Open Source ‘vs’ Enterprise CMS

21 Dec 2014

An evolving landscape

As a digital agency with a ten year track record Metadigital has been involved in delivering our fair share of enterprise CMS (content management systems) over the years. This has involved many, primarily Microsoft based, products including Obtree, LiveLink, EPiServer, Immediacy and SharePoint.

In the last couple of years we’ve seen a major increase in customers specifically looking for open source (or licence free) CMS software. This is primarily due to open source becoming more mature making it a viable contender for technically demanding projects and / or complex organisational structures.

In this post I will give a very brief overview of a few of the main characteristics of open source CMS solutions ‘vs’ enterprise or proprietary software.

Open source:

  • Free (but realistically there are some costs!)
  • A more popular approach, certainly for SME or non-enterprise
  • A community of developers contribute to the code, spot flaws and fix them quickly
  • An open roadmap means developer-led rather than being product focused
  • A more flexible, modular approach which is often simpler to adapt and integrate with other software / platforms
  • No or limited support (i.e. limited to an active community via forums, etc)

Proprietary software:

  • Typically hefty recurring licence fees
  • Comprehensive documentation
  • Dedicated support from a team of developers
  • A roadmap for development and new features
  • Purpose built integrations with other commercial products

In our experience many large enterprises and public sector organisations find comfort in the fact that proprietary software allows them to:

  • Have a single vendor relationship and point of contact
  • Reduces the level of technical expertise required in-house
  • Provides structured training programmes for staff in using the software
  • Additional, accredited, resource available at short notice

However, a maturing open source market has led to several solutions emerging which achieve a middle ground.

At Metadigital we focus our expertise around Umbraco – a Microsoft .NET based CMS which was first released in 2004. Since then it has gone through several major releases and is currently on version 7.1 which includes a complete overhaul of it’s ‘back-office’ or admin area.

As adoption of Umbraco has gathered pace a well structured offering has grown around it. A well organised community provides strong support for developers (and content authors). Official training courses provide certification for developers and authors. A market has developed for Umbraco certified developers and resource is available to meet the demands of larger projects.

We’re not looking to make any significant conclusions here – just provide some thoughts on an evolving landscape. If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised then please get in touch.

More on Umbraco:

Umbraco is based on the Microsoft .Net framework. There are over 125 000 sites running on Umbraco CMS in a wide variety of sectors from micro sites to large global enterprises. These include sites for Historic Scotland, Heinz, Peugeot, Fox, Microsoft, Tesco plc. and Wired magazine.

For more information visit the Umbraco website.

By: Robin Balmforth



If you'd like an informal chat about how Metadigital can help with your digital project please get in touch.