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Understand Java licensing changes and what they may mean for you and your business


What has happened?

In June 2018, Oracle announced a major change to how it will license the use of Java® beginning in January 2019. It’s important that you thoroughly understand these changes and what they may mean for you and your business.

What’s changing?

As of January 2019, Oracle no longer provides free security updates to Java 8, and you may incur a licensing cost if you are using Java in a commercial environment. To quote the announcement from Oracle:

Public updates for Oracle Java SE 8 released after January 2019 will not be available for business, commercial, or production use without a commercial license.

The following table shows how that differs pre- and post-January 2019:

Java binary Vendor Free for personal use Free commercial use Free security updates Support contract option
IBM® SDK for Java v8 IBM 1
OpenJDK+OpenJ9 v8 Adopt 2 3
OpenJDK+HotSpot v8 Adopt 2 3
Oracle Java SE v8 (pre-Jan 19) Oracle
Oracle Java SE v8 (post-Jan 19) Oracle X X
  1. Included as part of an IBM product M&S contract
  2. Community-delivered
  3. Through IBM’s support offering for OpenJDK

How will this affect me?

If you downloaded your Java SE binary from Oracle.com (under Java’s Binary Code License, BCL) and are using it in any of your products, devices, or platforms for commercial purposes or within your business, then you are affected by this change in policy. In these instances, you should consider replacing your Oracle.com-sourced Java binary with one from the AdoptOpenJDK community (refer to this blog for more details). If you downloaded your Java binary from IBM Developer, or you received it as part of your IBM product download, you can also continue to use this for free under the terms of the IBM license.

How are my IBM products and middleware affected?

Customers who use the IBM SDK or JRE bundled with their IBM product (for example, WebSphere, Netcool, MQ), including Java SDKs/JREs for Windows, macOS, and Solaris, are not affected by Oracle’s announcement, provided that the IBM Java SDK/JRE is used solely in the context of operating the product. Customers who use the IBM Java SDK/JRE on their Power, LinuxOne, IBM i, and z/OS platforms are also not affected by Oracle’s changes.

Is there an alternative?

Yes! The AdoptOpenJDK community makes available a number of Java binaries that are free to use in both personal and commercial environments, and receive free security updates through a collaborative effort by the community at OpenJDK. In addition to OpenJDK with HotSpot, AdoptOpenJDK provides binaries for OpenJDK with Eclipse OpenJ9, which uses the cloud-, server-, and workstation-optimized JVM from IBM, and is available for Linux® on x86-64 and other architectures like IBM Power® and System/390®, Windows™, and macOS®.

OpenJDK with OpenJ9 contains a high-performance, scalable, Java virtual machine (JVM) implementation that is particularly well-optimized for resource-constrained environments, such as workstations and cloud deployments, where fast startup and ramp up — as well as low memory footprint characteristics — are important. For more details, read the blog “OpenJDK with Eclipse OpenJ9: No worries, just improvements.”

For those who need enterprise-grade support for some or all of their Java deployments, IBM’s low-cost support offering for OpenJDK allows you to raise tickets and get help in resolving issues discovered in or with the Java runtime. IBM’s support offering for OpenJDK also provides industry-leading monitoring capabilities for Java running in your server environments.

What happens next?

We advise that you take the time to understand how you and your business are impacted by Oracle’s changes and to discuss with us what options are available to you.

Where can I find out more information?

We would love to talk to you about your future use of Java and how we can help.

  • If you are an existing IBM customer, please reach out to your IBM product team.
  • Download and test drive an AdoptOpenJDK binary of OpenJDK with OpenJ9 today. If Docker is more your style, then pull one of the Docker images at adoptopenjdk/openjdk8-openj9.
  • Take a look at our very competitively priced support offering for OpenJDK.
  • If you are not an existing IBM customer and would like to understand more about replacing your Java with supported AdoptOpenJDK binaries, please contact Murali Veeravalli.
Rob Lamb