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Is Magento Open Source dead?

Much has been written about the future of Magento Open Source, Adobe’s plans for Magento, and whether it will continue to support the Open Source version. It’s a complex issue that affects thousands of people who depend on or work with this platform, as well as thousands of businesses that have chosen Magento Open Source to sell their products or services online.

Adobe only gives hints about the future of Magento, probably because it doesn’t have a fully decided strategy and is shaping it little by little. This leaves a scenario with a high level of uncertainty, perfect for the most catastrophic theories about the future of Magento.

In this article, I explain my (personal) point of view regarding the future of Magento Open Source.

Adobe Commerce Cloud, Adobe’s big bet

After the acquisition by Adobe, Magento was incorporated into the set of tools and platforms of Adobe Experience Cloud, belonging to the “Marketing & Commerce” product segment. The “Marketing & Commerce” segment is of great strategic value to Adobe due to two points:

  • High growth: It is the company’s fastest-growing segment, in contrast to the already mature segments of “Creativity & Design” and “PDF & E-signatures” where Adobe already has a large market share and cannot achieve such high organic growth.
  • Increased margins with products aimed at Large Accounts: Unlike tools like Photoshop or PDF Writer that are used daily by millions of users at a very low cost, the Adobe Experience Cloud set has tools aimed at large companies that allow it to obtain better margins than other segments. Let’s not forget that Adobe is listed on the stock exchange and its strategy is defined by its financial results.

Adobe Commerce Cloud, the perfect Commerce bet for Adobe:

The incorporation of Magento Cloud perfectly fit Adobe’s needs, closing the circle of the Marketing segment, which was renamed “Marketing & Commerce”. Adobe once again achieves that value that few brands can achieve, a set of unique, uncompetitive products that create dependence on their customers. Adobe incorporated Magento Cloud into its products, enhancing the aspects that provided the most value:

  • SaaS: Magento Cloud adapted perfectly to the SaaS concept of the rest of Adobe’s tools and platforms, especially those of Adobe Experience Cloud. The SaaS concept is already almost a mandatory standard in the digital age, but Adobe was a pioneer in the transformation to SaaS, being one of the first major tech companies to adopt this system, carrying it in its DNA ever since. That’s why Magento Cloud was quickly and naturally integrated into Adobe Experience Cloud.
  • Microservices: Adobe Experience Cloud is aimed at large companies that operate in different markets and channels, companies with a complex and heterogeneous digital ecosystem where an eCommerce must coexist with a large number of systems and services. That’s why Magento’s “Monolith” type PHP framework was a major technological barrier to be solved due to its difficult maintenance and inflexibility in large projects. Adobe opted for a major change in the consolidation of the Adobe Commerce strategy by changing the “Monolith” type PHP framework concept for the concepts of microservices, headless, and PWA studio, more in line with current technological needs, and especially for the needs of large accounts with large budgets. This strategy, which is still being executed, resulted in a drastic reduction in the developments and evolutions dependent on the core of Adobe Commerce, and leaving the door open for customers to carry out their custom developments through microservices.
  • Large Accounts: The value offered by Adobe Commerce Cloud is microservices, headless, and PWA, this implies costly developments that are within the reach of large companies, mature and with solid omnichannel strategies. And if they are companies eager to innovate and push the Commerce concept to the limit, better, Adobe offers Adobe Commerce Cloud as the perfect platform for it!

Not everything is perfect

Adobe has donea great strategic job adding Magento Cloud to its brand, but those of us who work day-to-day with Adobe Commerce Cloud likely have very disparate opinions about the technical outcome and partner service. Personally, I believe these are pieces that require time to fit together, especially in large corporations like Adobe.

The future of Magento.
And now, what will become of Magento Open Source?

