According to Oracle, Java is a fast, secure and reliable programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless Java is installed, and more are created every day. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere.

Throughout 2018, Oracle introduced some significant changes to their Java release and support model. These changes have a significant impact on thousands of companies where Java is an important component of an organization’s IT ecosystem.

In summary, here is what happened:

  • In line with the strategy adopted by other software vendors, such as Microsoft, the Java release train started to move faster. Previously, Java Standard Edition (SE) releases had quite a long lifetime. Starting with Java SE 9, a new release is published every 6 months.
  • Oracle changed its commercial support program for Java SE, moving to a subscription model called Java SE Desktop Subscription. Updates for a given version are not provided anymore after six months. The exception is LTS (Long Time Support) releases: they occur every 3 years and customers can access an 8-year support plan, but only if they pay for the Java SE Desktop Subscription.
  • Beginning January 2019, Oracle announced that Java SE 8 public updates will no longer be available for “Business, Commercial or Production use” without a commercial license. Nevertheless, Oracle provides an equivalent Java build available here (we can call it “open” for the sake of clarity) that can be also used for commercial purposes and has a support exclusively limited to 6 months.

In such a scenario, companies have three options:

  1. If they can update Java SE at least once every six months (and therefore guarantee that bug fixes and security patches are installed), they can use the “open” Java build provided by Oracle.
  2. If they need a longer support timeframe, they can move to an LTS release (currently either Java 8 or Java 11) and pay for the Java SE Desktop Subscription.
  3. Otherwise, they can migrate to alternative sources of Java SE from someone other than Oracle (e.g. Zulu, Amazon Corretto, etc.).

Making such a decision requires visibility on the usage of Java across the IT environment. IT departments need the capability to answer questions like: What versions are being used? By how many users? What applications need it? Organizations need to remain compliant and avoid unpleasant possible audit outcomes, but also need to guarantee the stability, security and performance of the applications that leverage Java.

Nexthink can help by providing such data and visibility. Check out our new Java Management Library Pack, that contains remote actions and investigations able to provide key information related to the presence and usage of Java in the IT ecosystem. This will enable IT departments to address what was listed above and also to better manage possible challenges in terms of backward compatibility for existing legacy applications, since with Java’s new release train new features are shipped more frequently, but also old ones are removed.

This community article provides additional information on how to use the Library pack.