Oracle per-employee Java pricing causes concern

Oracle per-employee Java pricing causes concern

New pricing plan for Java SE starts at $15 per employee per month, and scales downward based on the number of users.

Published on 30th January 2023

Oracle’s 2023 per-employee pricing for standard Java is raising concerns about its potential impact on Java licensing costs for customers. The pricing is based on total employee counts, not the number of employees using Java.

Published January 23, Oracle’s price list covers the new Java SE Universal Subscription program. The pricing starts at $15 per employee per month for as many as 999 employees, and drops as low as $5.25 per employee per month for 40,000 to 49,999 users. Oracle cited an example in which a company with a total employee count of 28,000, including full-time and part-time employees and agents, consultants, and contractors, would be charged $2.268 million per year.

Oracle, asked for comment, referred to the price list and an FAQ regarding the Universal Subscription. The Universal plan replaced the legacy Java SE subscription and Java SE Desktop subscription programs as of January 23. Java SE Universal Subscription, covering desktop, server, and cloud uses, provides the same features as Java SE Advanced but in a more “convenient” offering, Oracle said, with more flexibility in managing updates and upgrades to Java SE applications.

However, Oracle’s new Java pricing scheme could have different impacts for users, according to software consulting firm Miro Consulting. “Essentially, what Oracle wants to do (or has done) is license every employee in the organization for both workstations and server access (regardless of whether they access Oracle Java on those platforms or if they are development-only),” the company said in a bulletin on its website. “This might be good for some organizations and be more costly for others.” Miro does not recommend adopting this licensing method but was attempting to learn more about the format.

An employee, Oracle’s price list states, is defined as a user site’s full-time and part-time employees, temporary employees, and employees of contractors, agents, outsourcers, and consultants. The quantity of licenses is determined by the total number of employees, not the number of employees using the programs. The price list also cites rules for programs licensed on a per-processor basis.

Users of OpenJDK builds from Oracle and users of free Oracle JDK builds are not impacted by the Java SE Universal Subscription.


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