Why use a proprietary, licensed content management system?

Paul Boag

Open source content management systems have come to dominate the sector, but does that mean there is never a reason to use a proprietary, licensed system?

I have to confess that this particular debate topic is born as much out of my own confusion, as the desire to pick an interesting subject.

Over the years I have worked with a huge number of content management systems. In the past the majority of these were proprietary, licensed systems provided by specialised companies. However, more recently I have seen a shift towards open source platforms such as Drupal, WordPress or the like.

For a while I could still see the value of choosing a licensed CMS. They were often better designed, more powerful and you received a greater level of support. However I increasingly find myself wondering why anybody would pay for a content management system license.

Over recent years the quality of open source content management systems have improved beyond recognition. More well known and popular open source projects have so many people working on them that licensed, proprietary systems cannot hope to keep up.

Support and longevity?

I guess support could still be a reason to go down the proprietary route. They tend to offer better documentation and have dedicated support. But on the other hand you could argue that open source often has a stronger and more vibrant community you can turn to.

Of course that presumes the project stays active. One of the big problems with open source is that the developer community can become fickle and move on to other projects, so abandoning a CMS that you are tied to. I guess you could argue the chance of that is less with proprietary systems.

Admittedly I am not a developer, but I struggle to make a case for licensed content management systems anymore and wondered if I am alone. I would therefore like to suggest that…

This house proposes that clients should stop paying for licensed, proprietary content management solutions and embrace open source.

What have I missed here? If you still use licensed, proprietary content management systems, can you explain to me why? What benefits do they provide over open source? If you are a proponent of open source, what is your response to concerns over longevity and support? Post your thoughts on the subject in the comments.