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Interview: Tim Bezhashvyly on Magento Enterprise

Tim Bezhashvyly (@tim_bezhashvyly) caused quite some turmoil with his “Harsh Truth Of Magento Enterprise“-speech during the German Meet Magento conference. We managed to ask him some questions on the matter.

Hello Tim, for those not knowing you, what’s your involvement with Magento?

Hi. That’s the toughest question! Well, I’ve been working professionally with Magento for 4 years and also doing community work.

harsh truth of magento enterprise - the bottom line

The main points of Tim’s speech at Meet Magento Germany.

During MM14DE, you presented the audience with “The Harsh Truth of Magento Enterprise“. What exactly was your motivation?

From what I am seeing, Magento Enterprise Edition is heavily misused. My initial intention was to show its real use-cases. However, during the process I came to the conclusion that Magento EE is definitely not providing enough value for its price. Additionally, the set of features is nowhere near the “enterprise” label. So the real intention was to send a message to Magento that this business model is definitely not working and the direction has to be revised.

You received mixed reactions. Were you expecting the uproar it caused?

Magento means so much to me. I was absolutely aware of the effect my statement could have and I literally spent months evaluating all the cons and pros. However, this was something that had to be said. I’m not fine with glossing over the problems. Especially when it comes to something dear to me.

Some people called you out on bashing Magento Partner Agencies and making their jobs look shady. Did you intended to?

Well, I have some experience with some Magento Agencies here in Germany and this was one of the factors that inspired me to do this presentation. This is definitely not applicable to each and every agency. I spoke to some Gold partners afterwards and those who didn’t feel themselves guilty, appreciated the subject I raised. Because what “shady” agencies are doing, is ruining the general trust in Magento.

Stuffing merchants with EE when they don’t really need it, is not the way to go. This behavior was especially a thorn in my side after working 3 years in a Swiss company (Openstream) which was the most honest and transparent agency I ever dealt with.

what “shady” agencies are doing, is ruining the general trust in Magento

With all your arguments against, can a Magento Enterprise license ever be justified for a merchant?

Sadly, no. To me it seems quite obvious that the business model of Magento Enterprise is not working.

I was thinking a lot about it and the conclusion is disappointing. The current state of EE is poor from my viewpoint as a senior, experienced Magento developer. Only a few modules can be really called “enterprise”. Most of these features already have community analogues.

Even if more “enterprise”-worthy features are added, they will also be quickly ported to the free community edition by either fair developers or restless extension vendors. The only use-case for Magento EE is the fact (which is sadly quite common) that some large merchants are quite skeptic about free software and need someone they can sue in case of problems. Well, I can understand this but it is not really a reason for EE its existence, at least in its current state.

In my presentation, I proposed cancelling Enterprise Edition and selling all enterprise extensions as separate modules. They can and should be listed quite expensive; like two to three times higher than analogues of third-party vendors. People will still buy them if the quality and support is guaranteed. Extensions developed by the same team working on the Magento core, would be highly preferred over community versions.

Of course, this is not realistic. Who will reject already established income from EE customers? That’s why I consider this situation to be both sad and unsolvable.

Tim on stage during Meet Magento 2014 DE

Tim on stage during MM14DE (Flickr)

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

Besides EE, it looks like the things are finally changing for the better with Magento. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been in tight contact with the Magento staff and what I learned, is that we are possibly on the verge of a serious breakthrough in community involvement. Even though there is not much visible from the outside, Magento is seriously rethinking its direction.

Good things may come.

We would like to thank Tim for his time and thorough answers. Slides of his original presentation are available, but note that they don’t have much context without his speech.

  • SR WWL

    I think Tim’s view is wrong because it discounts the fact that EE cross subsidises Community Edition. While I agree personally that EE is not good value when compared with CE, it is excellent value when compared with Hybris, ATG, IBM Websphere, and fair value when compared with Bigcommerce etc. nThe fact that Magento/ebay want to make revenue from Magento EE so that they can afford to provide CE free is a good thing, otherwise there would be no CE. nThe fact that merchants choose EE or that agencies recommend it, is not the fault of Magento. They are providing software that clearly is in demand. Another way of viewing this issue would be “Thank goodness for Enterprise Edition because it allows Community Edition to exist and be so great”.

