New Mender Professional Pricing

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the new Mender Professional pricing that came out in an email today. I like many other here are a huge fan of Mender and very thankful for the efforts and support of the Northern Tech team. That being said, I feel like there is a lot of uncertainty going on right now for us users regarding pricing. Mender Professional (used to be Mender Hosted) and Mender Enterprise are both relatively recent changes to the Mender product family. I do understand that prices always go up, but according to the new pricing they released, Mender Professional will be jumping in price by about 2-3x even if you have up to 250 devices on their new plan. The biggest issue now is that if you want to test features like delta updates and scheduling deployments on a smaller fleet of devices, you are immediately paying $249 / month for those features. What I really enjoyed about Mender’s existing pricing is that you could build and scale a new customer / fleet without steep upfront costs. The bigger your fleet (and hopefully revenue), the more your Mender costs go up, win win if you ask me. Let’s take a look below for a cost comparison.

Current Mender Pricing

  • Mender Professional: $90 - $125 per month @ 250 devices when you amortize the activation fee over 12 months. This equates to between $0.36 - $0.50 per device per month depending upon deployment size and frequency.

New Mender Pricing

  • Mender Starter: The open source features of Mender, the best plan to support rapid product development without the hassle of setting up and managing any backend infrastructure. Pricing starts at $29 / month for up to 50 devices.
  • Mender Professional: The best plan when entering the production phase and scaling up. Includes commercial features such as Delta updates, Scheduling deployments and Two factor authentication. Pricing starts at $249 / month for up to 250 devices.


With the new pricing, anything less than 250 devices means your price per device is $12 per year ($1 per month) up to ~ $3,000 per year, if you were looking to test just a single device (unlikely use case, but theoretically possible). Basically, if you have less than 250 devices, Mender Professional is probably going to get cost prohibitive in a hurry and best case, with the pricing they currently have released, represents a 2-3x price increase. It really would have been nice to have them reach out their customers to get feedback before this big of a pricing change.

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Hi @drewwestrick,

I am part of the Mender team and really appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

To those of you reading this that are not quite sure what is going on: Mender will have new commercial plan structures from March 16th. Existing customers got an advance message about this today, with the option of which plan to choose going forward, to best suit their needs.

For existing production deployments we ensured the price would not change (or be lower than today). For people in development or testing, we created Mender Starter, at $29/month for up to 50 devices. If you are at the higher end of this, you will likely save money as well compared to current pricing. Worst case you were paying the minimum at $10 today, which would rise to $29. If this is a problem then we would be happy to make adjustments on this as well, as explained in the message sent out.

The main reason the pricing and plans are changing is to simplify the pricing model and make it more predictable. As you mention in the post, Mender Professional today might vary between $90 - $125 @ 250 devices, but this depends on how many updates you are doing, how many device activations (e.g. reflashing of the device during testing) and the size of the updates. Then we add in free credits of $120 to ensure you can test out Mender quickly without being charged for it. Now your free credits expire depending on how you use the service, and you should keep an eye on this as well, so you have the chance to unsubscribe before you are charged if you are not planning to use it at this time. This also lead to more complex billing and less clarity about price overall. We received consistent feedback that pricing was too complex and we wanted to address this.

When it comes to the price points themselves (price per device per month), we wanted to make different plans that cover different needs. For example, early in the product development cycle, more scale or security related features are likely not relevant, so we offer a lower priced plan, Mender Starter, to meet these needs. Less features and at a lower price. It is priced at $29 / month for up to 50 devices, with a 3 month free period.

If you are looking at larger scale, beyond 50 or 250 devices there will of course be volume discounts, if you would like to plan this please reach out to This was probably not communicated clearly enough, apologize for this.

But of course the Mender team is always open to feedback to find a solution that can best meet everyone’s needs. In fact, feedback from engaged users like yourself is what has made Mender into what it is today, so thank you!

A few questions I have, based on this:

  • Do you think the current pricing model is good, or do you agree with the feedback that it should be simplified?

  • How would you like to see it changed, if so?

  • Do you think it is common to evaluate the more advanced commercial features early in the product development cycle? I.e. will Mender Starter (the open source features) be enough for most people to evaluate with, or should plans like Professional and Enterprise be used for evaluation?

