A Magento 1 Sunset is on the Horizon as Magento 1 End of Life Approaches
Magento 1.x has been the lifeblood of many E-commerce businesses over the last decade, however, all good things must come to an end. With the release of Magento 2, software updates for the 1.x environment will eventually cease. That doesn’t mean that a Magento Community site will breakdown, but rather, the Magento team won’t be focused on releasing new features, or perhaps new security patches. As Magento 1.x is extremely popular on market, exactly what the sunset will mean is still a bit of an unknown. What we do now know is the proposed date for this transition.
The date has been set 3 years after the release of Magento 2, which puts the end of life at November 18, 2018 according to Paul Boisvert, Magento’s Head of Product Management. Given that Magento 2 had a rough release, we had hoped that the retirement date would take into account the time when many merchants were compelled to still build Magento 1 websites, but as of the writing of this article, that does not seem to be the case. We are hopeful that even if new features are not released for the Magento 1 environment after that date, that security patches will be for an additional period of time, but we have no indication of that so far.
June 8th, 2017:
In meeting with Magento’s team at IRCE, we’ve been told that more news should be available in approximately two weeks or so. We’ve also been told to anticipate that any security patches put out for Magento Enterprise will include support for Magento Community as well, so Magento CE users should not feel like they may get left behind while Magento EE users continue to receive patches.
Sites will still need to [try to] upgrade to PHP 7 to stay secure regardless, and Magento 1 Extension development is still likely to stagnate, which may push many merchants to leave Magento 1 regardless of the sunset date.
In the meantime, Magento has put out a new security patch (for both Magento 1 and 2), known as SUPEE-9767. It looks like another dud, like a few other patches and upgrades in the last couple of years. According to our friends at MageMojo:
“We’ve received information from Magento that there will be a version 2 of patch SUPEE-9767. This new version will resolve some potential issues that are caused by the initial version.”
The Magento team has confirmed on their site:
“Magento received reports that customer registration after checkout might fail if option to ‘Enable Form Key Validation On Checkout’ is enabled. This results in customers not being registered, but checking out as guests. Magento is working on updated version of the patch.”
While such things can certainly happen, and there are some potential workarounds, we know that it will only serve to get merchants to further question whether Magento is the right environment for them. For a great many, it is, as it’s a robust and effective platform. However, for merchants that just want to sell products, and not get bogged down in development issues and bugs, other options may prevail. We’ve provided more information about such options later in this article.
We’ll be anxiously awaiting more news from the Magento team.
On May 30th, 2017, The Magento team released a new blog post titled “Ongoing Magento 1 Support“. This short post directly describes that Magento’s customers will continue to be supported, and will receive 18 months notice before that would change. They also describe continuing to make Magento 1 available to merchants.
This does not retract previous statements from the Magento team and does not specifically suggest that they’ll be investing into security patches and updates after the announced End of Life (EOL) date, at least not for Magento Community users.
Keep in mind that Magento Community, the version used by the vast majority of E-commerce websites powered by Magento, is free open-source software. They wouldn’t be in much of a position to deny it to anyone. When they describe supporting their customers, the Magento team is often focused on Magento Enterprise, which comes with significant licensing fees. The Magento team can choose not to renew software and support licenses for versions of Magento Enterprise.
It is good to know that Magento Enterprise users will continue to get the support that they’re paying for, but it’s less clear what support Magento Community users can look forward to. So far, this message is too vague to establish exactly what support will be provided to whom, especially without retractions of an End of Life (EOL) date that they’ve chosen to promote publicly.
We’ll continue to err on the side of caution until more information becomes available. As best as we can tell through a mix of direct and indirect channels, the Magento team themselves are addressing a Magento 1 End of Life as an ongoing topic, and are leaving doors open to allow their stance to evolve.
With all of that in mind, we still recommend that businesses look to budget for and plan for a migration off of Magento 1. Even if the Magento 1 End of Life does wind up temporarily delayed, merchants will still have to contend with PHP version sunsets, less focus from Magento Extension Developers on Magento 1 as they focus on 2, and so forth.
As more information becomes available, we’ll continue to update this post.
While there was no public talk of changing this sunset date as part of any of the General Sessions at this year’s Magento Imagine conference, on the last day of the conference [April 5th, 2017], I was able to get a few minutes with Paul Boisvert to touch on this topic, as we know that it’s extremely important to our clients. While @ProductPaul was not able to provide any defined changes to this sunset date, it was obvious that he cared deeply about merchants using the Magento platform, and the Magento community at large. I’m led to believe that Paul and his team will sincerely push to help make sure that Magento 1.x users aren’t completely left in a lurch in November 2018. What support will come, and how it will come is still an unknown, but it’s good to know that it’s an active topic being tackled. We hope to know more soon.
It is worth noting that PHP 5.6, which is a web server software used by a majority of actively managed Magento 1.x websites (older versions of PHP are already sunset), will only receive security updates until December 31, 2018. If you’re a Magento merchant, and you’re still on a version of PHP 5.x, and security is as important to you as we firmly believe that it should be, you’ll want to re-platform to Magento 2 or another platform at that time, or have your developers work to test your site in PHP 7.x and address any compatibility issues. Magento 1.x does not currently support PHP 7.x by default, and many Magento 1.x extensions (especially older extensions) were not written to be compatible either. PHP 7 will bring performance increases and should lead to loading speed improvements for many merchants, providing an avenue for Return on Investment (ROI) from this upgrade.
