In my open letter to the Magento community, I shared my experiences as well as those of other businesses in our ecosystem, about how Magento has been arm-twisting online merchants into buying their hosted cloud platform (Magento Cloud) and keeping partners in the dark about where Magento Commerce Cloud and the broader community are headed, among other things. We are thankful for the overwhelming support and agreement we received from the community. Interestingly though, most of the feedback was received privately for fear of repercussions from Magento and we completely understand their challenge. Magento, the platform, puts food on their table.
Many of our partners and community members were genuinely interested in our recommendations for what could change. So this post is going to be about just that. Based on our own experiences and conversations within the Magento community, here are five things we really want Magento (and their parent Adobe) to address:
- Address the Strategic Gap. Communicate Magento’s, now murky, online strategy proactively with merchants, developers, and partners alike: In 2018, Magento was acquired by Adobe. Why? Because for Adobe, it made sense to provide an extension to its own Experience Suite and expand into the digital commerce space, a trillion-dollar market with an exponential growth rate.Adobe’s own strategy is well-understood to be 100% hosted and delivered as SaaS. Adobe has done that with its Creative Cloud suite and it continues to do so with all of its other offerings. But is Magento really a fully-hosted digital commerce suite and can it ever be?It is well documented that, to take an offline platform and convert it into a 100% fully-hosted digital commerce suite, you have to do it from the ground up – something that, we believe, Adobe has become painfully aware of, over the past year with Magento. What Adobe was sold on when it bought Magento, was perhaps the “concept” of Magento Commerce Cloud with a few examples of smaller brands. We believe, over the last year, however, Adobe has realized that Magento may not be as cloudy as originally forecast. Magento Cloud is essentially a bunch of disparate (and single-tenant, but more on that later) pieces of technology from multiple vendors that don’t work well together at scale.
It made me wonder why Magento just didn’t fix its technology, scale, and support problems. They’re all likely fixable with a price tag. That’s when it dawned on me that this is, perhaps, just a temporary state of being. Adobe’s final goal might be to take pieces of the Magento code (which is mostly written by the open source community), and to build a truly multi-tenant Adobe version of it. How long before things settle? In my opinion, the great reveal will most likely be sometime in 2022, or maybe even as late as 2027. Adobe itself is a brilliant example of an on-premise-to-cloud transition, albeit for software with a single user, not millions of distributed consumers worldwide. Their original transition from Photoshop et al to Creative Suite, according to this blog, took about 5 years (2007 – 2013) and this Magento journey may just take twice that time, if ever.
But in the meantime, Adobe needs to hold on to as many Magento customers as possible – and control them – in a fully hosted cloud environment (read, waiting room), so that, someday, they can be ‘seamlessly’ transitioned into the new Adobe-Magento-Cloud world – one that is built in-house, fully integrated, and does justice to the concept of multi-tenant, scalable SaaS with enterprise-class support.
Now what I would like to know is this – how happy are Magento Cloud customers in this waiting room? There are enough examples and customer reviews that show us that they are miserable. The cost of a forced re-platform from Magento 1 to Magento 2 runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that is a blog for another day.
Magento customers prefer to have a say in their own destiny – their cloud, hosting strategy, and spend. When Adobe ultimately comes out with the ‘perfect’ cloud solution, they will probably be a strong competitor to fully-hosted platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, and BigCommerce – and that is when a customer should consider them as one of the fully-hosted platform options.
While we may be right or wrong in our understanding of Adobe’s Magento strategy, there are no two ways about where Magento Cloud customers are today – waiting – and like it or not, all waiting rooms stink of uncertainty and pain.
It is time. Adobe needs to clearly communicate its strategy, plans, and timelines for Magento Cloud to online merchants, developers, and partners, and ask its aggressive sales teams to back off and give customers and partners the freedom to decide and go with what is right for them, today. Forcing customers and partners to lock into an unnamed strategy is unfair and self-absorbed.
