Once you have decided to open an online e-commerce store powered by Magento 2, you have to choose the most suitable edition: Open Source, Commerce, or Commerce Cloud.

Each edition provides users with a specific set of features. So, the sure method to select a relevant edition is to identify your requirements and to relate them to the capabilities of Magento 2 Open Source, Commerce, and Commerce Cloud.

For this, let’s first consider these three editions one by one.

#1. Magento 2 Open Source Edition

Magento 2 Open Source Edition (formerly Magento 2 Community) is a Magento 2 platform that is available for everyone to download and install for free. Admin users can make configuration adjustments to the software to meet specific requirements of their companies. To access particular advanced functionality, merchants can extend the basic features of Magento 2 Open Source Edition with specially designed modules, such as those listed in our catalog.

We recommend Magento 2 Open Source to developing businesses, startups, and small stores as this edition can help you check the features and logic easily and with minimum expenses.

#2. Magento 2 Commerce Edition

Magento 2 Commerce Edition (previously known as Magento 2 Enterprise) gives users rich out-of-the-box features, an unlimited ability to customize, and seamless third-party integrations. It’s quite important that you can also get 24/7 email support.

Magento 2 Commerce Edition contains features for corporate account management and customer support, company credit management, customized catalogs and price lists, as well as tools for fast ordering and processing of online requests for quote.

Moreover, this Magento 2 edition offers one more outstanding feature – Content Staging – which allows creating, previewing, and scheduling a wide range of content updates directly from the Admin panel of your store. Content Staging can be used to create a dynamic page that changes automatically throughout the year on scheduled dates.

Magento 2 Commerce Edition suits B2B enterprises and stores with high customer traffic, large product catalogs, wide global presence, or high business complexity.

#3. Magento 2 Commerce Cloud Edition

Magento 2 Commerce Cloud Edition (earlier known as Enterprise Cloud Edition) is a managed and automated hosting platform specifically created for Cloud solutions. This version combines all Magento 2 Commerce features and adds enhanced Cloud infrastructure hosting, which now includes Git integration and key environments for development, staging, and live production. Put simply, the owners of this edition can code, test, and deploy across Integration, Staging, and Production environments to ensure a smooth performance of their stores.

Again, Magento 2 Commerce Cloud Edition is more suitable for large companies with complex requirements as this edition is flexible enough to cover all of them and offers a powerful admin experience.

And now, let’s compare these editions feature to feature.

Magento 2 Open Source vs. Magento 2 Commerce

Both Magento 2 Open Source and Magento 2 Commerce have the following capabilities:

  • Catalog Management;
  • Marketing, Promotions and Conversion Tools;
  • Customer Accounts;
  • Checkout, Payment, and Shipping;
  • Instant Purchase Checkout;
  • Magento Shipping;
  • Advanced Reporting powered by Magento Business Intelligence;
  • Analytics and Reporting;
  • Indexing, cart, and cache operations Improvements;
  • Integrated dotmailer marketing automation software;
  • Full Page Cache.

As for technology stack requirements, both editions support the latest versions of:

  • web servers – Apache 2.2 or 2.4 and nginx 1.x
  • PHP 7.0.2, 7.0.4, 7.0.6-7.1.x
  • Varnish 3.0.5; 4.x-5.x
  • MySQL 5.6, 5.7

Magento 2 Commerce exclusive features comprise:

  1. Catalog management (Category Permissions);
  2. Advanced marketing:
    • Promotions (Banners, Related Product Rules);
    • Merchandising (Visual Merchandiser, Gift Registry, Reward Points, Private Sales & Events (including countdown ticker), Store Credit, Gift Wrap);
    • Communications (Email Reminders);
    • SEO & Search (Google Tag Manager; Search Synonyms);
  3. Content (Banners, Content Staging);
  4. Customers (Customer Attributes, Customer Segments, Customer Address Attributes, Multiple WishLists per Customer);
  5. Sales (Order Achieves, RMA, Payment Methods (Cybersource, eWay, Wordplay));
  6. Reports based on Private Sales, WishLists, and Segments;
  7. Operations (Permissions to create different levels of access to the Admin; Admin Actions Log; Price and Promotion Permissions; Strong Data Encryption, Hashing, and Key Management; Support for Alternate Media Storage – CDN and Database; Staging, Merging and Rollback of Content; Backup and Rollback);
  8. B2B features (Company Accounts, Quick Orders by SKU or Product Name, Requisition Lists, Quotes, Payment on Account).

