Magento 1.x – Community or Enterprise?
Magento is my number one, when it comes to recommending an e-Commerce solution. From among a whole range of out-of-the-box (more or less sophisticated) e-Commerce engines, Magento comes with the greatest room for development. Needless to say, in a competitive market it’s the key aspect of every on-line sales strategy. Sooner or later, if only you are performing well, delivering new functionalities comes handy. And what if you’re just starting? Well, for a good start you’ll get a stable technology with a bunch of great modules from the growing community. Still sounds better than other solutions ?.
Ok, I hope my recommendation is enough for us to advance with the subject. You can have a million of questions about your new e-Commerce solution (we found 100 and one ourselves, check out our publication), but there is still one more – Magento Community or Enterprise? These two editions of Magento don’t differ significantly, but the word “enterprise” implies that you will get something better. I will help you make the right decision. Today we’ll compare the 1.x branch, which, despite the kickoff of the Magento 2.x version is still the most popular, and most commonly used in implementations.
Let’s start with the bad news (at least for some of you, though it shouldn’t be a big surprise). The main difference between the CE (Community Edition) and the EE (Enterprise Edition) versions is the license fee. The cost of Enterprise Edition depends mainly on server architecture (the number of servers). According to official information, the basic annual cost is about $15,000 + additional $12,000 for subsequent servers. It’s easy to count that with a lot of traffic come rather large expenses.
To sweeten up the deal, apart from additional functionalities there’s a technical support included in this price, which may be attractive for default instances.
As for the Community Edition, it’s free of charge, regardless of the server architecture.
There’s a myth in the IT industry that Magento is a true demon, that feeds on the power of servers. And it’s a total… well, let’s just say I disagree. First of all, server costs have dropped enough to be negligible. Of course, with high traffic costs are increasing, but high traffic usually means revenue, so it’s still not too bad.
The second cause is related to IT companies. Long story short, not every company could do its job properly. This caused very large drops in performance and it’s much easier to avoid such errors in other e-Commerce solutions, but this does not seem to be a problem of Magento itself.
Either way, store performance is definitely crucial, and loading times for individual pages should be as low as it can be. The EE version by default wins with the Community Edition because it is better prepared for high traffic:
- the database can be distributed on few servers,
- there are some additional cache mechanisms,
- indexing processes are improved.
In general, we can also achieve such effects in the Community version, but it requires additional work and quite advanced knowledge of Magento. Either way, in both versions, if you are expecting high traffic, you need a good IT environment (which, as mentioned before, may cost you extra in the case of the EE).
What should you choose?
The Enterprise Edition was prepared for more developed organizations. Therefore, developers tried to provide users with more modules than with the CE version. The key ones are:
- better permission management,
- better content management,
- different checkout,
- RMA module,
- SOLR integration.
Again, note that it doesn’t mean you cannot have such functionalities in the CE (most of them are available in Magento Connect). But it’s related to additional cost (at the very least you need to buy modules and install them).
Summary and author’s opinion
The differences between the boxed versions of both Magento editions are quite clear. The annual fee comes with a more advanced system and a technical support. The platform itself should also withstand higher traffic. On the other hand, the cost is high. In my opinion your decision should be based on one additional aspect – namely the number of modifications you plan to implement within your store. If you already know that you will need very individual solutions, it is worth considering whether the advantages of the EE version will not disappear. In particular, the technical support (which may not be too helpful with a heavily modified platform) and performance. To summarize, do the math:
- 4 server instance (3x app + 1x db),
- project planned for 5 years.
Calculating lightly, the license itself will cost about $250 000. It is a lot of money that can be spent on the development of your platform (in fact, you’ll get more, extra functionalities at this price than what comes with the EE)). Regardless of your choice, remember to look for the right company for implementation, otherwise all this efficiency and technical support will be ruined.
Next time – Magento 2.x ?