- Address the Technology Gap – Auto Scale: Magento’s website lists “proactive monitoring and scaling” as a key feature for Magento Cloud.Auto-scaling is a must-have for an e-commerce storefront with variable traffic patterns. If merchants wanted a static hosting environment (and didn’t need auto-scaling), they would have stayed with Rackspace, ZeroLag, Peer1, or Nexcess. One of the primary reasons they go to the public cloud, however, is that they need to scale with demand. A cloud, by definition, is a utility that you should be able to consume as-you-go. If you cannot consume it on demand, it’s not a cloud, it’s a static hosting provider.Magento does not auto-scale. Period. Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce clearly cautions users, stating, “Magento Commerce is a single-tenant SaaS currently available exclusively on AWS (support for Azure is coming later in 2019) that lacks key functions such as auto-scaling. As an alternative, organizations can “self-host” on any IaaS provider via an on-premises deployment — but should be aware that CloudOps tools are not available.” What remains unsaid, is that the Magento sales team will make it exceptionally hard to get a self-hosted license, price it above a cloud license, or even stop responding to customers for months.
Secondly, if Magento Cloud goes about enabling unlimited auto-scaling for each one of its thousands of customers, your guess is as good as mine about where things end up, given their fixed monthly pricing. During the holidays or times like Black Friday, when some merchants can experience ten times the usual site traffic and everything gets scaled out, they might continue paying Magento $3,000 a month, but their AWS bill becomes $10,000 or more! We have seen this happen to customers in the past, and you need predictive auto-scaling to get it right.
The fundamental problem here is that Magento Cloud is single-tenant. This is because all of the components that make up Magento Cloud, with the exception of Fastly, are single-tenant, even Platform.sh, despite the fact that they are marketed as a PaaS.
Adobe needs to fundamentally re-architect the platform and eliminate dependence on other technology providers like Platform.sh that make up the so-called Magento Commerce Cloud.
- Fix Customer Support: If a Magento Cloud customer faces site downtime, performance slowdown, a cybersecurity incident, or any other issue, they open a ticket. But Magento is a software company or a business unit within a larger software company; they do not seem to understand CDN issues, security, or scale. So based on the ticket, Magento forwards or assigns it to one of their technology partners. Thus, even though the merchant has deployed an integrated solution bought on a Magento contract, they will now have to work with disparate technology providers for issue resolution. Even worse, merchants have to figure out issues on their own if they want a resolution.Magento needs to hire customer support professionals with cloud infrastructure, hosting, content delivery (CDN), application security, DDoS mitigation, web application firewall (WAF), and DevOps expertise, as a temporary fix, until they re-architect the entire platform.
- Fix Security: Single-tenancy leads to limited cybersecurity. When you are working in isolated instances, there is no scope for shared learnings across the customer base – these learnings do not go back to the engineering team at Magento and help them eliminate certain types of vulnerabilities. Furthermore, patches cannot be auto-installed for all customers simultaneously. It is up to the merchant or multiple layers of partners to implement a patch and roll it out, and it often happens with significant delays and downtime. So merchants are now running sites with known vulnerabilities for weeks, if not months.There is no temporary fix here.
- Fix Magento Cloud Sales’ Attitude: As I said earlier, Magento Cloud customers must have a say in their own destiny. They should not be forced to relinquish control of their choice of hosting, cloud provider, or spend. Above all, they should not feel locked up or in a “waiting room.”Strong-arming merchants, developers, and partners, is not cool. Adobe should offer them the benefits of Magento’s Cloud platform, by all means, but not straitjacket them into doing it. Instances of pricing issues, inflated numbers, long delays in responses, the same pricing for hosted and non-hosted, and worse still, heavy increases at the anniversary dates are well known sales tactics deployed by this team.The Adobe top brass may want to have a candid chat with the Magento Cloud sales team, lest they run a risk of denting Adobe’s otherwise great reputation.
Dear Magento community, we all want the same thing. We want Magento as a platform and as a community to be loved and respected worldwide. That is not happening right now. The community is hurting and Adobe alone can help right this ship, lest it sink with all of us in it. We’ve offered some suggestions – we’d love to hear yours!