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Magento Commerce or Magento Open Source: The Comparison
For companies that want to run an online shop or an extensive e-commerce platform, Magento offers two versions: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. What are the differences between these versions and why should shop operators decide against a budget solution when in doubt? We provide the answers here.
What is the difference between Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce?
When Magento published the first version of its shop software in 2008, it was open source and therefore free. A lot has happened since then: The Magento portfolio has grown over the years, and numerous versions and products have appeared. And there was a split: the successful e-commerce software is available to interested parties in two versions.
The still free version is Magento Open Source, which was called Magento Community Edition before it was renamed in 2017. The more extensive and paid version was sold as Magento Enterprise Edition for a long time. It was renamed Magento Commerce.
With the split, the positioning also changed. Many small agencies and start-ups rely on Magento Open Source, while larger companies and corporations use Magento Commerce. One reason for this are the costs: With Magento Open Source, you only incur costs for hosting, for special extensions and, if necessary, for the agency that sets up the online shop. With Magento Commerce the license costs are added. The amount depends on the scope of the installation and the turnover generated by your online shop.
In addition to costs, there are far more differentiating features that ensure that many medium-sized and large companies choose Magento Commerce.
What both Magento versions have in common
Magento is an extremely flexible and versatile e-commerce software. It can be adapted to all requirements, for example for fashion online shops, B2B platforms or complex projects for the digitization of companies.
The software architecture and the code were already quite similar in the Magento Community Edition and the Magento Enterprise Edition, both based on Magento 1. Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce emerged from the much more powerful Magento 2. The core code is in both versions equal. The shop structure, categories, products, product attributes, prices and the like are mapped and managed according to the same model. For this reason, features such as layered navigation (filter navigation based on the product attributes) or intelligent price control using individually configurable price rules can be found in both versions.
They can also be easily connected to other IT systems via APIs. Thanks to its service layer, you can easily connect Magento Open Source and Commerce to a PIM or integrate it into a SAP system landscape.
The differences at a glance
The following official diagram from Magento shows the essential similarities and differences between Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce:
The advantages of Magento open source
The open source solution has one undeniable advantage: it is free. In connection with the numerous available extensions, so-called extensions, via the Magento Marketplace, you get a really cheap and functional shop system. Provided that you are technically and, above all, well versed in using PHP to adapt and maintain your online shop to your own needs.
It is also important to find out about their quality before installing extensions. Magento tries to guarantee a high quality with its controlled marketplace for Magento 2 extensions, but to be on the safe side you should check every extension you need carefully. In addition, extensions from third-party providers must support PHP versions 7.3 - 7.4 from Magento version 2.4 at the latest.
If a company can meet these two challenges, Magento Open Source is a very good choice for many e-commerce projects with low investment costs and high flexibility. Especially for small companies that are just starting out in e-commerce.
The advantages of Magento Commerce
The paid version was developed primarily to cover the needs of larger companies. Meanwhile the focus of Magento Commerce is clearly more on the B2B sector. A B2B function package has been specially developed for this in the form of the Magento B2B Edition. Magento thus particularly appeals to the B2B-heavy medium-sized companies in Germany.
Of course, Magento Commerce can also do more when it comes to security, simply because this version is usually supported by special service providers during development. In addition, Magento Commerce offers an independent CMS system, which is one of the biggest arguments for many companies to opt for the paid version of the shop system.
The advantages of Magento Commerce in a detailed list:
The ability of a shop system to react appropriately to traffic of different sizes is especially important for larger companies with a heavily frequented online shop. Magento Commerce has the ability to scale accordingly based on given load peaks. That means: If the traffic is below average, fewer resources are required and vice versa. This is made possible, among other things, by database splitting. The
Magento Commerce supports database splitting. In doing so, data packets are divided into front-end and back-end and several databases are created, which can then run in a cluster. In this way, only the clusters that are currently needed are queried - and that increases the speed and stability of the web shop.
The topic of security is taken very seriously at Magento. With Magento 2.3, for example, another update loop was introduced, whereby the shop system receives regular security improvements in addition to the usual patches.
Magento Commerce also has a certification for the PCI Data Sercuity System (PCI-DSS) and therefore has a significant advantage over the open source version. In addition, administration processes are logged and orders are archived. The administrator rights can control shop operators for different pages. In the event of incorrect changes to the page content, a backup can be loaded very easily.
