Oracle Now Charging for Java Updates:  But does it affect you?

Written by: Ben Banton

29th November 2018

From the end of January 2019, Oracle are no longer providing Java updates for free – they are going to charge customers a fortune for these instead.  But does this affect you?

To understand this, we are going to use an example.  Let’s say that you are a customer running Oracle e-Business Suite on Oracle database 11g.  You may be using Financials, Purchasing including iProcurement, and HR including Self-Service HR.

So where is the Java and what does it do?  Java has 2 components;

  • JDK – the Java Development Kit, and
  • JRE – the Java Runtime Environment.

JDK is used on a server to deliver software from there.  JRE is used to provide an environment on the PC to run Java software there.

So where is Java used by the Oracle e-Business Suite?  The Oracle forms (screens) are written in Java so you use JRE to deliver screens to users of your core applications like Financials, Purchasing and HR.

However, you do not need JRE to deliver self-service pages like iProcurement and Self-Service HR, so you do not need to worry about Java updates for these types of users, which probably form a large part of your user community.  Many of your other business systems such as Office 365, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer also do not use Java, so you do not need Java updates to use these applications.

So when and where do you need Java updates?

The possible need arises when you have one business user that uses one or more Oracle E-Business Suite core module (Financials or HR etc.) and also wants to use another Oracle system for another business application, for example, an Oracle-based billing system.  If you have users who need to do this, then you may find that the E-Business Suite needs one version of JRE whilst the billing system needs another.

You can resolve this by using a tool like Thinapp (https://www.vmware.com/products/thinapp.html ).  This type of tool allows users to run legacy or incompatible apps on the same Windows desktop environment.  In reality, it is likely that you would only need this solution for a very small subset of your users, and this tool would not only facilitate this; it would also separate these environments on the desktop meaning that updates to one of these will not cause knock-on effects on any of the other environments.

The other reason Oracle cites for customers needing to pay for updates to Java is to get security fixes.  However, there are much better solutions on the market for security such as the one we use for our customers, which is Trend Micro.  This tool creates a “ring fence” around all of your applications and desktop environments to stop any attack on any software (including Java) before it gets anywhere near your users.  Patches are downloaded onto a console and applied to the fence without any “user acceptance testing” and without touching the Java or desktop code (so no risk of systems not working after such updates).  And these security fixes are delivered in days or hours from finding a new vulnerability, meaning that your systems are far more protected than they were if you were waiting weeks or months for fixes from Oracle.

Conclusion

With a little planning, most customers will find that they do not need to pay Oracle for Java updates and that they can move to third-party support with ourselves and save even more money than before, as they are now not paying Oracle for Java updates either!

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