Pick Your Platform: Is Magento Community or Enterprise Better for Your Business?

Published June 3rd, 2014 by Michael Farin

You know you need an e-commerce platform. You’ve settled on Magento. (That was a smart choice, by the way.) But what version of the famous e-commerce platform is better for your business needs – Community or Enterprise?

To answer that question, you have to take a bigger look at your business: what are your needs, goals, budget and overall objectives? And how much IT manpower, time and resources do you have to spare?

Community vs. Enterprise

The Community version of Magento is the free, open-source version of the platform, which does not include tech support. (However, you can access the online Magento forums for some peer-to-peer assistance.) Enterprise, on the other hand, is the premium, “pay to play” version of the ecommerce software: for a fee, you get expert support, plus considerably faster performance.

The question is, which is worth more to you?

If you have knowledgeable IT personnel and the time and expertise necessary to maintain the free version of the software, Magento Community may be right for you. But keep in mind, free sometimes means “free.” (We’ve said this before.) “Free” software includes a lot of hidden costs: time, manpower, support, sometimes hardware purchases. If you have the infrastructure in place to be able to maintain the free version of Magento, more power to you. But make that decision carefully.

Performance Considerations

Magento Enterprise does cost a little more upfront – but, as is the case with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Not only does Enterprise include professional support from Magento’s designers (saving you time, hidden costs and headaches), it’s also calibrated to ensure faster page load times. (Customers now expect web pages to load in under two seconds, according to Magento.) Sites using Magento Enterprise, see a clear load time advantage, as opposed to sites running Community: in Enterprise, pages load up to 65% faster, as well as reducing loads on the server for 30% better traffic handling. (We don’t need to tell you how positively this impacts the customer experience.)

For smaller sites that aren’t handling a huge amount of traffic, Magento Community may be just fine. But if you’re anticipating a lot of activity on your e-commerce site, you’re much better off with Enterprise.

Hosting Issues

No matter which edition of Magento you choose, it’s vital to pick a capable hosting company. A good e-commerce host can smooth out a lot of the performance and tech support issues you’ll experience with Magento Community, and can keep the faster, more complex Magento Enterprise version up and running 24/7. (The more capabilities a platform has, the more potential it has for “interesting” problems.) Pick a company with a proven Magento track record: this e-commerce platform has always required special handling.

For our post on spotting fake Magento hosting reviews, click here.

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