java licensing

Oracle Java Audits – The Complete Guide for 2024

Oracle conducts Java audits in two forms:

  • Formal Audit: Follows traditional Oracle audit procedures that Oracle’s audit organization handles.
  • Soft Audit: Begins as a compliance discussion with IT departments and can escalate to involve C-level executives if issues are not resolved.

Oracle Java Audits: Formal and Soft Approaches

Oracle Java Audits Formal and Soft Approaches

Types of Oracle Java Audits:

  • Formal Audit: Oracle’s Java formal audit adheres to the procedures used in traditional audits and directly involves the Oracle audit organization.
  • Soft Audit: In this less formal approach, Oracle initiates a compliance discussion with your IT department. Issues that are not addressed may escalate to veiled threats about intellectual property rights, potentially involving your company’s C-level executives and legal team.

Detailed Look at Oracle Java Formal Audits

Since 2023, Oracle has escalated its scrutiny of how customers utilize Java, conducting formal audits more aggressively.

Selection Process:

  • Customers are specifically selected by the Oracle account team for these audits, which are part of the annual license review process.
  • The choice of entities for auditing is deliberate and aimed at optimizing Oracle’s revenue through license compliance.

Revenue Importance:

  • These formal audits are estimated to contribute about 70% of Oracle’s software licensing revenue, indicating their significant role in Oracle’s financial ecosystem.

Oracle Java Audit Process

Oracle Java Audit Process
  • Audit Team Engagement: The Global License Advisory Services (GLAS), Oracle’s official audit arm, performs these formal audits. Known for their thorough and stringent auditing methods, GLAS makes these audits among the most daunting for customers.
  • In-depth Review: The auditing process entails a detailed examination of every aspect of Java deployment within a company. This includes all patches and versions, using a blend of automated tools and manual checks to ensure nothing is overlooked.
  • Mandatory Information Disclosure: Entities undergoing audits are required to provide comprehensive details regarding their Java deployments and historical usage. This necessitates high transparency and extensive documentation, including records of Java software downloads, installations, and updates.

Navigating the Complexities of Formal Java Audits: Organizations are encouraged to meticulously manage their Java software licenses and maintain precise records to prepare adequately for these audits and avoid significant financial liabilities for non-compliance.

Strategies for Defending Against an Oracle Java Audit

Strategies for Defending Against an Oracle Java Audit

Preparing for an Audit:

  • Notification Process: Oracle initiates the audit process by sending a formal notification to your CFO, CIO, or both, outlining their intent to audit your Oracle Java licenses.
  • Kick-off Meeting: This initial meeting is crucial for agreeing on a timeline and the procedure for sharing necessary data.
  • Data Submission: Oracle will provide access to an online license audit portal where you must complete a detailed questionnaire about your Java usage. They may also require you to complete a Java Server Worksheet (JSW) and utilize their PowerCLI tool to gather data from your virtual environments.
  • Third-party Tools Inquiry: Oracle might inquire whether you use third-party software asset management tools, which they often recognize as valid for their auditing process. Careful consideration is advised when disclosing such tools, as they can facilitate the auditing process for Oracle.
  • Audit Reporting: Following the data collection, Oracle presents an audit report, typically illustrating the maximum potential fees.
  • Review and Formulation of a Defense Plan: You have 45 days to review the audit findings and formulate a response plan. It is essential not to accept the findings prematurely until an Oracle licensing expert has reviewed the audit results.

What is a Soft Java Audit?

What is a Soft Java Audit

Soft Audit Dynamics:

  • Initiated by Oracle’s Java account teams with the backing of the business practices team at Oracle HQ, a soft audit typically starts with an email outreach concerning Java licensing.
  • Proof of Licensing Compliance: The teams often have evidence of necessary licenses for downloads, security patches, and Java versions, which they use to assess compliance with Oracle’s licensing policies.

How We Can Assist with Oracle “Soft Audits”

  • Initial Audit Contact: If you receive an email from Oracle regarding a soft audit and have not yet responded, Redress Compliance can clarify the licensing requirements and help you draft effective responses that could prevent escalation to a formal audit. Our team has successfully assisted over 20 organizations in managing such inquiries.
  • Post-response Engagement: You can still mitigate the situation even if you have already provided Oracle with details on software usage. Redress Compliance offers a comprehensive 40-hour advisory service to help minimize or eliminate Oracle’s claims.
  • Addressing Claims for Historical Usage: If Oracle’s claims involve past usage based on your provided information, our advisory services can help you reduce these claims. Additionally, we offer a contingent fee arrangement, where our fee is based on the savings we help you achieve.

FAQs on Oracle Java Audits

Does Oracle use specific scripts to audit Java?

  • Oracle does not use proprietary scripts to audit Java. Instead, they rely on verified third-party Software Asset Management (SAM) tools. You will be required to provide data declarations in Excel format.

What are the main focuses of an Oracle Java audit?

  • Oracle’s audits typically focus on:
    • Application Names: What applications are using Java.
    • Virtual Deployments: How Java is deployed in virtual environments.
    • VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).
    • Install Paths: Where Java is installed within the system.
    • Security Patches and Downloads: Review of security updates or versions installed over the past decade.

What is a common mistake during Oracle Java audits?

  • A frequent error involves the installation date of Java. Oracle queries this to potentially claim retroactive fees. It’s advisable to either omit this detail or contest any claims arising from it.

Are Oracle Java audits standardized?

  • No, the audit methods can vary. Different auditors may use different tools and focus on varied aspects, such as Java Commercial Features, which some may request while others might not.

Should Oracle’s licensing discussion emails be ignored?

  • Initially, you might consider ignoring these unless you thoroughly understand your Java licensing situation and a prepared audit defense strategy. However, if unresolved, Oracle will likely escalate the matter to your C-level executives.

How should you respond to Oracle having logs of security and Java downloads?

  • Oracle maintains download logs that may require a license. Reviewing your licensing agreements and formulating an effective audit defense strategy in response is crucial.

Oracle wants to discuss Java Licensing via email; what steps should be taken?

  • First, assess which Java deployments require a license and optimize your usage. Then, based on your findings, engage in negotiations and communications with Oracle. Given Oracle’s informational advantage, engaging with a professional service like our Java Audit Defense can benefit cost-saving and achieving favorable outcomes.

Is purchasing the employee metrics necessary if we have licensable Java installed?

  • Purchasing the employee metric is not the only option. Successful negotiation requires understanding your Java deployments and negotiating skills with Oracle.

Our Java SE license is up for renewal, and Oracle won’t renew on the old metrics; what are our options?

  • Oracle may propose switching to an employee license metric at a new cost. If looking to avoid this or save costs, consulting with licensing experts is advisable.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.