The Magento page builder
Good content and proper content management are among the key disciplines for successful e-commerce. Content is also becoming more and more important for online shops as a distinguishing feature and from an SEO point of view. Many companies therefore rely on a content management system (CMS) that needs to be linked to the shop system. This can often be tedious and duplicates the workload. For this reason, Magento has developed its own CMS called Page Builder, which is reserved exclusively for Magento Commerce customers.
With the Page Builder, shop operators can create a loading page in just a few clicks and easily maintain and add to the content. Paired with the Content staging, a tool for planning content in advance, the Page Builder can be used to plan complex campaigns for new products without having to hire an external service provider.
The Magento B2B edition
Magento generally offers numerous B2B modules, also in the open source version. However, these are much more extensive in Magento Commerce. It is not for nothing that the Magento B2B Edition was launched, which is available to every Magento Commerce customer free of charge. This is a B2B function package that is continuously improved and expanded with every Magento update. The most important functions at a glance:
With this tool, shop operators can create order lists that work like a shopping cart. In this way, individual goods can be assigned to different projects. Shop operators who work purely on a project basis no longer need the normal shopping cart.
Companies that supply several different customers (e.g. hardware stores) need company profiles for each of these customers in order to be able to assign preferred items and payment methods. This is exactly what you can do with the Company Accounts module.
Thanks to this module, customers can comment on individual products in the shopping cart, for example to ask for a volume discount. This enormously reduces the employee costs for support on the part of the shop operator.
This module is already widely used by many companies that rely on the Magento B2B Edition. With Magento 2.4, the tool has been expanded: Shop operators can now apply different rules to it, such as access rights for buyers, reorder limits, etc. Another sign that Magento continues to pursue a very B2B-oriented strategy and constantly new functions and extensions developed for the B2B package.
Service: licenses, support and IT governance
Certainly some of the mentioned functions of Magento Commerce could also be realized with the help of external modules and services in the open source version. There is no guarantee for support and security for this. This is another advantage of Magento Commerce, because here the licensing and governance situation is clear: The users can rely on a secure and binding provision of the software and its support.
In general, Magento Open Source does not offer the same legal security in terms of liability and warranty as Magento Commerce due to the OSL3 license. Also, the user cannot always be aware of copyright and patent law problems and the associated risks. However, compliance with the complex license provisions is still the responsibility of the licensee, i.e. the shop operator.
Another major challenge with open software licenses is the lack of support based on agreed Service Level Agreements (SLA), which is particularly important when it comes to the provision of security patches and the integrity of the IT architecture.
Magento in the cloud
Regardless of which of the current Magento versions a shop operator chooses: each can be hosted on its own servers (on premises) or with a cloud provider. With a cloud orchestration, you can also set up a multi-cloud system with Magento.
Since the cloud is becoming increasingly important in online trading, the Magento Commerce Cloud has also been a pure cloud version of the successful e-commerce system since 2018. This is based on an AWS infrastructure.
After Magento was taken over by Adobe in June 2018, the parent company announced another product at the Adobe Summit 2019: the Adobe Commerce Cloud. The Adobe Commerce Cloud is based on a special version of Magento Commerce (Magento Commerce Pro) and is fully integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud. This is a purely online product, which is aimed particularly at corporations with several hundred million euros in sales per year.
The positioning of Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce
Long-term planning vs. budget solution
A fair comparison as to whether Magento Open Source or Magento Commerce is the “better” version can certainly be made in this way. On the other hand, the functional scope of Magento Commerce is significantly larger - which in turn is reflected in the costs incurred.
As a general rule, companies shouldn't make the mistake of just looking at costs. Instead, shop operators should ask themselves questions such as: "What do I need for my online shop?", "How much effort do I want to put into a solid web shop and are the additional costs worthwhile?"
The answers to this will then be provided by an analysis of the various features and quality aspects. In the open source model, security, support and further development is an operational task of the user - which is difficult to reconcile with the strategic approach of a modern and long-term digitization strategy of large companies. Here, Magento Commerce licensing is the better choice.
Would you like to know more about Magento? Our free guide "Magento - The Business Compendium" offers all the important information about Magento on around 80 pages - so you too can become a Magento expert.
Images: Magento / netz98
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