  • What do you think is a reasonable free evaluation time period? We were planning to have 3 months on Mender Starter and then price it at $29 / month after this.

PS! I did want to add that we have gotten feedback on pricing and plans before introducing these new plans, but are not able to talk to everyone unfortunately, and the needs within IoT / embedded (price per device, industry, feature need, etc.) vary widely, as you probably know. We are trying hard to find something that works well for everyone but it is not always possible.

PS2! We are consistently working on earning your trust and we have not made any prior price changes to hosted Mender since it was launched in 2018, so this is not something that we take lightly.


Thank you for posting some good follow up questions. I’ll do my best to provide some constructive feedback based on your questions and comments.

  • I agree that on the surface, the current pricing model can seem a little complicated. That being said, if you look at how pretty much any cloud service is priced these days (AWS, Azure, Google), it is almost always based on use and/or demand. One of the largest strengths of cloud based software, is it’s ability to offer low upfront costs which then scale as demand for the service increases. In my opinion, one of the greatest strengths of Mender is the transparency that is offered, from the open source nature of the underlying software to the online pricing calculator you offer. I as a customer, value to ability to estimate the costs of a fleet whether I’m deploying 100 devices or 100,000 devices. Nearly every other cloud service provides similar transparency into their pricing. Obviously if you are someone with a large fleet of say > 100,000 device than it make sense to negotiate on the pricing. Under that threshold, the ability to plan and price the cost of FOTA into my products without lengthy sales and negotiations shouldn’t be undervalued.

  • I would be happy to move to a more fixed monthly style fee as long as it is able to scale. Right now I see a big gap between Mender Starter and Mender Professional. The difference between device 50 and 51 is quite large. At 50 my annual spend is $348 but once I cross that threshold, it jumps to $2,988. What about customers who don’t want and/or need the features of Mender Professional? The way I understand the pricing today, is that they will be forced to upgrade when they reach 51 devices regardless if they want or need the additional features of Professional. As far as the pricing that has been released, Professional at the best case (250 devices) is a 1.7x cost over the best case pricing for Mender Starter (50 devices).

  • I generally try to evaluate the feature set I plan on using in production whenever possible. If scheduled and incremental updates are going to be used in production, I feel we should be testing those features as early in the product development cycle as possible. FOTA is a very critical process with the ability to brick a fleet if not done properly. It is therefore something that we like to test as early and often as possible.

  • Internet connected products can take a year or more to make it from prototype to production. I think it is great you are offering 3 months of Mender Starter for free, but there is still a good chance we would need to pay for 9-12+ months of Mender Professional to test a low number of devices if we wanted to fully vet and test the full features of Mender prior to production. We could start with Starter and later move to Professional, but again this would compress our timelines to tackle testing.

A few final thoughts regarding some statements you made.

For existing production deployments we ensured the price would not change (or be lower than today).

Even if I max out the artifact size (1,000 MB), and max out the deployments (24) at 250 devices, I only get to $0.82 per device per month (again amortizing the activation fee over 12 months). Maybe this statement is true of customers with larger fleets / deployments but due to the lack of transparency in pricing above 250 devices make it hard to accurately evaluate this statement. I realize that the new pricing may not be fully completed, but I think its important to have this conversation in the community earlier rather than later.

I’m all for making pricing clearer and simpler. Unfortunately my view is that the cost of this simplicity comes at raises to upfront costs, a general increase in cost for most customers even in the best case scenarios (may this isn’t true above 250 devices), and eliminates the 251-100,000 device pricing transparency currently offered. I understand and in fact appreciate that Mender is a product with a growing and ever more useful feature set. I am fully on board with the concept that these new and expanded features may require an increase to product cost. I think keeping the openness and transparency that makes Mender a leader in FOTA should be a top priority and I feel the way that the new pricing is being rolled out does not reflect a solid commitment to those concepts. I appreciate the discussion here and know you guys are all hard at work making Mender the best FOTA product it can be. I simply think the new pricing may impact your customers and users in ways that you make not realize.

Thanks for the detailed and clear feedback @drewwestrick!

