We made a review of eCommerce platforms used by companies selling their products and services for Finnish people. Magento was the most popular. We decided to take a deeper look at the Magento versions in our data. It appeared that about 67 percent of Open Source and about 47 percent of Commerce based Magento web shops are losing the official support next year. If you are a shopkeeper with a soon to be outdated Magento version, you are not alone. But that is not a reason to be comfortable. End of support is a serious thing. How serious? This article tells everything a web shop shopkeeper needs to know about it.
The support for Magento 1.X versions is going to end on June 2020. However, it is not a good idea to immediately rush to change to Magento 2.X. Changing (not updating) from Magento 1.X to Magento 2.X is a challenging project. Even though their family names are the same, they are practically different products. The web shop needs to be rebuilt almost from all over. Old plugins and tailor-made alterations must be abandoned. If for example the data model has changed by some plugin, transferring the data becomes uneasy. License prices have gone significantly higher after Adobe bought Magento. Also, the amount of uncertainty with the Open Source version is growing. In a big disruption like this it is a good idea to weight what you really want from your web shop in the future.
Will my Magento 1.X web shop stop working when the support ends?
No, it won’t! The end of support doesn’t really mean that someone would shutdown your web shop. Your web shop will still work. On the other hand, security risks, reliability risks and risk with competitiveness will grow. I will write more about them in following chapters.
To make things less straight Magento Commerce 1.14.X versions have an attractive choice for buying some extra time if costs are not a problem. By renewing the license there is a possibility to continue getting security updates in the future too. For how long, that is hard to say. This choice doesn’t include bug fixes or new features either.
Risk 1: end of technical support
Technical support is something one will respect after he/she has had a situation where it was needed. Typically, software provider support is needed when the software is in a non-functional state, is very slow, or works inconsistently and the problem cannot be resolved by hosting provider or the software house that has tailored your Magento. Usually the need for technical support has something to do with situations when the web shop is altered, updated or plugins are installed, and problems arises. These risks can be minimized by freezing the development of the system. Sometimes similar problems may happen during time for other reasons too. Some bug may for example affect only when some certain things happens simultaneously, or some limit is exceeded. The need for support is very individual and random. If your web shop turnover is very small, you may not want to take this risk in account.
Risk 2: Getting bug fixes and new features will stop
Before the end-of-life your web shop has got bug fixes and new features in update packages. You may very well be able to live with the fact that your web shop doesn’t get new features or that a bothersome bug constantly reappears. If you decide to continue developing your old web shop you may run into a bug that will not be fixed. Freezing the development may be reasoned. However, aging will show up in your web shop after a while. Your competitors web shops will work faster on any connection and be better compatible with new devices.
Risk 3: End of security updates
The end of security updates is then much more serious thing. History shows that sooner or later your web shop will have a vulnerability that will be abused. The evidence of rough history can be found for example from CVE Details and Sucuri. Abusing may appear on your web shop with slowness, crashing or at worst your system delivering unpaid orders or your customer’s credit card data ending up to criminals. In other words, the problems at least will harm your customer service and may even put your business in danger.
Risk 4: The programming environment of your web shop is already out of date
Magento can be tailored to get the wanted user experience. PHP programming language is used for tailoring and plugins. Magento 1.X supports PHP version 5.6.40 and earlier versions. Their lifecycle ended already on 31.12.2018. Magento 2 supports newer PHP versions. Reasons for updating the programming environment are mainly the same as for any other update: security, speed, support and new features.
What should I do if I will continue using the old version?
If changing your platform seems like too complicated, ask yourself will you come along with the current web shop also in the future even though your competitors will change their platforms, are the response times of your web shop fast enough against your competitors, will search engines find your web shop in the future too, can you provide your customers with interesting content when your customers’ requirements change? If all the answers are yes, you can think postponing the platform change as a reasoned option.
Not changing the platform does not mean, that you can continue your daily processes as if nothing would have happened. You’d better follow at least the news and news groups about Magento 1.X to hear about other users’ experiences. Probably from all the old version users, you are not the first to find the problems. Therefore, it is a good idea to find out when the problems arise with other similar systems and be able to make quick moves when needed. In some cases, abusing the vulnerabilities will be automated. Then following the news may not provide with the pursued safety. Attackers can break into masses of web shops almost simultaneously.
Plan different threat scenarios. Think what is important and what is not. First of all, make a plan about when you are going to change your platform and with what resources. Make a rough schedule and follow it. Not changing your eCommerce platform is not a final solution if you want to continue doing eCommerce in the future too.
What should I do, if I decide to change?
Think, is there something you want to change in your web shop or do you want to keep it exactly as it is now: is there a need to change the customer experience, is there a need to alter back office processes, is there need for new integrations, is scalability needed for example for better campaign support? Because your web shop is going to change dramatically, no matter what, it is a good idea to expand the change from technical project to a business project where the whole concept and tuning the digital marketing are reconsidered from the beginning. At the same time, you can give a thought whether to continue with Magento or some other eCommerce platform.
Support for Magento 1.X versions ends in June 2020. The support for its programming environment has already ended. The risks of using 1.X version will grow as time passes. The alternatives are to buy extra time by trying to keep the old system up and running with a little luck or changing immediately to a new eCommerce platform. Going on with the old system requires ability to take risks and technological skills. Changing to a new eCommerce platform may mean changing to Magento 2.X or some alternative system. There are a great number of choices available. It just requires lots of thinking and expertise.