During the “Adobe Developers Live: Commerce” conference that took place on February 11, 2022, Chris Hedge, Senior Director Product Management at Adobe, announced that there will be a new release strategy with two distinct supports: LTS (Long Term Support) and STS (Short Term Support), which is considered the first step of the strategy for Magento Open Source. Adobe’s strategy for Magento Open Source

Adobe’s strategy for Magento Open Source

Magento Open Source: LTS (Long Term Support)

The LTS support will be managed and maintained by Adobe for a period that has not been specified, but is expected to be no less than 5 years. This means that during this time, Adobe focuses on providing stability, compatibility, security updates, and bug fixes. In short, Adobe takes care of making the Magento Open Source version safe and stable.

The LTS (Long Term Support) is the great seal of quality that reassures developers, agencies, and clients.

Magento Open Source: STS (Short Term Support)

STS versions will be community contributions and will focus on new features and functionalities. From this support, the community can drive innovative developments and rapidly evolve the Magento Open Source product according to market needs.

How the two branches LTS (Long Term Support) from Adobe and STS (Short Term Support) from the community coexist:

These two versions will not be independent. The STS branch will receive all updates from the LTS branch and must maintain the compatibility of the LTS branches. This implies that Adobe will select the STS branches that it considers or agrees with the STS contributors. It will be Adobe who decides and controls the contributions of both LTS (Long Term Support) and STS (Short Term Support). Different flows and forms of contributions are being considered, as well as the creation of mixed committees between the community and Adobe for management, prioritization, and validation of contributions, but as of today, there is no announcement from Adobe confirming any of these initiatives.

Adobe has announced that they will not build new features and functionalities for the core of Adobe Commerce and Magento Open Source. However, this is not considered a problem as most of the new features introduced in recent years have been SaaS offerings like Adobe Sensei or Adobe Stock, or have come from the community or partners.

The union between the Magento community and Adobe

Adobe has recognized the value that Magento brings to its brand and what it can bring in the future. Adobe should not overlook the large companies that develop modules with new, highly useful functionalities and offer a high-quality service to their clients seeking a long-term relationship, as well as the thousands of developers and agencies that contribute millions of lines of code and improvements spontaneously. Through agencies, Magento Open Source is a springboard platform towards Adobe Commerce, it is very common for clients using Magento Open Source to scale their project to Adobe Commerce. This source of spontaneous initiatives is of great value to Adobe, the Magento community is a free R&D, commercial and technical department, working selflessly and passionately.

The LTS/STS support strategy is Adobe’s attempt to create a space for coexistence and collaboration between a large corporation like Adobe and a community with a great weight in the success of Magento. Personally, I believe this strategy hasthree major pieces that are not easy to fit together:

  • Adobe owns the Code: Adobe is not going to hand over the code to the Magento community, this is something that no one should expect, at least in a short/medium period of time. Even though it hasn’t fully adopted Magento within its products, Adobe knows that Magento is linked to its brand and is responsible for its proper functioning.
  • The Magento community: The Magento community is a heterogeneous community made up of developers, consultants, agencies, module producers among others, with very different interests and above all with a very different idea of the path that Magento should take in the future. Finding a way to orchestrate all these identities of the Magento community without causing discomfort is a difficult task to accomplish.
  • Validation of contributions: We are not living in the best time for community contributions to the Magento code to see the light of day. Adobe has entrenched and neglected the more agile flows that existed in the past, in the golden age when the community made great contributions in the early versions of Magento 2, complicating and delaying the validations of simple functionalities or basic bugs to unbearable times, let alone complex contributions that are impossible to see the light of day. Adobe must address the community’s discomfort and provide the community with the tools to see that their contributions materialize quickly.

Conclusions

  • The support and strategies to give continuity by Adobe ensure that Magento Open Source will not die in the medium term.
  • The community is regaining more weight, but it must materialize into reality, for now, it is a letter of intent.
  • There are initiatives outside of Adobe to give continuity that if they gain weight, can open the door to solutions based on Magento Open Source.
  • Magento Open Source has a solid customer base that makes it impossible not to have continuity in the long term.