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Sun's Java Gets Subscription Support Plan

UPDATED: After years of offering Java as a freebie, Sun Microsystems today announced a new model to the Java line that is fee-based. While all the old editions will remain, for enterprises looking for extra support, there is now the Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) for Business.

This product subscription platform is designed to offer more than double the time Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) will offer support for each platform release, provide faster access to technology updates and fixes and offer enterprise deployment features for customers.

Pricing is available in three tiers ranging from $10 to $12.50 per employee per year. This more comprehensive offering is aimed at enterprises and other customers that have come to rely on Java, but want a more reliable structure of support they can count on in a timely manner. The highest level, Premium Plus, includes support for Java SE for up to 15 years and includes the ability for a customer to request custom fixes from Sun.

Premium ($11 per employee per year), provides the critical security and reliability fixes on a bi-weekly basis for up to 15 years.

Standard ($10 per employee per year), provides customers or partners with access to the same type of support they've had with Sun's traditional Java SE product, but for much longer -- up to 15 years -- instead of the traditional six.*

Sun said Java SE for Business subscribers will also have faster access to fixes beyond the three times per quarter release schedule Java has now, plus new functionality to reduce the cost of enterprise-wide Java deployment.

There will also be exclusive features, such as Java integration with xVM Ops Center products and services and operating system and virtualization support, according to Bill Curci, product marketing manager for Java SE at Sun.

Java has been around for 13 years, so why is Sun offering subscription services now? Thank its open source efforts, Curci said. "It took us being in a position where we can work with an open source option, so no matter what changes we make, people can have the confidence to continue operating with whatever version of the software they want," he told InternetNews.com.

All non-custom changes and fixes that customers get from Java SE for Business will eventually be released in the Java SE general release and made available as GPL code.

"It allows the community a full range of choice, rather than putting the community in the position of using Sun's commercial implementation or no other choice," Curci continued. "With the availability of the open source community, it means whatever new offerings we provide, there is less potential that the community might not be prepared or ready for those changes.

Sun will also offer a redistribution agreement so that ISVs, service providers and integrators can offer Java SE for Business to their customers.

Java SE for Business is available via a company wide license with three levels of support - standard, premium and premium plus and is priced per-employee, per-year. It is available for Java SE version families 1.4, 5.0 and 6 and for the Solaris 10 Operating System, Windows and Red Hat Linux. Customers running on Solaris OS can receive access to Java SE for Business for Solaris at no additional cost.

*Update adds correction to Standard plan terms.