New Zulu Enterprise support offering enables smooth transition between Java versions and avoids disruptive “support cliffs” created by recent changes to the Java SE roadmap
January 17, 2018
- Zulu Enterprise commercial support offerings for OpenJDK address new production challenges introduced by the recently announced OpenJDK and Java SE release cadence and update plan
- Zulu Enterprise eliminates the “support cliffs” created once public Java SE releases are no longer updated and maintained, providing support period overlaps and smooth transitions for production deployments
- Zulu Enterprise introduces unique Medium Term Support (MTS), enabling practical production use of new Java features well ahead of alternative JVMs/JDKs
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Azul Systems (Azul), the award-winning leader in Java runtime solutions, today announced a new Zulu Enterprise support roadmap designed to help businesses adapt to the changing Java SE release cadence. Azul’s Zulu Enterprise offering provides certified 100% open source builds of OpenJDK compliant with Java SE specifications supported across a plethora of operating systems, containers and on-premises and cloud deployments.
The OpenJDK and Java SE release cadence and update plans have gone through radical changes recently. Starting with the release of JDK 9 (aka Java 9), the official new release cadence for Java SE consists of Long Term Support (LTS) releases along with a new class of “feature” releases. General availability of LTS releases is scheduled every 3 years, with additional feature releases every six months. These feature releases enable new capabilities to be added to the Java SE platform in a more rapid manner than the historical multi-year release intervals between for example JDK 6 and 7, and JDK 7 and 8.
The new Java SE release cadence has several challenges for production environments:
- The availability of public updates for LTS releases are planned for only 6 months after general availability (GA). LTS updates after the first 6 months are available only through paid commercial support from Oracle.
- Beginning with JDK 11, Oracle’s public JDK updates end concurrent with the GA of a new release. For example, Oracle will no longer offer public updates for JDK 8 once JDK 11 is released in September, 2018.
- As JDK 11 will take time to become production-worthy, this “support cliff” presents major challenges and stability risks, forcing users of public updates to choose between using an immature release or one with known security vulnerabilities.
- The frequent feature releases enable access to new capabilities in the JDK/JVM well before the next LTS, but their zero-overlap “support cliff” makes them problematic for production use, as there is no smooth transition path from one stable and updated version to the next.
Azul is addressing these challenges with an updated Zulu Enterprise support roadmap as follows:
- Zulu Enterprise releases will align with Oracle’s and OpenJDK’s scheduled GA for all releases of Java SE, but offer overlapping support coverage from one release to the next.
- Zulu Long-Term Support (LTS) releases will align with Oracle and OpenJDK LTS releases, and will be supported with bug fixes and security updates for a period of at least 8 years from the GA date.
- Zulu Enterprise also provides Medium-Term Support (MTS) for certain Java releases. MTS releases enable practical use in production deployments of the new capabilities available in feature releases without having to wait for the next LTS release. Azul designates one MTS release per year in the years between LTS releases and provide support, bug fixes and security updates for 18 months past the GA date of the following LTS release, ensuring support overlap and a smooth transition path for production deployments.
- Finally, Zulu Enterprise provides Short-Term Support (STS) for the remaining Java SE feature releases. STS support allows users the earliest access to new Java features with sufficient support and updates to allow a smooth transition to a newer JDK release.
Zulu Enterprise lifecycles for specific Java SE releases are available at www.azul.com/products/azul_support_roadmap.
Industry perspectives on Azul’s new Zulu Enterprise Support Roadmap
“While we are delighted that the Java SE platform is now evolving at a far more rapid pace, we were concerned with the very short lifecycles of the new planned feature releases” said Attila Bukta, Director of OMS Service Reliability Engineering at Workday, Inc. “We like having the ability to try new Java features as they become available, but are not at all interested in releases that reach end-of-life in only six months. We are very pleased with how Azul’s Zulu Enterprise support plans ensure that we can take advantage of interesting new features without having to wait 3 or more years between Java’s major releases.”
“Azul’s new Zulu Enterprise Support roadmap ensures that Payara’s customers can take advantage of the latest features of the JDK before the next long-term release is available,” said Steve Millidge, Payara Founder and Technical Director. “Our customers can develop and deploy mission critical applications on Payara Sever and Zulu Enterprise knowing that they will have time for a controlled transition between JDK releases on a fully supported platform.”
“While Oracle’s latest announcements provide a welcome path to accelerate the Java SE platform evolution, many Java users may find the short support lifespan of new feature releases incompatible with their best practices”, said John Abbott, Founder and Research VP at 451 Research. “Azul’s new Zulu Enterprise support roadmap provides an alternative for users and enterprises who wish to selectively standardize on new features without the three-year wait for long-term support releases of Java.”
“We applaud the changes in the Java SE roadmap and the commitment to include new features in a more rapid manner”, said Scott Sellers, Azul Systems president and CEO. “Azul’s Zulu Enterprise offering allows Java users to embrace new platform releases at the pace they desire, secure in the knowledge that they will not be driven off a support cliff when the public builds of Java SE are no longer being updated and maintained.”
Zulu Enterprise builds of OpenJDK are freely available for immediate download and use, without restrictions, from the Azul Systems website. For additional details on Zulu Enterprise support options and pricing, visit https://www.azul.com/products/zulu-and-zulu-enterprise/zulu-enterprise-java-support-options or contact an Azul representative or reseller at firstname.lastname@example.org.