The new model and plans are now published:

A few clarifications / comments, as I believe there is a bit confusion (and I will take that as input to the notification that was sent out regarding this):

  • We do not intend for the pricing changes to affect any current customers / community negatively. Existing customers in production got the same price as they had, and if you are planning to scale we will ensure expectations are met too (you were given the same price as well @drewwestrick :slight_smile:). So we will ensure to meet the pricing expectations anyone who are in production, or planning to scale with Mender and encourage reaching out to if you have any questions or concerns how this will affect you.

  • Nobody will force you to stop using Mender Starter at 51 devices, so there is no jump price-per-device jump between 50 to 51 devices. We will make this language more clear.

A few follow-ups for us from this in the coming weeks:

  • You are right that pricing model is not “finished” and we will try to improve it to improve transparency and simplicity further.

  • Regarding evaluating for 3 months on Starter, we thought that most people would be interested in just seeing how it works, test out basic deployments and device integrations (so more advanced features would not be too relevant). Evaluation/testing on Professional and Enterprise for free is definitely possible by reaching out. But it seems like it may make sense to offer the general evaluation on the highest feature set (Enterprise), and possibly extend the time limit but lower the device count (e.g. to 10). I will take this internally as well. But in general we try to be very accommodating with this, just ask. :slight_smile:


Thanks for clarifying a few things on here. I also appreciate you working with us on the pricing. It would still be great if you guys could manage to offer some online visibility on larger device counts as it can help companies like our price a solution at both smaller fleet sizes and larger ones. I’m happy to hear you will be offering pricing beyond 50 devices for projects that don’t require the added features that Professional and Enterprise offer.

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Hi @drewwestrick,

Appreciate the feedback.

I have taken first followup to review the evaluation period, perhaps we should offer something more/different.

Secondly I will also look into the larger-scale pricing, though this is a bit more complex topic and may take a little longer. Keep in mind you can always get quotes by emailing in the meanwhile, but I do understand it is easier to just look at this online.

Hey @eystein,

I know this is an old (ish) thread and you probably won’t be thrilled to see it revived, but I wanted to give a little bit of feedback too since you seem to be pretty receptive.

I don’t currently use Mender for anything, but it’s always been in the back of my mind as the go to option if I ever need a good OTA update system for anything. Recently I’ve been looking at firewalls and find the status quo for updates to be fairly bad. I started wondering if it might be possible to hack pfSense or router7 to update via Mender (just as a PoC to show it can be better). Basically I found myself thinking “I wish this was as good as Mender” and ended up on the site looking to see if Mender supports BSD where I saw the new pricing page.

Part of the reason Mender has always stuck in my mind is because the old pricing was simple to reason about and very friendly to jump from a hobby project to a real project. The new pricing makes it much more difficult. The new pricing looks very standard for the tech industry and, even though I hate it (the standard), maybe there’s something I just don’t get that makes it better.

The specific thing I don’t like about the new pricing is that it charges for scale and features. I’ll point out some of the issues I can see related to charging for both, again noting that everyone in the tech industry seems to charge for both.

First, and my absolute biggest complaint, is that if I want to build a product that uses the service I’m forced to start with a lower quality version initially because the commercial/enterprise features are out of reach (economically). Delta updates and scheduled updates are a good example of features where I would just use them from the start if I were trying to build a product. Instead, with the feature tiering, I end up having to create tiers within my own product or come up with some type of strategy to grow through your tiers where I take advantage of the feature as I can afford them. IMO, the complexity I’m forced to consider on the technical side because of dealing with the changing feature set as I grow far, far outweighs any (debatable) simplification of pricing.

I don’t think the pricing is simpler because it forces small projects to think about growth they’ll probably never achieve. With the old linear pricing model, I could guesstimate a price per device and theorize a price point that would be reasonable for my first few devices and wouldn’t need to reassess until it became an issue on my side. With the feature tiering, it feels like I’ll hit break points, which I call price cliffs, on your terms and I need to put a lot of effort into figuring out if or when I’m going to hit those and how I’m going to deal with it. That may not be an accurate assessment of your exact pricing model, but it’s the first impression I get whenever I see a pricing page that has feature tiers.

