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Under the hood of Zulu Enterprise: a shiny new commercial version of OpenJDK

JAX Editorial Team
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Azul Systems CEO Scott Sellers explains why they think their new tool is a worthy match for Oracle offerings.

Last week, Azul Systems went live with Zulu Enterprise – a spanking new commercialised and fully supported version of OpenJDK. Here, CEO Scott Sellers explains what motivated Azul to create this offering, and why he feels it’s more than a match for the mighty Oracle.

JAX: What are the biggest problems you are looking to solve with this release?

Sellers: First pain point: Our customers want to have a choice in enterprise Java support. (Having only one vendor is problematic, now they have better-quality, lower-cost options.)

Second pain point – price. Azul’s support offerings are much more cost-effective than those offered by Oracle.

Third pain point: Enterprises also feel rushed by Java’s rapid end-of-life of older versions. They want to upgrade their Java-based applications on their schedule. With Zulu Enterprise we support major Java versions (Java 6 and later) for up to 10 years.

Our customers also want reassurance that their target platforms (OS, kernel plus Java) are tested to help eliminate the edge cases that can disrupt operations when components change.

JAX: Why do you think people will choose this solution over Oracle?

First, Zulu meets all the Java SE standards and runs and operates like Oracle’s Hotspot.

Second, unlike Oracle or IBM, Azul Systems is focused on Java – only. We have a deep, dedicated JVM support team who keep Java-based systems running in production for some of the most demanding customers on the planet. Our support renewal rate over the past 10 years is over 97%. 

Third, Zulu is 100% Open Source – enterprises believe that this model gives them the most flexibility and protects them from the lock-in inherent in proprietary solutions. and ensures that the community will continue to drive the evolution of OpenJDK. Finally, our support costs less than similar support offerings from Oracle.

In short – we have a compatible, freely downloadable Open Source product with a better support offering coupled with a pricing advantage. And our business is all about keeping enterprise Java applications running.

What do you make of the ongoing security issues with Java, especially in legacy versions?

We monitor Java’s security issues closely. Like Linux, Java is widely deployed and as a result there will continue to be security holes identified that need fixing.  That is exactly why there is a need for paid support offerings like Zulu Enterprise, so users/enterprises have comfort that they have a supported offering that addresses these issues (including bugs, too) as they come up.

 Do you see these problems worsening in the future?

We can’t say if security issues are “worsening” – the situations of Windows and Linux are similar to the situation with Java. Security is of high importance to enterprises and we expect security will continue to be an area that enterprise invest in solutions for. 

What do you think makes Zulu stand out?

 Azul is the first company to offer multi-platform commercial support for OpenJDK – Zulu is a completely open source, commercialized version of OpenJDK

Application Guard is a unique Azul offering that supplements our top-tier enterprise Support offerings – for each Zulu build we automate the testing of your Java platform (OS, kernel, and Java). We provide regression testing of your specific configuration as well. In essence, your runtime environment is replicated in our test runs, providing peace of mind and reducing the amount of testing our customers need to do.

 Our enhanced support offerings can include Azul’s Technical Account Managers – who are integrated into your operation and help drive problem resolution as your advocate to Azul’s support and engineering organizations.

Our pricing is server-based, which is simpler and less problematic than Oracle’s processor-based pricing. As enterprises upgrade their servers and core counts rise, with processor-based pricing software costs rise at the same rate (roughly Moore’s law). With server-based pricing, software costs grow at a slower rate.

Finally, Zulu has uniquely flexible terms of use for ISVs who wish to embed or bundle a supported JVM with their products.

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