    • sylvainraye

      At first thought, I join your idea saying: “Companies paying the EE helps having CE for free”. Fundamentally, you’re right. I will even add, some companies are thinking that something which has no price, has no value.nnWhat you forget is Magento Inc. is not rentable with the EE. I was at the MagentoLive in Munich, Roy Rubin put the number of 2500 EE Shops, what the hell? 2 500 * ~15 000 / Year = 37.5M USD / year compared to the size of Ebay and his turnover (several hundred Billions USD), Magento is a playskool toy, just a hobby.nneBay has much interest to sale their services or integrate them into Magento instead to try to sale EE licenses but do not forget “something which has no price, has no value”. I tend to think that it was the idea when eBay acquired Magento: be at any level in the ecommerce and bind their services (Paypal is a good example).nnSo the EE still need to exist however the model could be improved: have an efficient customer support and warranty, higher Business class Extensions or having a more transparent partner program. Set CE edition with pre-installed Ebay services may also help to raise the rentability. nnImproving the business model of Magento was the main goal of Tim’s speech and I do not think it will have consequences on CE because CE must stay the entry point to the Magento ecosystem. However, cause of the current available additional features in EE and their equivalent in CE world, it’s difficult to argue to jump into the EE when you started with the CE edition, it really needs an added value, this part is missing in my point of view. The ONLY positive argument I have for EE is that Magento is responsible against their licensed customer in case of revenue looses in case of software issue which is not at all warranty with CE.

    • tim_bezhashvyly

      Debian, Ubuntu, Drupal, WordPress, Typo3, Joomla, Shopware, Symfony, Yii and many other are existing w/o a commercial product. Some of them are developing much faster then Magneto and have at least not worser architecture. Think about it.

  • alankent

    One point I did not see raised here is the legal side of things. I am not a lawyer, but includes “…Magento shall indemnify and defend Licensee against any claims made by a third party…”. You need to read the surrounding text, but that reads to me an EE license is also an insurance policy against some forms of legal action that could be taken against your business (I guess by patent trolls or similar?). (Personal opinion, not that of my employer.)

    • tim_bezhashvyly

      This can be resolved by dual licensing, not dual codebase. If I’m not mistaken MySQL, RedHat and many others took that path.

      • alankent

        Magento does effectively have dual licensing for most of code base. I was saying that I believe EE license *also* is indemnity protection even if you don’t use EE modules. I don’t have details, but I think ebay legal has stepped in to protect some EE customers from patent trolls in the past. I was just pointing out that this aspect of the EE license was not mentioned and does represent value.nn(oh, and Magento 2 most likely will be identical code with dual license strings in it – easier with composer, easier for extension developers in terms of extension compatibility testing, and easier for anyone who chooses to upgrade from CE to EE.)

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  • levashov

    Even if we forget about Magento and look into issue from retailer’s prospective, IMO while Tim has some valid points, fundamentally he is wrong. If we compare EE with its community clone (CE version that extended to have similar functionality) we should think little bit beyond the pure price of the extensions we need to buy:n- time and cost to install these extensions and resolve possible conflicts;n- time and cost to educate clients how to use that extensions (EE comes with trainings);n- time and cost to optimize CE performance to the level that is out of the box in EEnnnFurthermore, if we think a bit about the future, we may need to consider costs of the other issues:n- transition between agencies or employees (the heavier the customization – more time/$$$ for it);n- cost to update extensions and make them compatible with new versions of Magento CE. Recent 1.9 release is pretty good example;n- absence of CMS vendor support with CE;n- need to deal with dozen support teams of extension vendors instead of one;nnnIf you factor all these things and understand that for big businesses the time is money, because downtime, poor performance and longer development time may cost them much more money than EE licence cost, Magento EE isn’t a bad deal.nnnOf cause EE isn’t for every merchant, smaller businesses can be perfectly fine with CE.

    • tim_bezhashvyly

      I’m sorry but I absolutely have no passion to write a detailed response to this nonsense. The one thing I agree is I was wrong. Magento EE is not as bad as I described, it’s even worse. In few months I will have a presentation called “Disgusting Truth of Magento Enterprise” which will correct my softness in Leipzig.nnnAnd keep on up-voting your own posts. It helps.

  • levashov

    I wrote an expanded version of my comment why IMO Tim isn’t correct at