What to do when free Java SE support ends

By: Tammy Shvartsman

Does your company use Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) 8 to develop web applications? If so, you should know that there have been significant changes to the Java SE release cycle, software licensing and support program. What is changing, what do those changes mean for you as a commercial customer, and how can you continue to meet enterprise Java support needs if you switch to an alternative Java platform, Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK)? The IBM Open Source Software Support community of experts can help you through this transition so you can keep your business running smoothly.

Watch this on-demand webinar, Solving the open source support challenge, to learn how to provide your team with support for the solution stack at any stage of software development.

Six-month release cycles

Moving forward, there will be a new version of Java released every six months and a long-term-support (LTS) version released every three years. This started with Java 9 and the current release is Java 11, an LTS release with extended support.

The new release schedule is great because customers can get new features every six months. However, some companies may find it difficult to upgrade that often because it would contribute to churn in day-to-day business and development processes. And waiting to upgrade to the LTS version every three years could create problems because there are few restrictions on changes. For example, a major library or language change could be introduced a year after an LTS release, but you would be stuck with an outdated version until the next LTS release two years later.

The end of public updates for Java SE

Based on the six-month release cycle, how will support for all the new versions of Java work? The answer — every version of Java, except for LTS versions, will no longer be supported after the next version is released. This means free binary downloads for JDK releases or write patches for OpenJDK bugs will not be supplied after the initial six-month period following a release. Also, it has been announced that security updates and fixes for Java SE 8 will no longer be available for free to commercial users, effective January 2019.

If you want to continue receiving support from the Java SE manufacturer, you’ll need to buy a subscription and either stick with an LTS version or upgrade every six months. If you don’t have a subscription or choose not to renew a current subscription, you’ll lose rights to any commercial software downloaded as well as access to the manufacturer’s Premier Support.

At this point, you might think you have no other options than to sign up for a new Java SE subscription, try to maintain your own JDK or simply stop caring about security. But there is another option.

The alternative: Replace Java SE with OpenJDK

OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java SE that’s contributed to by the manufacturer and the open Java community. It’s the same technology as Java SE, and the manufacturer will continue to contribute to it after it ramps up its subscription service. By replacing your Java SE version with OpenJDK, you’ll get out of vendor lock-in and won’t have to pay for features not being used, and updates will be available for longer than six months. Developers will also have more flexibility. The main drawback is support.

OpenJDK is supported by a community. Thus, there aren’t any service-level agreements (SLAs), problems are public and there are no guaranteed fixes. Fortunately, IBM can provide the security and enterprise-grade support you count on.

The enterprise-grade support you need

IBM Open Source Software Support helps clients replace their current Java SE with OpenJDK and can provide enterprise-grade support services with the following benefits:

  • Up to 60 percent savings compared to a Java SE subscription by migrating to OpenJDK and using IBM TSS for support.
  • Access to experts who can answer a range of issues tailored to client-specific needs. With over 18 years of experience, IBM TSS can accelerate development, improve efficiency and support even the most complex cases.
  • Advisory services to help clients where most issues occur, outside the package. This includes interoperability, compatibility, configuration and short duration guidance.
  • Experienced, one-stop, around-the-clock remote software support as needed, with clear and measurable SLAs and committed response times based on problem severity.
  • Comprehensive support solutions designed to reduce complexity in your IT infrastructure and open source ecosystem.

By engaging IBM support services, your IT staff can focus on strategic objectives, optimizing productivity and increasing ROI. And you won’t be required to update your Java version every six months.

Even if you don’t pay for a Java SE subscription, you don’t have to go without enterprise-grade support. IBM TSS support for OpenJDK provides a comprehensive support model designed to help clients deploy open technologies across the enterprise with confidence.

About The Author

Tammy Shvartsman

Director, Offering Management, Business Line Executive of Software Support, IBM Services

Tammy Shvartsman is the Offering Management Executive for IBM Technology Support Services. Tammy is an expert in creating technical support solutions, and her expertise includes Linux development, client support and loyalty, and storage and server technologies. She partners with key technology providers to deliver around-the-clock support for client’s IT ecosystems across the globe. Her team... Read more