To summarize those two points, it’s like having 1 API with 1 price vs having 3 APIs with 3 different prices for me to deal with. I know it’s always sold as simplifying pricing, but it’s definitely not simpler from my point of view. My uninformed opinion is that you’re seeing complaints about pricing from purchasing managers and non-technical people and the new pricing caters to them at the expense of technical people / developers. I do realize the variable costs were probably a really hard or impossible sell to the kind of (corporate) customers you want/need to target.

I think a problem with the current pricing trends in the tech industry relate to expectations vs reality. In reality, scalability is hard, especially when combined with reliability, and the price per device should increase with scale. However, everyone expects a discount for quantity / volume purchases. I think charging for technical features is a band-aid for that since the features roughly correlate to the need for scaling, so it’s a roundabout way of charging increased prices for increased scaling, but without flat out saying so.

I also wonder if the tiers couldn’t be limited, or at least skewed, to support and reliability features. For example, if I’m doing a PoC or a hobby project, I’m fine with community support, no SLA, no HA, etc., but if I’m making a purchasing decision for a large company, forgoing those things borders on negligence. That would let you charge large companies more, but on a self-assessed basis where your customers can decide when those needs make the most sense for them.

I think an LTS program would be another option for giving small users a discount while charging large users a rate that reflects the value they’re getting. If you have a close look at how Microsoft has been doing things it makes a lot of sense. The simplest example is Win10 Pro being on a semi-annual update schedule vs Enterprise being on a three year (?) cycle. As a smaller user, I’m much less sensitive to that short lifecycle and I think it provides a reasonable tradeoff in terms of value. Big users need a longer lifecycle and are willing to pay for LTS.

I don’t mind the idea of starting out with a self-hosted solution, but on a small scale. For example, a single VM with a traditional nightly backup makes sense to me on a small scale, but beyond that I think it’s more practical to start looking at the hosted services.

In that context, the Mender Docker images are ok for self hosting, but could be better IMO. I’d probably run them in a development environment, but, IIRC, there were a lot of images that needed to be coordinated to make things work, so I don’t think I’d want to run them in a production environment. This is another industry standard I don’t agree with. Docker says 1 image, 1 function or something, but that makes no sense if containers are all going to run and scale together. For example, if I’m always running 1 of every container, the only thing a bunch of independent containers is doing is increasing complexity. I have a strong preference for images like GitLab, Sonatype Nexus, etc. where everything is baked into a single image.

Using a monolithic Docker image creates a natural break point where it makes sense to stop self hosting and to start buying a hosted service. Also, if you’re not already doing it, that would make it plausible to keep the containers / infrastructure (as code) for your hosted solution private which makes it a lot harder for someone to fork the project and start their own hosted service.

For me, the ideal pricing structure would have 3 tiers:

  1. Single container self-hosted. Free with a 1 month or rolling lifecycle. This environment makes sense for development and canary environments, so a 1 month lifecycle is ideal and I could self-select a longer life-cycle if I want to run a small scale production environment when starting out.
  2. Hosted with low cost, usage based pricing and community support + (maybe) paid per-incident support. This would basically be your old pricing and could be on a shorter lifecycle than a commercial tier since it’s a good value trade-off for price sensitive hobbyists and small developers to use lower cost products with shorter lifecycles.
  3. Hosted with higher cost, all inclusive pricing and commercial support + features (support SLA, HA, LTS, etc.). This is the only real choice for the big users with money to spend and they’re not nearly as price sensitive as users in the other tiers, so you can price accordingly.

In other words, tier on support, maintenance lifecycle, and redundancy features, not technical features that impact (my) product development. Charge for those things per device and you get the same effect as technical feature tiers, but without adding a bunch of complexity for developers.

I think the “best effort” support on the $250/month option is a a deterrent. It makes it sound like you’ll try to help, but tough luck if you can’t fix things. I don’t think that’s the intent, is it? Take whatever your target first response time is internally and use that. You should also make the support method more clear. Ex: Email. First response via email within 24h (or 48h). A 48h initial response SLA is still a SLA and sounds much better than “best effort”, right?

To be really honest about it, I don’t think I’d evaluate the Mender with the current pricing beyond starting to spin up an instance (via Docker) on my development machine. I’d see the complexity of the Docker deployment, look at the $250/month required for features I’d actually want from a hosted version, and move on.

