Recently, The Register posted the article "Oracle finally targets Java non-payers — six years after plucking Sun." With a subheadline of "Thought Java was 'free'? Think again (and you owe us $$$ in 2017)," I was certainly alerted from what I read — given that a large number of my former clients are running Java SE on their development workstations.
As I read through the article, I wondered just how true this article really is.
Highlights From the Article
The article from The Register talks about Oracle spinning up their License Management Services (LMS) division focused on "chasing down people for payment." The article cited a Java customer with 80,000 PCs and how they owed Oracle as much as $100,000 for unpaid Java licenses.
The article stated that even partners of the Java software are not out of reach from the LMS group because of the false perception that Java is free.
Next, the licensing levels are mentioned, ranging from $40 to $300 per user or $15,000 per processor.
Finally, there is talk about auditing your use of Java SE to make sure you are only downloading and installing what you need to use. Of course, there is one more mention of the LMS coming your way in 2017.
My Quick Research
The first thing I decided to do was to go to Oracle's website and look at the Java SE page. My hope was that I could find an "add to cart" button that would allow me to buy a license to make sure the License Management Services (LMS) division didn't come looking for me. Here is a screenshot of what I found:
No luck, just links to download the product. Like I have always remembered seeing, even back in the Sun days.
I noticed that Oracle has an online store, so I thought I would search for Java SE. Surely, this would get me to where I could add something to my cart. Here are my results from searching for "java se"
I found some "Buy Now" buttons, one for Oracle Java SE support and the other for Oracle Java SE Advanced.
As I read the information for Java SE Advanced, I thought I had found what I needed to purchase. However, upon clicking through the link, I was taken to the following screen:
This doesn't look like what I was wanting to license. It looked like Java SE, plus a bunch more things bundled in ... perhaps an "Advanced" version. What complicates things more is that I was forced to order a minimum of 500 seats (or 2 Processors) for my order. Each translates to a minimum order of $10,000 for one year.
I pulled my search to a higher level and searched Google for "buy java se license" which provided a link to the Java SE Overview — General FAQs page. The question "Is Java still free?" yielded the following information:
The current version of Java — Java SE 8 — is free and available for redistribution for general purpose computing. Java SE continues to be available under the Oracle Binary Code License (BCL) free of charge. JRE use for embedded devices and other computing environments may require a license fee from Oracle. Read more about embedded use of Java SE or contact your local Oracle sales representative to obtain a license.
Okay... I felt better about reading embedded devices, but then Oracle added "... and other computing environments" in their response. So, going to this link displayed the following screenshot:
At this point, I took a deep breath, since this is a distribution of Java that I was not familiar with at this point.
First and foremost, I am not an expert at software licensing. It appears that the article referenced may be the result of the LMS division at Oracle going after unlicensed usage of the Java SE embedded product. One of the customers noted in the article was in the retail industry. So perhaps these PCs could have been cash register devices (or something as such), which utilized the embedded Java edition for proprietary use? Just a guess.
Given that many of my former clients are running Java SE, I read this article expecting some type of action to be required. The kind of action that blows up budgets for the next calendar year — which were finalized months ago in most cases. As far as I can tell (again, not an expert on software licensing), my clients do not appear to be impacted by this article.
My team has been successful in moving toward OpenJDK, which I wrote about earlier this year on DZone.com. So, if your team is worried about the Oracle Java SE license and their (scary?) LMS division, you might consider using OpenJDK as well.
I am certainly interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.
Have a really great day!