What is Magento?

Jun 26, 2020

2171 Diana Zevan

What is Magento?

Magento is an open source ecommerce platform, created in 2008. Over the decade, the platform gained popularity among retailers around the world and is currently recognized as one of the most comprehensive online retail softwares. Why? Read the article to find out. Here you will find an easy to grasp but insightful description of Magento, its history, features, version comparison.

Table of contents:

What is Magento?
Why Magento: Technology stack
Magento 1 vs Magento 2
Magento Open Source vs Magento Commerce
Magento vs Shopify vs WooCommerce
Magento reviews

What is Magento?

magento logo

Is Magento a CMS or framework? It is a content management system with top-notch functionality, based on the ZEND framework. Among the most popular content management systems for e commerce, Magento is on the 8th position with over 253 thousand live websites. However, if we consider the top 1 million ecommerce websites worldwide, Magento takes the 3rd place with 12,881 famous sites after WooCommerce and Shopify. Among top brands using Magento, we can mention Nike, Samsung, Ford, Monin, Coca-Cola, Helly Hansen, Mason Jars, HP and many more.

ecommerce CMS - what is magento

Magento has come a long way to earn its well-deserved place in the e commerce industry. Its history of success was neither straightforward nor simple. Over the years, it was owned by several different companies that all brought new ideas to improve the system.

The Magento CMS was a brainchild of two students of the University of California, Los Angeles – Roy Rubin and Yoav Kutner. Two college students began a project that would be recognized worldwide so soon.

what is magento - magento history

Why Magento: Technology stack

Why is Magento best? There is hardly another ecommerce solution with such a high reputation as Magento. Such unanimous credit can be attributed to its intuitive administration panel, constant upgrades and improvements, and substantial security measures. Magento can also be easily configured and customized to serve any retailer’s needs due to open source. Its ecommerce functionality is exceptionally versatile, with lots of checkout options, support of the critical global and regional payment getaways, shipment tracking integrations and advanced tax rules capabilities. All in all, Magento is considered the solution a retailer can rely on to bring out the best for their business.

The Magento creators have always worked hard to incorporate into the platform a plethora of technologies, aiming to make it unparalleled in its functionality and abilities. As a result, the Magento technology stack consists of powerful tools that enable developers with a wide range of abilities for their projects.

Magento Web Servers



Apache is an open-source web-server; Magento is compatible with Apache 2.2.x or 2.4.x. Although Apache is cross-platform, it is especially preferred by retailers who use Magento to run their ecommerce.



It is a web-server that can also be used as a reverse proxy server for HTTPS, HTTP, POP3, SMTP, and IMAP protocols, load balancer and HTTP cache. It stands out with its low usage of memory and concurrency.

Magento PHP


PHP support allows for a faster and simpler coding routine. By default, Magento is compatible with PHP 5.5 and 5.6, but can also work with PHP 7. Magento 2.3.0 is compatible with PHP 7.2. While the new Magento 2.4 – with 7.3.0 and 7.4.0, the last one is recommended.

Magento Database



MySQL is a relational database management system that the largest websites around the world rely on. Magento is no exception – it uses the MySQL database triggers for reindexing, and at the same time, does not support MySQL statement-based replication.

Magento Additional Technologies



This is a markup language, which is a crucial element of Magento 2 technology stack. It serves for presenting and structuring frontend components as well as simplifying the development process.



In the theme core, Magento implements CSS that replaces links from CSS source files with the correct ones.



This fast and lightweight JavaScript library is built into Magento by default.



RequireJS is a file and module loader optimizer for browsers and an essential JavaScript related component in Magento 2. It facilitates loading JavaScript resources on demand.



Knockout.js is a stand-alone JavaScript implementation, used to simplify JavaScript UIs with the Model-View-View Model pattern.

Zend Framework

zend framework logo

Magento does not rely on a single Zend Framework – instead, it has its adapters and interfaces for tunneling calls to Zend Framework 1. Therefore, one must utilize the official Magento framework APIs to avoid problems.



Symfony is a third-party PHP framework and a stack of reusable PHP components. In Magento 2, it speeds up the development work by allowing to avoid repetitive coding tasks. Moreover, YAML, Symfony’s serialization component, is an excellent format for configuration files.

