Oracle Customers, Get Ready for a Spike in Java License Audits (Again)

March 18, 2022
Audit IT Oracle

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As we rapidly approach the end of Oracle’s fiscal year (May 31st), many customers may find themselves on the receiving end of a Java license audit. There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of Oracle account teams to increase pressure on clients regarding their use of Java. Some tactics border on bullying, such as exaggerated claims that pressure the customer to purchase “requisite” SE subscriptions or face a full-blown audit from Oracle’s LMS organization.

While few formal audits have been reported to date, the threat is real. Customers are often unclear about which Java versions are considered “free” versus licenses requiring a subscription. When clients read the small print and take a moment to ask themselves a few targeted questions, they quickly realize the vast majority, if not all, of their deployed Java requires subscriptions.

Are You at Risk for a Java License Audit?

It’s easy for Oracle customers to fall into noncompliance territory. Java users find themselves especially at risk. There have been multiple changes to Java licensing in recent years and that’s made it tough for customers discern if they need to purchase licenses. Recent changes include the discontinuation of public updates for Java SE 8, the introduction of subscription-based licensing for Java offerings, and the phasing out of perpetual licenses on all new purchases.

Oracle is also known for not playing well with others in the IT ecosystem on the compliance front. Thanks to an onerous partitioning policy, the vendor requires additional licenses for certain technologies to run its software.

To determine if you are at obvious risk for a Java license audit, consider the following questions:

  • Do you utilize Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI)?
  • Have you applied Java patches in the past 15 to 18 months?
  • Do you utilize auto-updates?
  • Do you believe you qualify for General Use as defined by Oracle?
  • Do you currently utilize VMware?

A “yes” to one or more of these questions indicates the vast majority of Java in the environment requires SE subscriptions. Think a move to Java 17 makes you safe? Think again. It only postpones the impact of SE subscription for 12 months after the next CTS release.

Before a Java License Audit, Assess and Prepare

Customers can get in front of an Oracle Java license audit by assessing actual deployment and preparing for negotiations. Effective preparation requires measurement of deployed Java versions in the server environment (including Linux and Windows Server) to determine processor count and all workstations to determine Named User Plus (NUP) count.

Once this data has been assembled and Oracle’s criteria and/or conditions have been applied, a detailed picture of SE Subscription level will emerge. Note – if this is something you are unable to do in-house, NPI can help you perform these Java license assessments.

Fortunately, negotiations with Oracle Java account teams to date have been based on estimates, forecast and projections with little substantial detail to support their position (unlike the detail produced by Oracle’s LMS script on database and middleware). Organizations that have taken the time to engage independent Oracle/Java licensing experts to assess their potential Java SE Subscription exposure enjoy two very important outcomes:

  1. A true, actual SE Subscription level by NUP & Processor count is identified. This guides the organization to determine remediation and/or clean-up opportunities to establish greater environment efficiency and reduce any required SE Subscription levels.
  2. An organization is in a far better position to challenge Oracle’s assertions based upon deep insight into their environment and drive to a successful outcome.

Now, back to timing. Fiscal year-end pressures are driving Oracle to find ways to extract more revenue per customer (especially for those with expiring agreements). Now is the time to assess your Java environment for noncompliance and remediate on your terms – not Oracle’s!

Interested in learning more about NPI’s Oracle/Java License Position Assessment services? Let us know.