Overall, the vibe from Magento’s upper echelon is that they’re continuing to strive up-market, fighting for market share with Hybris and Demandware, while not recognizing the overall risks to their core customer base that other mid-market platforms are posing. Magento has flourished in an environment where developers and agencies have been their cheerleaders and evangelists, and in which, their product speaks for itself. With other platforms speaking louder, and merchants frustrated by prior Magento issues, we hope that Magento’s executives take stock in the value of their market share. For example, SaaS platforms connect to Magento first, not only because it’s a good platform, but because of the volume of serious merchants using Magento. Similarly, hosts strive to support Magento because of the volume of available clients – which would be eroded if such merchants switched to a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. Magento has enjoyed a seat at the head of the table for a long time, and will hopefully continue to look at the playing field with open eyes, in order to avoid pitfalls that many in the Magento community are seeing on the horizon.
Magento has officially closed the Magento Connect extension portal. Those trying to access Magento Connect to browse or search for extensions will now be redirected to the new Magento Marketplace website. The Marketplace is undoubtedly a better site to search for Magento Extensions, however, as of now there are approximately 950 Magento 1 extensions listed. That’s a fraction of the extensions that were listed in Magento Connect. While you can go directly to the websites of extension developers to purchase and download extensions, Magento 1 users will be more reliant on sites like Google to find such extensions. On the other hand, the extensions listed in the Magento Marketplace are being reviewed by the Magento team for quality control purposes, so by focusing on extensions available in the marketplace, you’re more likely to avoid poorly coded extensions.
While Magento Marketplace offers a better experience to Magento store owners, we do see this change as another factor that will continue to push merchants to Magento 2 or another platform. There are already over 1,200 Magento 2 Extensions in the marketplace. We’re seeing more growth opportunities for users on Magento 2, and less on Magento 1.
What should merchants do to prepare for Magento 1 reaching its End of Life (EOL)?
For merchants with a Magento 1 website, this will mean that they will become more reliant on teams like ours, great hosts that truly specialize in the platform, security teams like Sucuri, 6scan, Sitelock, Centrora, and SiteGuarding, and extension development teams. Businesses with Magento 1 websites will need to have a plan of action to address potential issues, such as newly discovered security vulnerabilities Magento themselves may not prevent patches for.
Alternatively, merchants will need to consider an eventual rebuild. That is not to suggest that a site will become unviable on the end of life date. Magento plays a limited role in supporting sites today, especially those built on Magento Community. However, it would make sense to start creating a re-build plan in advance, and strategically deciding when to act on that plan.
In rebuilding, organizations may choose Magento 2. It is the latest and greatest version of Magento after all, although as of April 6th, 2017, there are over 2,000 open Issues listed in GitHub for Magento 2. It’s considered stable overall, but there are still a good number of kinks being worked out.
In some cases, merchants may decide to switch between the Community and Enterprise versions of Magento as part of an upgrade to Magento 2. Keep in mind that you’d need to purchase new Magento 2 extensions, install them, address frontend designs, migrate data, and address other setup for a successful launch. There is no “one-click” upgrade. If you’re using 3rd party SaaS platforms and API connectors, you may also find that not all vendors are ready for Magento 2 yet. This may make it harder and more costly to adopt for some.
You may also choose to go in an entirely new direction if you found Magento to have friction points for your business. Every platform has its Pros and Cons, and Magento is no different. While we’re huge fans of Magento, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. We’ve laid out a few alternative ideas that you may want to consider:
Zoey offers a SaaS Magento environment, with a more user-friendly admin panel. This allows for much more control by the user, without needing to maintain the software versions, security, and hosting. Zoey even has a strong B2B feature set. As Magento Experts, Rand’s team can help you with a full deployment.
BigCommerce is a unique SaaS platform that will help with Migrating data and has more features out-of-the-box than most of its competitors. It’s built with speed and marketing in mind. Between Rand Marketing and BigCommerce, you’re in great hands.
WooCommerce is an E-commerce platform that plugs into WordPress, allowing those that need a strong frontend and simplified SMB E-commerce site to enjoy the flexibility and benefits of WordPress. Our team has launched several WooCommerce sites for clients.
Miva can provide a completely custom E-commerce experience on one of the industries most tried and tested platforms. With a team like Rand to help with design and marketing, and Miva to handle the backend and coding, you have a winning combination. If you ask the Miva team, they’ll explain to you how and why they won the war with Magento for merchant success and satisfaction over the last few years.
X-Cart is another long-term player, specializing in open-source E-commerce, more similar to Magento. Their newest X-Cart 5 is being well received, and for those looking for cost-effective development, their team can help with backend support, while a team like Rand can help with designs and marketing.
VTEX is a powerhouse in Latin America and is making quick inroads into the USA. Their checkout is among the best that we’ve ever seen, and they have strong admin features to help merchants track and manage orders, and address other B2B needs. With VTEX, Rand can help with designs and marketing, while a team with longer-term experience in VTEX development can assist with your coding needs.
Shopify & Shopify Plus have been gaining in market share. They’re also SaaS-based. Our team has helped to build several of these sites in the last couple of years. For help with design or digital marketing, our team can really shine.
PrestShop controls major market share in Europe and provides a long-term solution ranging from a cloud version to their more popular open-source version. At Rand, we can help with design and marketing, while a backend team can help with your programming needs.
3dCart is based in our backyard – right here in South Florida. They have a SaaS platform with an easy wizard to help you launch a site on your own. Our team can assist with graphics, and marketing, while other teams can help with your development coding needs.
Shuup launched more recently, trying to be the next round of Magento Killers. With Cloud and Open Source versions, they’re the new kids on the block with less long-term baggage and a more modern take. Rand’s team can help with graphic design and internet marketing for Shuup sites.
Do you still have questions about preparing for Magento 1 Retiring?
If you’re not sure what path to take just yet, you’re in good company. It’s a big decision that will impact your business for many years to come. For a free E-commerce consultation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule a call or meeting.
– Robert Rand, CTO, Rand Marketing