Hopefully there’s some useful feedback in that rambling. I’ll finish by paraphrasing something that stuck with me from a Hacker News comment I saw once. When you price things so they don’t work for hobbyists or small users you’re excluding the people most likely to spend their free time building proof of concept projects that lighthouse (ie: provide added visibility for) your project.


Hello @ryanjaeb and thanks for the feedback - always appreciated!

To start off I did want to make it clear that we now offer a 1) fully (Enterprise) feature version 2) 12 months 3) for free without credit card required. You can sign up here:

This was released on July 1st, 2020 based on feedback on the new pricing model. So there is no reason to start with the “lower featured” versions any more. :slight_smile:

After this, the way the plans are intended to be split up is by maturity/complexity of your product. So the idea is that indeed it would make sense to move from e.g. Professional to Enterprise once you have a larger scale, need more security and would like to reduce the risks (e.g. Phased rollout avoids breaking all the devices at once with an OTA update).

But it doesn’t seem you agree on this - maybe you can highlight some of the features you think are critical for you from day 1 of your product that are only available in the higher plans?

IoT / embedded products come in all shapes and scales, so the intention is not to charge more per device for higher-scale deployments (rather the other way around, with volume discounts as you mention). Some fully-scaled deployments are just 200 devices. This is why we rather focus on features / maturity when defining the plans (so a startup pre-launch should not critically need the features in the Enterprise plan, for example).

There is also differentiation on support, like you mention, formal SLA is only available in Enterprise, while we have community support everywhere and “best effort” support for the Starter and Professional plans.

The “size” of micro-services / Docker images is a hotly debated topic in general. :slight_smile: I definitley understand where you are coming from but we also need to support larger deployments (e.g. our hosted Mender, but also larger on-premise customers) with this. In this case it is very useful to scale individual services, such as device authentication, without scaling those that are being less used (such as user authentication).

We definitely don’t intend to “price out” early stage projects, so we have several options:

  • 12 month free trial fully featured
  • $29 / month Starter (after this)
  • Open Source which you can host and manage yourself. I am not sure what the lowest cost cloud service to host this (either on a kubernetes engine or just a VM) however it will not be much.

Were you aware of these options already, and do you still think this is too expensive?

Hey @eysein. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to me. I appreciate it. Since I’m not actively trying to build anything with Mender, I want to emphasize the reason I replied here. When I looked at OTA updaters (Azure IoT, AWS IoT, Ubuntu Core, Resin/Balena) a year or two ago I was really disappointed with all of them except Mender and Mender has stuck in the back of my mind as the first one I’d consider in the future since then. Now the pricing that would scare me off.

The 12 month trial is great and I think that’s a really generous offer for any teams that come in with a specific product they want to build. It’s on the scale of hobbyist, indie, small developers, etc. where I think the new pricing is bit exclusionary.

I’ll use my original suggestion of trying to update something like router7 via Mender. I would never do this since that’s not a production quality firewall, so it’s theoretical, but I have a reasonable knowledge of the market for firewalls in small businesses, so it makes a good use case for me to illustrate some of my thoughts.

After this, the way the plans are intended to be split up is by maturity/complexity of your product.

The problem with this is that it’s never true or evolves to the point where it’s not true. GitLab says the same thing an I always find myself running into issues that would be solved by a higher tier version of the product even though I’m not using it in a big company. In fact, I quit using GitLab because of it.

Taking my router7 example, assume my first two customers are a restaurant and a motel. The ideal time to update a network device at a motel is about an hour after checkout (during the day). At a restaurant it would be late evening Monday-Wednesday. So, by the time I have 2 devices, I already want scheduled updates.

so a startup pre-launch should not critically need the features in the Enterprise plan, for example

e.g. Phased rollout avoids breaking all the devices at once with an OTA update

Not breaking all devices at the same time is the most valuable feature of an OTA updater and it’s in the most expensive tier. As for my router7 example, I would absolutely want phased rollouts from day one. The way I’d do it is to update my own site plus a few high tolerance customers first, then customers within X kilometers next, and finally customers further away than X kilometers.

