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The level of polarization around whether enterprise businesses should leverage Open Source or Proprietary Software to power its IT Solutions, is akin to a political debate. Discussion quickly intensifies, and depending on who you talk to, both forms of development come with advantages & disadvantages.

Before we take a deep dive into this debate, let’s define each type of ECM or Document Management development.

What Is Open-Source?

An Open Source model to web development implies universal – or free – access to a product’s design or blueprint for redistribution, including subsequent improvements to the source code by anyone.  The primary benefit here is the DIY-process attained through online communities where Open Source developers share tricks and customization ideas.

PROS: Investment Cost is Lower, More Customizeable

CONS: Can over-customize, Requires Development Team In-House or Outsourcing to Build More Systems

What is Enterprise, or Proprietary Software?

Proprietary Software is licensed under the exclusive legal right of the copyright holder, distributed to licensees under certain conditions, and restricted from other uses – such as modification, sharing, studying, redistribution, or reverse engineering. Usually the source code of proprietary software is not made available.

PROS: Software is more Stable, Ready for any Admin/User after Training

CONS: More Expensive, Less Customizeable


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Breakdown: Open Source vs. Proprietary Software

So what, exactly, are the pros and cons of Open Source and Proprietary Software? Glad you asked!  Here are four factors to weigh when determining which method your business should pursue for your website.


1. Cost

Open Source: On the surface, Open Source is free of cost. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. Peel back a few layers and you’ll quickly find that using an Open Source platform requires significant internal resources -- namely time and money -- to develop, maintain, troubleshoot, and support a website.  Furthermore, while relying on community forums to make just the slightest customization to your website is a nice idea, in business terms it’s an inefficient process.

Proprietary Software: Without question, the upfront costs of Proprietary Software are daunting when compared to Open Source. That said, Proprietary Software alleviates common issues of web development while still empowering non-technical users to easily update and edit a website. As we’ll discuss later, the long-term costs are important to consider when launching a mission critical website.


2. Support:

Proprietary Software: Want to change the layout of your website? How about customizing the menus, from page to page, or adding visitor engagement features? Proprietary Software companies typically have a support team dedicated to user questions about customer websites; in fact, oftentimes, they’ll immediately complete requested customizations for their customers.

Open Source: The Internet is full of resources to answer common questions about Open Source development – but, again, this requires either 1.) expert developers in-house; 2.) a poor marketing intern to scour message boards for solutions to problems with your website.


3. Hosting, Visitor Security & Uptime.

Open Source: If they use an Open Source platform, this section of features keeps C-Level Executives up at night. In the Wild, Wild West (e.g. the Open Source world), if something goes awry – a flaw penetrates the source code – not only is valuable time spent digging through never-ending lines of code in order to identify the issue, but there’s no telling when action will be taken to remedy the bug.  Perhaps worse, unlike Proprietary Software, Open Source platforms expose a website’s source code to the public, and can be changed without permission at any time -- thus altering your website. In short, it’s the customization – and surprise – you never asked for.

Proprietary Software: On the other hand, Proprietary Software companies eliminate concerns by providing a stable, secure environment for its users. The better vendors provide a complete outsourcing solution for your website through fully managed hosting services. Hosting facilities typically include dedicated in-house production and development servers, as well as a dedicated 24- hour monitored co-location facility for mission critical applications.  What this means? Proprietary Software companies assure the integrity and protection of a company website’s hosting environment. Even better, communications are typically sent out to its customerbase well in advance of patches, software upgrades and other general maintenance notifications.


4. Third-Party Integration Capabilities

Open Source: Integration with third-party Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and transactional tools -- like SalesForce, email platforms, or even an eCommerce web store -- is extremely unreliable with an Open Source platform. Open Source development predominantly relies on the use of plug-ins. Point is, having separate solutions all of which may – or may not – integrate with one another. This conundrum becomes problematic, especially in terms of software updates affecting your web capabilities.

Proprietary Software: Alternatively, Proprietary Software oftentimes integrates critical digital marketing capabilities within its own platform. This way, instead of employing disparate solutions that may not play nicely with one another, your campaigns are unified. For example, an email marketing campaign seamlessly shares the same data points with your analytics software. The end result helps businesses efficiently streamline the customer conversion process.


Decide Which is Best for You

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Tallega Implements and Supports BOTH Enterprise and Open-Source ECM Solutions



There are literally thousands of ECM Solutions available on the market today.  Trust an ECM Consulting Team with over 50+ Years of Experience, to help you find the "right" solution for your needs.  Tallega will provide you a free non-biased consultation to fix your project pains.


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