Magento Enterprise and Magento Community – the key differences

5 years ago

By Mark

I recently had a demonstration of Magento Enterprise Edition, from the team at Varien. The demonstration and conversation were very helpful, so I thought I’d blog some of the key points.

Magento is now offered in 2 editions:

  • The free open source Community Edition
  • The paid-for Enterprise Edition

Both are based on the same Magento Core code, which will be kept in parallel ongoing, The differences with the Enterprise Edition break down into 2 categories:

  • The support for the code
  • Additional plug-ins and modules that are not available in the Community Edition

Support for the Code
The Enterprise Edition comes with a warranty and a service level agreement. If you have a problem with the core code (not plug-ins you’ve installed yourself, or your own templates, and you mustn’t change the core code) Varien will help you solve the problem. They prioritise the support depending on business impact to you, so if you’re losing money because the core is broken, they will respond faster than if it’s something not working in Chrome or Safari, for example. This isn’t the same as a service level agreement to keep your eCommerce operation running: retailers will need someone like Pod1 to offer them that, as Varien don’t operate the site for you, only provide support on their core code.

Enterprise also comes with legal protection from a variety of issues, but the main ones seem to be about intellectual property. If someone was to take legal action against a retailer or an implementer like Pod1, arguing that the code in Magento belonged to them, Varien would protect us if we’d signed up for the Enterprise Edition. I don’t personally see the indemnity protection as being all that valuable, to be honest, as Varien’s open source license would already give us a reason to pass on liability if something like this did happen. The indemnity won’t cover you for useful things like loss of personal data about clients, or lost revenue because the code didn’t work.

Varien says fixes to the code will be made first in Enterprise, then rolled out to Community.

Finally, Varien are pursuing PCI compliance for the Enterprise Edition, under the PA-DSS scheme, which will mean that the application itself will be PCI compliant. This is different from what Pod1 is pursuing on PCI, which is making our implementations (hosting plus procedures plus code) compliant. PA-DSS would be very useful to Pod1 and its clients, and it’s an important part of our PCI strategy.

Additional Modules
There are some interesting additional modules in the Enterprise Edition:

  • Private sales, which allows retailers to restrict access to stores and offers to selected customers, and to manage the launch and termination of private sales.
  • Access to the back-end can be controlled at the website or store level, where in the Community Edition you can only restrict access at the function / module level. This is very useful for multi-store Magento installations.
  • The ability to merge and combine content from one store with another, and to use this facility to create a content staging environment. Instead of having 2 instances of Magento (as we do with some clients at present) one for the next catalog, one for the current catalog, you could do all this in one installation, which is a very interesting development, especially for larger retailers.
  • A full audit trail of all admin actions. Very useful.
  • Gift card and store card functionality which allows electronic gift cards to be sold and used on Magento stores.
  • Store credit functions, for example allowing a contact centre to make an ex gratia payment to a shopper in the event of a complaint.
  • Enhanced security in line with PCI recommendations, with things like password expiry for administrators.

These features all look interesting and potentially useful, and I think we can expect the list to continue to grow. The idea is that ultimately everything ends up in the Community Edition, but that Enterprise will always be ahead and the most up to date version you can get.

We are working with some clients on Magento Enterprise implementations alongside our Community Edition projects, and we’ll continue to recommend the right version on a client by client basis.

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