Portainer Community Edition vs Business Edition – What’s the Difference?

by Andrew Thomas, on March 8, 2021

Getting to grips with the difference between and BE isn’t as hard as you might think.

Portainer CE is our general-purpose management toolset that allows individuals and teams of any maturity and any size, to deploy and manage container-native applications with a high degree of ease; a lower cost of operations; and without needing to exclusively invest in any single orchestrator, Kubernetes distribution, container runtime, or cloud provider.

Although primarily designed for use by individuals and discrete teams, Portainer CE does include basic security and access control features that enable team-wide, tiered access to Docker/Kubernetes/Serverless environments. Portainer CE already enables greater collaboration than might otherwise be possible with native single-user tools.

All over the globe, developers, and operations teams have been adopting Portainer, and loving its breadth of capability and simplicity of use.

The Case for Portainer Business

But what happens when use of Portainer within your organisation expands, becomes more critical, and starts to come under scrutiny by IT executives who want to know how Portainer complies with corporate IT policies?

CIO's, CISO's and CTO's have a relatively consistent view of what's required of an "enterprise" management toolset. This includes ensuring it has critical security & governance capability, IT finance visibility, integrations with pre-existing IT management toolsets/operational processes and DR/BCP.  And of course, the IT executive will want to know how SLA-backed support is obtained for any mission critical software application.

It's simply not possible to have the community edition of Portainer deliver a coherent experience that addresses the needs of hobbyists AND large enterprises; each has vastly different needs. Additionally, as with most open source products, support for Portainer CE is provided by the community through forums and such like. As organizations seek to deploy Portainer in critical parts of their network, the need for formal support becomes important.

Enter Portainer Business Edition.
Business Edition is a closed source version of Portainer which has been tuned to meet the needs of the enterprise. The “hobbyist” / single user elements have been defocussed (and optionally totally disabled) and the enterprise features that the IT executive would expect to find in a business-grade product have been added.

Specifically, in Portainer Business you'll find -

Identity & Access Management
Allows far more granularity and control over identity and access management.

External Authentication Systems
Radically simplifies the connection to external authentication systems.

Role-based Access Control (RBAC)
Enables role-based access control that defines who can do what, where.

Quota Management
nforces quota management across all resources.

Security Governance
nables security governance such as single-sign-on, authentication and activity logins.

Rich Observability
rovides rich observability through integrations with external monitoring toolsets.

Cost Management
Provides insight into resources consumed per person/team/app and calculate proportional cost to run the application as a percentage of overall costs.

Disaster Recovery
rovides a ready means to DR enable Portainer itself.

In addition to the distinct feature differences, Business Edition also comes with a robust customer success/support program, with defined SLA’s, more extensive product testing and a slower release cycle with a wider version support matrix. From a support perspective, Portainer Business offers customers two options - 9x5 NBD support as standard and an optional 24x7 support package for critical environments.

Business Edition allows organizations to use less skilled (and less expensive) people in operational functions, which leads to an increasing dependency on Portainer to solve application-related problems. If the people in the teams don’t have the skills to use CLI then it’s critical Portainer is available.

Looking forwards, Business Edition will be further enriched with a host of additional features and functions we believe are of specific value to business users, including improved logging, better monitoring and support for more orchestration platforms. As we’ve stated in this blog previously, our heart remains very much 'open source' and we will continue to invest in both the open source version of Portainer as well as Business Edition.

We are acutely aware we would not have achieved the things we have without the amazing support of the open-source community and we remain committed to making container management simple for absolutely everyone.


See for yourself with a live online Portainer Business demo

Let us introduce you to a world of fast and easy app deployment, governance, and management in Docker/Swarm and Kubernetes. Schedule a demo with our tech team and see how Portainer's container service delivery platform can make everyone's life easier.