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Level of tech support for community software

Level of tech support for community software

Hello All!

 

I am not sure whether I have the right forum for this, but can anyone tell me what level of support will be needed for the community edition of Magento?

 

I am about to start with a new company to help them get a new site set up ( from a business projects standpoint) and they have gone with the community edition ( but I don't believe we have any IT resource to support it internally) it would therefore be dependent ( probably on who was hosting it for us) Therefore I am thinking:

 

1. Back ups and maintenance

2. Software patches and regression testing

3. Security upgrades

4. Site recovery/ site down issues

 

...at the very bare minimum. Are there any magento developers out there who can tell me what # hours they allow to support this software roughly so I can have an idea of what support we will need once the site is up and running? I can do some things myself with the right instructions but I am not an IT professional and are really meant to be mre involved with the content side of things.

 

Also if at some point we decided to move to an enterprise edition ( if we did our sums and it worked out cheaper) are upgrades and migrations of existing sites fairly straightforward and does Magento provide IT project management of this?

 

Thanks!

 

Louise

4 REPLIES

Re: Level of tech support for community software

Louise,

 

It's difficult to offer much clarity in an estimate based sole on a post, but I'm assuming you know that already give how thoughtful and deliberate your post is...and you're pretty much on the money, what you list in your submission is the MINIMUM.  There's a pretty good discussion over at the Shero Designs Blog.  I tend to agree with the broad statement that given the costs of licensing Magento EE and the costs needed to implement it properly, you should proabably start thinking about it if you already do (or plan to in the next 12 months) between $5 - $10 million per year in online sales.

 

The upfront and recurring fees are not inconsequential, but they do come with Enterprise Support which can help provide a consistent level of business support and remove the burden of mainintaining and operating the site from your team.  Keep in mind that unless you go for some of the higher-tier Managed Hosting Plans, the costs you will see from hosting providers usally cover hosting expenses ONLY and support relating to those specific services.  Not all do that, but many do, so be thorough and do your due dilligence to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when you get down to reviewing RFP's between service providers.

 

You can usually engage either your hosting firm or your consulting firm / agency for additional ongoing suppor to either supplement your onsite team or provide the technical resources.  I normally suggest to clients that they consider owning the entire business side of ongoing operations and support (which may start with catalog management, marketing pricing, etc...), and take whatever budget they can afford and staff someone as skilled in house as well as working with a vendor.  At some point, if you want to be successful, you're going to need to have people inside yor business take ownership of the project.

 

I've worked with some fantastic technical and business partners on Magento projects, but at the end of the day no one else CAN take ownership of your project and drive its success like someone with a personal & professional stake in your business. If you budget is constrained at first, then focus on the business side of things first and make sure you have room in your next budgetary cycle for continuing to invest in internal resource development.

 

Every customer is different, but normally I see clients go one of two routes: re-platforming every 3-5 years or executing smaller projects each year to maintain patches, security fixes, and add capability upgrades as new versions are Released.  Which option you choose should be based on your business goals, but I mention it because may people think that the biggest expense they will have is on the original launch.  In practice (and this is broadly true about all sofware from almost all vendors) you wind up spending 1/5 - 1/8 of the Total Cost of Ownership on you launch an the rest on the upgrades, maintenance, operations, updates until you replatform.  

 

You may wind up no the high or low ends of that spectrun depending on your specific needs, but don't be so focused on the immediate launch project effort that you overlook that you're going to be using this system everyday to generate genuine value and (hopefully) profits for the buseinsses and you're going to need to plan on investing in that effort for several years if you want to ensure the highest ROI's.

 

You may want to consider checking out some of the Magento Resources compiled on github by Alessandro Ronchi.  I've also shared my notebook of Magento Project Management Resources via Evernote, I hope they help!

 

- Bryan "BJ" Hoffpauir : CTO @ Comit Developers : https://comitdevelopers.com

------------------------
Bryan "BJ" Hoffpauir - Contact me on my Blog!

Contact me at work via AOE - the open web company online!



Re: Level of tech support for community software

Given your requirements, go for Managed Hosting:

1 and 2  when it comes to OS,  PHP and supporting applications (mail, cron, cache backends) will be covered by the hosting.

 

Security upgrades same, but for Magento specific, go with a Magento Support company.

 

The fourth is in the middle: coding errors, hacks => realm of support company. Hardware or network failure: realm of hoster.

 

Now, the last bit is depending largely on how good the developer company is that is going to build the site. In general, building one is different from maintaining one: a company that builds a Magento site is setup for mid to long term projects. A company that supports a Magento site, is setup for short-term projects to add enhancements and on-the-fly support. Trust me, these are very different models .

I work at a Magento Support company and we get them pretty much in 4 flavours:

 

  1. My nephew / spouce built the site. This can turn out either way, but the favor is in "not very good". This has a high initial investment trying to correct the mistakes made, but once there can run smoothly with ~4 hours a month monitoring and 2-4 patch management.
  2. A company built the site approaching Magento as "just another php application". This is by far the biggest initial investment as the site will be full of code working around Magento instead of with. These parties are usually engaged for their expertise in other areas and so on top of Magento there will be some kind of integration that is hard to decouple and causes headaches trying to fit into normal Magento operation.
  3. A company with basic to moderate Magento expertise. These are the ones that are architectural sound or very little mistakes but performance doesn't scale. This is usually fixed pretty fast and will have similar maintenance. Exceptions are badly chosen templates and menus, that have cost too much to replace with a different somewhat feature compatible alternative. If a template like that stays, it puts a burdon on enhancements as any additional functionality will add to the performance problem.
  4. A company with good to excellent Magento expertise. We get docs (yay!) and initial tweaks are minor or not needed and consist primarily of installing and configuring monitoring software. In my experience (not a golden rule), these sites require more attention because the owners are more engaged with the site, wanting periodic changes and enhancements. Pure for maintenance, it'll be at least double the hours of nr. 1), because there will be more incidents, like corner case situations resulting in errors, customers complaining - and the question what can be done about it -  or spikes in traffic due to campaigns that may need (temporary) upscaling of resources.

Hope this gives you somewhat of an overview. The hours I'm quoting here are averages - a lot depends on choices made by site owners and the nature of the product(s).

Re: Level of tech support for community software

this is all depends on your budget, but the key to your success is - proper daily monitoring.

so from your list there is nothing you can not do yourself. just watch for alerts and read error log Smiley Happy

probably the hardest will be database maintenance.

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MagenX - Magento and Server optimization

Re: Level of tech support for community software

You guys are awesome - thanks for the reading material Smiley Very Happy For immediate needs I have a test # hours retainer with a developer who is/has experienced developers on the team and arranging hosting separately. I guess that means then that opens it up to other possibilites in future.

 

Re. enterprise edition, how much support in future, whether we bring someone in house, I need to think about that, and do my sums.

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