The Java 6 codeline saw its first release in 2006. It is now old enough that even the generous Oracle support schedule has decreed that it will not receive new updates after December 2018. This is probably why Oracle recently published two KM notes (2351525.1 and 2351499.1) describing how to use Java 7 with EPM products: support for the EPM 11.1.2.x suite actually ends in 2021, so any EPM instance would be running for three years on a technically-unsupported JVM if they were stuck on Java 6. Java 7 support ends in July 2022, resolving this problem.
Our initial tests seem to indicate that, once patched with the latest Product Support Updates and Critical Product Updates, EPM 126.96.36.199 indeed does work fine on Java 7. These two Java releases famously feature a very high level of compatibility, and the EPM suite seems to take advantage of that.
Going beyond theoretical arguments about support policies, the real question many users ask, when considering an infrastructure change of this magnitude, is: “will it bring any improvement in actual day-to-day use?” In order to figure that out, we have run a few stress tests using our reference applications on a typical HFM (Consolidation) / FDMEE / Financial Reporting environment.
Results were encouraging: Java 7 environments were about 5% faster on average. We did not detect any issue with actual functionality (although we did not test every single feature), but we did notice that Java 7 environments seemed to consume an extra 10% of memory, despite what looked like a more aggressive garbage-collection behaviour. The trade-off seems to be that Java 7 brings some performance improvement, at the price of slightly higher memory requirements. This seems to be in line with the consensus about Java 7 in the IT world at large.
It has to be said that the above-mentioned notes do not actually cover all infrastructure considerations one will face when applying this change, nor do they list the safest way to implement it. They are good starting points, mostly from a support-policy perspective, but we wouldn’t recommend to follow them blindly. It is also not possible to guarantee there will be gains in all implementations, since every environment and application combination in the EPM world can result in a different set of challenges.
In conclusion, should you run your EPM 188.8.131.52 on Java 7? At the moment, the answer appears to be a resounding "yes": with relatively little effort, you can gain some extra performance and feel safe in the knowledge that your environment will be fully supported, top to bottom, beyond December of this year.
If you would like to discuss the best way to safely and reliably implement Java 7 with EPM, get in contact with us at inlumi.