Coding standards PSR-0 (autoloading standard), PSR-1 (basic coding standards), and PSR-2 (coding style guide), PSR-3, PSR-4.

Magento Optional Stack Components



Varnish is an HTTP accelerator; in Magento it is used for caching.



This one is an in-memory data structure project, implemented for page caching in Magento.



Elasticsearch is a search engine utilized in Magento.



This is an open-source message-broker software; used for message queueing in Magento.

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Magento Development Services

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Magento 1 vs Magento 2

Magento 1 was released back in 2008 and remained one of the most up-to-date platforms for quite a while. But sooner or later, every technology needs a major functionality boost. As a result, Magento 2, was released in 2015, met the demands of a modern ecommerce industry and addressed a great many shortcomings of the previous version. The second version was released 5+ years ago, and so far 73% of all Magento shops run on Magento 2. So, is the second version indeed that good?

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Differences between Magento 1 and Magento 2

Magento Architecture

The major weak spot of Magento 1 was its architecture. Magento developers incorporated the most functional and innovative technology stack into the new platform version. Particularly, the new technologies like Apache, Composer, Symfony, Nginx and latest PHP versions were introduced to Magento 2 to improve store speed and performance.

This is the comparative table of technologies Magento 1 and Magento 2 support.

Magento 1

Magento 2

PHP 5.2.x – 5.5.x PHP 5.6.x / 7.0.2 / 7.0.6 / 7.1.3 / 7.2.0 / 7.3.0
MySQL MySQL / MySQL Percona 5.6.x or greater
Apache 2.x Apache 2.2 / 2.4
Zend Framework 1 Zend Framework 1 / 2
Solr (in Enterprise Edition) Solr 4.x
Prototype JQuery
Nginx 1.7 or greater
Varnish 3.x – 6.x
Redis 2.x – 5.x
RequireJS / Knockout.js
PSR – 0 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Magento Performance

Store loading speed is an especially crucial point for online stores user experience, search engine optimization and overall success. Due to all the architectural, technology and caching alterations, Magento 2 offers a substantially better page loading speed; for certain pages, it reaches up to 50%.

Magento 1 vs Magento 2 loading speed comparison.

Magento 1 Magento 2
Home page 2.25 sec 1.06 sec
Simple product 2.40 sec 1.24 sec
CMS 2.23 sec 0.99 sec
Category page 2.54 sec 1.26 sec

Magento Admin panel & Webstore management

Magento developers introduced not solely customer-oriented improvements – they provided for store admin experience and performance as well. All in all, the renewed Magento 2 admin dashboard became more intuitive and user-friendly. It empowers admin with not only product, order, inventory and tax management capabilities, which is in itself a large share of functions, but also store monitoring and analytics, that are crucial for store marketing and planning & strategy.

Magento Marketplace

There was a unified Magento marketplace for the first version, yet it was somewhat disorganized – there was no strict control over the third-party extensions functionality and quality. Another significant issue of that time were extensions functionality conflicts.

A more meticulous extension testing routine was implemented at the Magento 2 marketplace. Also, what concerns extensions, the new version plugins are allowed to overlap each other’s code instead of overriding it.

Magento 1 vs Magento 2: Miscellaneous improvements

Magento 1 Magento 2
No Front End Library Ships with LESS
No PayPal PayPal natively integrated
No Data Grid Catalog Customizable Data Grid
Legacy Checkout Streamlined Checkout
Full Page Cache FPC /Varnish
Apache Solr search Elastic search


You can learn more about the differences in Magento 1 and Magento 2 checkouts here. According to the official announcement, Magento 1 is not supported. Taking into consideration all the advantages and improvements of the newer version, we would strongly recommend you to migrate to Magento 2 as soon as possible.

Magento Open Source vs Magento Commerce

After the rebranding in 2017, Magento has been offering two distinct solutions: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, previously named Magento Community Edition and merged Magento Enterprise and Magento Cloud Edition, respectively.

The Open Source version is free and has less robust functionality than Magento Commerce. On the other hand, open source code makes it more customizable, meaning it can be upgraded with proper extensions and custom development. Magento Commerce, in its turn, comes with an advanced set of out-of-the-box features and two pricing plans: Magento Commerce Starter and Magento Commerce Pro; the first will perfectly suit small-scale new ecommerce enterprises, and the latter is aimed at middle- and large-scale online retail. If you decide that Magento Commerce is your choice, be ready that its licence fee starts at $24,000 per year.


