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.

Conclusion

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 contact@mender.io. 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.

@eystein,

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: https://mender.io/products/pricing

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 contact@mender.io 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:

@eystein,

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 contact@mender.io in the meanwhile, but I do understand it is easier to just look at this online.