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Oracle goes on hunt for Java non-compliance

Non-Oracle organisations warned to check if they comply with Java SE licensing after Oracle introduces radical changes

Analyst Gartner has warned that new changes to Java licensing has meant Oracle will actively target organisations, even those who do not run any Oracle products, on Java compliance.

Gartner reported that in the 12-month period leading up to 31 December 2022, 52% of the Oracle software compliance and audit-related interactions focused on Oracle Java. This is set to become more of an issue in 2023 following some recent licensing changes.

In 23 January 2023, Oracle introduced changes to Java SE licensing. Unlike the previous Java SE licence, which was measured either per named user or per processor basis, the new subscription includes usage across desktops, servers and third-party cloud deployments.

Gartner pointed out that the new Oracle Java SE Universal Subscription means every person employed in an organisation where Java SE is deployed is counted for the purpose of the subscription. According to Gartner, in an organisation with 45,000 employees of which 40,000 are full-time, part-time and temporary staff, and 5,000 are agents, contractors and consultants, the company will require 45,000 licences. Assuming the 65% discount Oracle gives, this results in an annual bill of $2.8m.

The Java SE Universal Subscription fee starts at $15 per employee per month. While the Java SE Desktop Subscription started at $2.50 per named user or desktop per month and the Java SE Subscription started at $25 per processor per month, Gartner warned that the Java SE Universal Subscription fee starts at $15 per employee per month.

Companies with large numbers of employees where only a small proportion are licensed to use Java SE software may find their annual licence fee increase dramatically.

As an illustration of the price hike, Gartner said an organisation with the old Java SE licence to cover 19,000 named users would find that the new annual subscription fee is 117% more expensive.

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Looking at its Securities and Exchange Commission quarterly filing, Oracle reported an increase in its cloud services and licence support revenues of 14%, and a 16% increase in its cloud licence and on-premise licence revenues, adding $1.4bn to its revenue.

In a report exploring the implications of the licensing scheme, Gartner said: “According to Gartner client interactions, Oracle actively targets organisations – both existing Oracle customers and those with no Oracle products – on Java compliance, and deploys its global Java licensing team to enforce compliance.”

While Oracle states that the new Java SE Universal Subscription will remove the need to count desktops and servers, Gartner said it is not yet clear if this compliance-targeting will decrease.

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