A full feature list is available here.

There are three selected features that make Magento 2 Commerce special:

  1. Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine. Elasticsearch performs quick and advanced searches on products in the catalog. One of the advantages is that indexing does not impact customers until re-indexing is complete. Elasticsearch is quite accurate, performant, and scalable, which is why it has replaced SOLR.
  2. Message Queue Framework is a system that allows a module to publish messages to queues. It also defines the consumers that will receive messages asynchronously. The Message Queue Framework uses RabbitMQ as the messaging broker, which provides a scalable platform for sending and receiving messages. It also includes a mechanism for storing undelivered messages.
  3. Split database performance solution is designed to improve Magento 2 scalability. It allows using three separate master databases for different functional areas of a Magento 2 application. This means checkout, orders, and product data can use separate master databases that you can optionally replicate. This separation independently scales load from website checkouts, order management activities, website browsing, and merchandising activities, depending on your needs. These changes provide considerable flexibility in how the database tier can be scaled.

As you see, Magento 2 Commerce Edition comprises much more features than Open Source Edition. Still, the latter is more customizable and empowers merchants to add the needed functionality with extensions. This makes you free to decide for which features to pay. If you do not need the whole list of Magento 2 Commerce features, pick only those that really matter for your business.

Magento 2 Commerce vs. Magento 2 Commerce Cloud

Magento 2 Commerce Cloud is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) built on a redundant AWS-based cloud hosting infrastructure. Unlike traditional SaaS e-commerce platforms, Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition is highly customizable, scalable, and considerably simplifies integration with third-party systems.

The platform comes with top-notch DevOps, release and cloud management tools and comprises all the features of Magento 2 Commerce. The only limitation is that Magento 2 Commerce Cloud does not support the split database performance solution.

We picked up several key advantages of Magento 2 Commerce Cloud:

  1. Fully configured environment. You do not need to care about server configuration with the correct version of server software, PHP, or database software compatibility with Magento 2. The only crucial thing to watch is a proper configuration of access to folders and files. If there is a necessity, additional tools can be pre-installed (for example, Elastic). As you see, Magento 2 Commerce Cloud simplifies server administration.
  2. Integrated source control management system (GIT) with the support for eight environments to develop, test, and launch your store:
    • Integration. The Integration environment set comprises three testable environments, each of which incorporates an active Git branch, a database, a web server, caching, services, environment variables, and configurations.
    • Staging. As code and extensions pass your tests, you can merge your Integration branch to a Staging environment, which becomes your pre-production testing environment. It includes a staging active branch, a database, a web server, caching, services, environment variables, configurations, and services, such as Fastly and New Relic.
    • Production. When code is ready and tested, all code merges to master for deployment to the Production live site. This environment comprises your active master branch, a database, a web server, caching, third-party services, environment variables, and configurations.

Such a system will help to configure the staging environment to test the extensions installed or any code changes with no effect on a live server. For sure, someone can argue that it’s possible to deploy a new instance, however, it is extremely labour- and time-consuming as you again need a server administrator for deployment and maintenance. What is more, an integrated source control management system stores all the changes, which allows rollback and guarantees the simplicity of tracking changes.

The advanced technologies used in Magento 2 Commerce Cloud deserve to be treated as advantages too:

  • Fastly for CDN and caching (based on Varnish);
  • Blackfire Profiler for performance testing;
  • New Relic APM for performance testing;
  • GitHub (if you need a Git repo);
  • Bitbucket (if you need a Git repo).

Among other benefits, automated patching and image optimization should be mentioned.

A final word

In conclusion, we advise you to pay attention to business volume, costs and the relevancy of customer support as key factors while choosing a Magento 2 edition. Whichever edition you choose, we hope that you’ll love the flexibility of Magento 2 – just as we do!

Special thanks to Alexey Motorny for the expertise that helped us bring this post to life.