What has changed in Java Release and Update Availability?
For years, businesses could survive just fine without any sort of Java support. New versions of Java came along every 3 years or so, and there were plenty of publicly-available security updates, bug fixes, and patches while each release stabilized. With a little bit of careful planning, businesses could move from release to release, making it easy to update Java from JDK 6 to JDK 7 to JDK 8.
That world has ended.
If your business needs timely Java security updates, platform-level bug fixes, or hotline support, you will need a commercial contract to get these services from Oracle after January 2019 for JDK 8. You’ll also need a contract from Oracle to use Oracle Java SE 11 in any commercial application.
Here’s what’s been happening since Java 9 was announced in September 2017, and why every Java-based business needs to review their security and support requirements now:
Java SE’s release train and support roadmap have changed to support a much more rapid evolution of the Java SE platform. Starting with JDK 9, Java SE standards promulgated by the JCP and the associated OpenJDK implementation established new versioning nomenclature and a new release cadence for all Java releases.
Here’s what has changed:
- Oracle and the OpenJDK community are moving to a Long Term Support (LTS) release model plus a new class of “Feature” releases.
- LTS releases are scheduled every 3 years. These are comparable in scope to prior major releases of the JDK, like JDK6, JDK7 and JDK 8. JDK 11, launched in September 2018, is the most recent LTS release of Java.
- Availability of public updates for LTS releases is planned for only 6 months after general availability (GA). LTS updates after the first 6 months (and rights to use Oracle Java SE in production) are available only through paid commercial support from Oracle.
- Feature releases introduce new features before the next LTS release and appear twice per year, currently targeted to be released every March and September. Feature releases will only be maintained and supported by Oracle in the OpenJDK project for 6 months, aligning the GA of each new feature release with the end of life of the prior feature release.
- JDK 9 (GA in September 2017) and JDK 10 (GA in March 2018) are feature releases.
- JDK 12 (GA March 19, 2019), and JDK 13 (GA scheduled in September 2019), etc. are all feature releases leading up to the next LTS release (JDK 17) scheduled in September 2021.
Oracle information from oracle.com/technetwork/java/eol-135779.html
This new Java SE release cadence has several challenges and shortcomings:
- Beginning with JDK 11, Oracle’s public JDK updates end concurrently or very shortly after the GA of a new release. For example, Oracle offered public updates for JDK 11 until January 2019. Public updates for JDK 8 also ended in January 2019.
- 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.
Worried that you won’t have access to the latest Java security updates? Zulu Enterprise subscribers get timely updates and security patches aligned with the OpenJDK project’s release cycle plus the availability of out-of-cycle emergency fixes delivered by Azul’s world-class engineers. With Zulu Enterprise you can be assured that your JDKs and JVMs contain the latest updates, security patches, and bug fixes with long-term access and plenty of support overlap from version to version.
How Zulu Enterprise Addresses these Challenges
Zulu Enterprise releases align with Oracle’s and OpenJDK’s general availability for all “feature” releases of Java SE but offer overlapping support coverage from one release to the next. Zulu Enterprise customers have access to all bug fixes, enhancements, and quarterly and emergency security updates. Azul also makes out-of-cycle bug fixes and security updates for its commercial customers, with our fixes contributed back to the OpenJDK community. Azul also backports critical security updates and bug fixes to all supported releases, including Java 6.
Zulu Enterprise offers Long-Term Support (LTS) for the same releases designated by Oracle and the OpenJDK project as LTS, and provides 8-year access to bug fixes, security updates, and other fixes as needed (“Production Support”) plus 2 years of additional support intended to advise and assist users to migrate to a newer JDK version (“Extended Support”).
In addition to supporting the once-every-3-year LTS releases, which are ideal for long-term production use, 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 provides 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, plus 12 months of Extended Support. Java 13 and Java 15 have been designated as MTS releases.
For information regarding which Java SE releases are designated as LTS or MTS, visit Azul Product Support Lifecycle.
Why Choose Azul for Java Support?
Azul’s Zulu Enterprise is designed to help you gain the benefits of Java’s new release cadence without incurring support and security risk to your operation – whether you utilize the latest cutting-edge feature release or only LTS releases. Zulu Enterprise ensures that bug fixes and security updates remain available well after Oracle ends public support.
Zulu Enterprise is also extremely cost-effective. As seen in the pricing table below, Java support for thousands of desktops and/or servers is typically available for less than the cost of a single fully-loaded engineer.
Finally, Azul’s customer support engineers have extensive Java experience and deep knowledge of the JDK, JVM, memory management, performance optimization, and usage of industry-standard application monitoring and management tools. As a Zulu Enterprise customer, you will be working with an experienced, knowledgeable Azul support engineer who knows Java inside and out and is dedicated to the success of your deployment and your business.
Our customers know the value of having Azul Support in their corner, and over the past 10 years have demonstrated their appreciation with a 97% support renewal rate.
Zulu® Enterprise Support Pricing
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|25||$13,500||Not available||Not available|
Your Azul Sales representative will provide pricing that matches your specific requirements and help you maximize the value of your Zulu® Enterprise Support subscription. Contact us to learn more and to request a quote.
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