Magento Enterprise Edition: How to Stifle a Growing Community

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Yesterday Varien announced Magento Enterprise Edition, which is a commercially-licensed e-commerce platform built on their free open source version.  From Varien’s standpoint, I can understand their need to monetize their product, however I feel this is a big disappointment to the growing Magento development community.  With over to 750,000 downloads in less than a year, Magento’s growth has been quick and has gained a ton of momentum from developers and critics.  What better way to totally reverse that momentum by locking up the best features in a premium version and slapping a huge pricetag on it ($8,900 A YEAR?!).

From a developer’s standpoint, I was really looking forward to a lot of the features that were being hyped up by the team on the roadmap and/or forums (specifically the gift cards).  Now that a lot of beneficial features will be locked up in an expensive premium version, I expect to see that excitement and momentum from the community fade.

I liken Magento Enterprise Edition to Trickle Down Economics.  Varien will argue that developing these new features for the premium version will have a positive impact on the rest of the Magento community.  Those features will essentially trickle down into the free version over time and everyone will benefit from them. But I feel the reality is that as long as Varien is profiting from those advanced features, there’s absolutely no incentive for them to release them to the rest of the community until they’ve made their buck.  Varien will be the gatekeeper and will control the growth of the community.

Despite the “Commitment to Open Source” paragraph in their announcement, the fact remains now they have to split their attention between their community version and their commercial version.  Varien knows that its community is its biggest asset, so why alienate its passionate user base by moonlighting on a premium product?   Their release of a commercial version muddies its relationship with their community.  In forum discussions Magento team members are amazing resources.  Now that they have premium features, can they fully support the community without giving away their premium features/advice/info?  Will community demand for a certain feature result in a feature that will be released to the community version, or will Varien develop it themselves for their premium version?

It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.  How many people will jump on board with Magneto Enterprise Edition? How will the community react?  How will the development of Magento change now that there are multiple versions?

I continue to look forward developing websites using Magento. I think its a fantastic platform with a host of great tools and a ton of potential.  But I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Mozilla came out with a “premium” version of Firefox when version 2 was released.  Would Firefox 3 be what it is today?  Is Varien stifling the growth of its open source community?


  1. agreed. i was just revisiting magento for a client and i was stunned to find a $8900 price tag. that’s enough for me to walk away.

    • Hi SR,
      While the price tag for the enterprise version is unfortunate, they still do offer a free community version of the platform available here. The community version is stable and has a ton of great features and I would highly recommend building your ecommerce site using Magento. My main concern with the introduction of the enterprise edition is that Varien’s resources will be directed at developing the enterprise version instead of investing the time in the community version. Again, Magento is a fantastic platform and the community is very much alive so you should reconsider using Magento for your client’s project.

  2. Magento is DEAD…I call for a fork!

    I hope someone will fork Magento or at least make free, open source alternatives for those “premium” features. We were promised “Customer File Upload” support a few versions ago & I think it’s finally there, but it’s only a basic file uploader, no progress bar, no APC_UPLOAD_PROGRESS support, nothing, just a basic upload form for our customers to wonder WTF is taking so long when they submit. Magento ate their own ass releasing the Enterprise version.

    I’m fine with companies (Microshit, or any other billion-dollar company) paying $8,900/yr or more FOR SERVICE-LEVEL AGREEMENTS or other frilly crap I don’t need, but Magento got its start on OPEN SOURCE & all the FEATURES should be in the free version…I want administrator roles, logging, customer file upload (with progress bar!), all the features, I do not want or need an SLA or ANYTHING that would cost $8,900/yr…$8,900 is too much for a ONE TIME payment, let alone PER YEAR…$8,900 per year is ridiculous!

    So Magento, back down NOW or lose all your users, paid & FREE…

    Magento, the shopping cart Varien killed… :’-( …greedy bastards…

    Brad: all comment forms need a preview, plz

  3. Thanks this was a good read

  4. How do you manage the taxes in Magento? I mean how do you apply the discounts.. Any tips?

  5. consultant

    Before you stick a fork in it, it would be interesting to see how much consulting would cost in a community edition to make it functionally equivalent to the enterprise edition.

    The cost of the enterprise edition does not at all seem unreasonable from that point of view.

    Further, take a look at MySQL (pre acquisition) and the TWO models they successfully used to support the Open Source community and make some money from “BIG ENTERPRISE” (a nominal sum was charged in comparison to Oracle annual maintenance).

    Just because a company who has a big open source presence charges a license does not mean it will die. This concept is called capitalism. It equates to product packaging. People and companies should not expect everything for free. What consumers SHOULD expect is commoditization of a product over time. I would say that Magento folks have taken a stab at that, and I wish them well.

  6. Hi,

    How to configure Affiliate programming in Magento??
    Looking for help on this.. 🙂

    – Thanks deepti

  7. Looking to offer store credits as affiliate payouts in magento, anyone who has insight into this please contact me.

  8. Now, the magento-EE price is start from $14420. :~)

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