For something like networking equipment, bricking more than 2-3 sites at once would be a huge deal because you can’t reasonably visit (ex:) 5+ sites in a day to fix things. So in addition to phased updates, I’d go as far as wanting rolling updates where everything would stop and wait for manual intervention after 1-2 broken sites. In this case I’m assuming 1 firewall = 1 device = 1 site.

So my feedback there would be that even though it’s easy to say features are tiered to make sense for different scales of deployments, I’ve never used anything where I didn’t run into technical or manageability limitations because of the feature tiering. There’s always something I want in the next tier and even though that’s good for (your) sales, it’s a big negative for me.

Some fully-scaled deployments are just 200 devices.

Using my router7 example again, getting to 200 devices would take a lot of work. Selling a small business a firewall, updates, etc. usually involves re-implementing a large portion of their network, and doing that once every second week would be a realistic goal IMO. So an IT provider that supports small, local businesses might add ~25 devices per year.

IoT / embedded products come in all shapes and scales, so the intention is not to charge more per device for higher-scale deployments (rather the other way around, with volume discounts as you mention).

To be more clear, I was trying to say I think there’s a lot of value in highly scalable systems and it’s the kind of thing where it makes sense (to me) to pay more. I didn’t mean to suggest you’re charging more for scale. To me, an OTA updater that can support 100 devices isn’t very valuable, but there’s a ton of value in something that scales to 10000s of devices because it’s not easy to hack that together or for someone else to come along and offer a competing service (without a lot of investment).

As for the part about products being different shapes and scales, I agree. That’s also part of the reason I don’t like having technical / management features tiered. Like I said, there’s always something vendors consider a “big business” feature that I want access to. Two factor authentication is a good example of this in your current tiering. Is that actually 2FA like an authenticator for account login or am I misinterpreting? Proper account security isn’t a “big business” feature IMO.

The “size” of micro-services / Docker images is a hotly debated topic in general. :slight_smile: I definitley understand where you are coming from but we also need to support larger deployments (e.g. our hosted Mender, but also larger on-premise customers) with this.

Yes. I agree with that sentiment. The point I was trying to make is the complex, highly scalable solution provides a lot of value for you as the hosted service provider. However, for me as a consumer of those images, the complexity has negative value. From my point of view, instructions like this look like a how-to guide for someone to come in and start a competing service while it’s not very useful for me.

A monolithic image with feature parity would be a lot more valuable to me in terms of development, testing, and running a hobbyist quality service to see if anything I’ve built could be sustainable. I see you already tier the features in the self-hosted deployment and that makes it much less valuable to me since I would typically self-host something like that in my development / learning environment.

So what I’m saying is that I think it could make sense to have 2 image based deployment solutions. The first would be your current, highly scalable setup. The second would be a simple, monolithic, non-scalable image for development, testing, hobbyists. Personally I don’t think I’d give away the infrastructure recipe as an open source project, especially after seeing what AWS did to MongoDB, etc.

Were you aware of these options already, and do you still think this is too expensive?

Yes, I saw the options. As for price, I look at it this way. I can see the incremental price of a device in the professional plan is $1 per month. I think that’s good value for all the features Mender has, but it’s too hard to get there and it’s a really bad deal if I have a very small number of devices.

So, to be clear, I don’t think that pricing is bad if you’re an enterprise customer with an existing product to deploy. It’s more on the hobbyist / indie developer side where I think it’s a harder sell and the old pricing wasn’t out of reach like I think the new pricing is. The usage based pricing did a really good job of being accessible to small deployments IMO.

I realize it might not be economically viable to cater to small deployments and it’s completely reasonable for large deployments to be your primary focus. I’ll end by saying I don’t think your pricing is out of the ordinary. There seems to be a trend in the tech industry where SaaS pricing is increasing and getting out of reach for hobbyists, enthusiasts, indies, small businesses, etc…

Thanks again for taking the time to reply to me. If you ever decide to re-visit your pricing I hope my feedback is useful in some way.

Appreciate the feedback @ryanjaeb!
I think you are pretty clear so I do not have further comments on this at this time.
Just wanted to mention that it is hard / impossible to avoid that a startup/small deployment want a feature in a higher tier. The intention is that it is a prerequisite for a more mature deployment without being a showstopper for a startup/small deployement.

This (pricing) is a tricky topic to solve from all angles but appreciate all the input!

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