informed decisions that align with their budget and operational needs.

Each model offers distinct advantages and challenges, from the traditional perpetual licensing model to the modern subscription-based and employee metric licenses.

By carefully considering these options, organizations can optimize their Java SE usage, manage costs effectively, and ensure compliance with Oracle’s licensing requirements.


  • 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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