Open Source CMS vs Proprietary CMS

Open Source CMS vs Proprietary CMS

By Marc Reifenrath on January 21, 2014 in Development

Back in early 2000, when we started Spinutech, content management systems were pretty rare. Being a new, young startup, we needed an edge...thus, we decided to build our own CMS, Spinternet, a proprietary solution built from the ground up. While the name remains the same, Spinternet and it's features have continued to grow and evlolve over time. 

As time goes on, CMS solutions (especially open source) have become much more prominent and readily available.

During the “dating” period with potential clients, it's fairly common to hear questions about the pros and cons of an open source CMS versus a proprietary CMS like Spinternet. Certainly we feel that our proprietary solution is the perfect fit, but also understand in some situations an open source solution may be better. 

We thought it would be helpful to put together some pros and cons to help show both sides.

Open Source PROs

  • Typically free
  • Often include a large "out of the box" feature set
  • Community of users
  • Works well for small websites with general content

Proprietary PROs

  • Extremely adaptable and customizable to fit your specific needs
  • Tailored the site to the company
  • Customizable backend interface to match features/design on frontend
  • Unique design without need for templates
  • Training and support directly from company who built the CMS versus a community of users

Open Source CONs

  • Free use of service, but it's more than likely you'll need help with installation / implementation. (Based on your needs the implementation styles can vary and you often run into shoving a square peg into a circle hole.)
  • Often times, it's a case of "what you see is what you get"
  • Harder to customize to your specific needs
  • Designs are often derived from templates
  • Target of more vulnerabilities

Proprietary CONs

  • Technically you don’t own the software (however you do, as with any solution, still own the content on the site
  • Smaller "out of the box" feature set
  • Add-on features require additional costs / time from designer / developer

Certain technical factors help you make a choice, but what's most important is choosing the right fit based on your website's specific needs.

"At the end of the day, the question to ask isn’t Open Source vs. Proprietary OR Free vs. Price, but what problem do I have? What solution solves it best? What kind of support will I need over the long-haul and is it readily available at a reasonable price? What’s my comfort with risk?"

Open Source vs. Proprietary Software: There is No Clear Winner

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