By John R. Rymer and Jeffrey S. Hammond
This January, Oracle’s new support program for Oracle Java SE went into effect. The cost, security, and timing implications are proving to be a difficult adjustment for thousands of enterprises that rely on Java SE for critical applications. Thousands of independent software vendors that embed Oracle Java SE face the same issues, and their action (or lack thereof) has a direct impact on end customers, as well.
Our research indicates that many clients find themselves in an untenable situation that prevents either implementing a new support agreement for Oracle Java SE 8 or finding alternative sources of support based on OpenJDK. As of mid-January, we’ve found that:
- None of the clients we’ve spoken to have yet received formal contract proposals from Oracle outlining the cost for them to adopt the new Oracle Java SE Subscription. Several clients had received informal contract proposals; some had received no proposals at all. The informal proposals carry millions in additional unplanned costs, which creates a high level of oversight and interest at executive levels.
- One of the clients we spoke to had received notification from a major ISV that it would no longer take responsibility for ensuring Java support compliance within its solution even though the product has a critical dependency on Oracle Java SE; compliance thus becomes the customer’s responsibility. All other clients had yet to hear from their ISVs about their Java support policies going forward.
- All of the clients felt that the time between announcement of the new program and the deadline to implement it was too short to evaluate the likely cost and effort they face to retain Oracle support. The biggest issue is the size of the Java estates these clients run, much of which run on older Java SE versions and must now be brought up to date. With ISVs potentially punting on application support and with custom applications that aren’t under active development but need to be updated and tested, these clients feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
Under the best of circumstances, a technology base of Java’s size, age, and complexity can’t pivot within six months to new support structures carrying big potential additional costs. And enterprise Java customers are not operating under the best of circumstances. The good news is that there is still some time left for development shops to get their house in order. Although “End of Public Updates” for Java SE 8 was January 15, 2018, the first security patch for licensees isn’t due until April 2019. We expect that if a major security issue occurs between now and then, Oracle will make an update available under the old Java SE license terms. Here’s how to use that (brief) respite wisely:
- Set your long-term strategy now. Development shops have four options for a long-term Java support strategy. We’ve detailed them in this Forrester report.
- Push your ISVs for support transparency. Some vendors, such as Adobe, have done a good job of communicating their status to customers. Many have not. Sourcing professionals should spend the next two months pushing their strategic vendors for the sort of clarity that Adobe or Pivotal provide with respect to what versions of Java/OpenJDK/JVMs they support and test against.
- Allocate budget to modernize custom apps. As the cadence of Java releases accelerates, it will be hard for enterprises to update an app with Java dependencies and then forget about it for years until the next major release. A more regular process of testing and updating will benefit from build and release automation, so use this crisis as an opportunity to increase funding for DevOps processes and tools that will prevent a future recurrence.
The clock is ticking, and April looms. If you’re working through your Java support strategy and would like to share your intentions, please take 3 minutes and let us know what you are doing. Or, if you are an independent solutions vendor that depends on Java, please let us know how you are adjusting your strategy moving forward. Have an example of a good communication from an ISV about its strategy? We’d love to see it. And if you’d like to share your story and perspective with us, email us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.