Magento Open Source Magento Commerce

General features

Modern tech stack
Payment integrations
Cloud hosting option
Automated code merge
Diagnostic tools
Regular updates
Automated testing
B2B functionality
Technical support
MySQL database server
PA-DSS Certification
Signifyd Guaranteed Fraud Protection


Responsive layout
Varnish caching
Full page caching
Asynchronous web endpoints
Database clustering support

Admin capabilities

Intuitive admin dashboard
Admin dashboard customization
Page builder
Multiple product types
Private sales
Limited catalog access
Customer attribute management


Integration with marketing tools
Content scheduling
Customer segmentation & targeting
Abandoned cart notifications via email
Reward points

User experience

Guest checkout
Customer wish lists
Customer account
Improved checkout

As you can see from this comparative table, Magento Open Source is lacking certain useful capabilities. However, you can always find a corresponding extension or module at an official Magento marketplace or third-party Magento developers’ stores.

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Magento Development Services

Take your online store to the next level with BelVG Magento development services

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Magento vs Shopify vs WooCommerce

Magento as we have mentioned before is not the only alternative at the ecommerce solutions market – there are a great many platforms of every type, level and price. Shopify and WooCommerce are both top ecommerce solutions with a global reputation, which makes them rightful and closest competitors of Magento. Each of them offers a unique approach to running an online store, and has its advantages and peculiarities. Here is a table that provides a swift overview of these three platforms differences. Perhaps this brief comparison is not enough to make a proper well-weighted decision on which platform to implement, yet it provides a decent overview of what each of the platforms presents and how they are different.


Magento Shopify WooCommerce
Description Magento is a standalone open-source ecommerce platform for businesses of all scales and industries Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that allows you to create and manage your online store from a single dashboard WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin, enabling store owners to run a robust online store
Cost Free + paid versions available From $29 per month Free
Hosting Open Source version does not provide hosting and domain name Hosting included + a free subdomain Hosting and domain name are not included
Store size Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Number of products Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Security SSL certificate SSL certificate SSL support
Analytics Default analytics system Default analytics system + Google Analytics integration Integrated Google Analytics
Technical skills required Yes Yes if you go for custom solutions Yes
Extensions & plugins Free + paid Free + paid Free + paid
Main features
  • Responsive and intuitive
  • Multi-store from a single admin panel
  • Customer segmentation
  • Marketing automation
  • PayPal and a number of payment gateways integrations
  • SEO features
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • HTML and CSS direct editing
  • SEO and marketing features
  • Full-fledged blogging platform
  • 100 payment gateways
  • Multilanguage
  • Product reports
  • Stock level tracking
  • Sales reports
  • Shipping calculation
  • Cart behavior
  • Multiple shipping methods
  • Product reviews

Magento reviews

Magento values the client companies of all scales, be they small, middle or large businesses, yet it is the review and experience of global brands that shape the reputation of the provider. A great many global brands trust Magento, and we have selected 5 top companies from different industries and their opinions on the ecommerce platform they run their businesses with.

Helly Hansen – Apparel

helly hansen website

helly hansen magento review

MasonJars.Com – Kitchenware

mason jars

mason jars magento reviews

HP – Electronics

hp website

hp magento review

Monin – Food & Beverage

monin webstite

monin customer reviews

Adore Beauty – Health & Beauty

adore beauty website

adore beauty magento review

Wrapping it up

We hope this comprehensive article provided you with a full understanding of what Magento as an ecommerce solution is. There are many other Magento-related articles on our blog, so if you wish to explore this platform further, you are most welcome to visit it.

Want to upgrade your Magento store to the newest version of the platform, Magento 2? BelVG will help you migrate!

Turn to BelVG for Magento custom development and we will create the online store that you want.

Also, if you have any questions or ideas, feel free to leave them down below.

magento development services

Magento Development Services

Take your online store to the next level with BelVG Magento development services

Visit the page
Igor Dragun

Partner With Us

Looking for a partner to grow your business? We are the right company to bring your webstore to success. Talk to Igor

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