Is open source CMS really free?

One of the most common myths about content management systems is that open source solutions are free and therefore it just isn’t worth forking out for a paid system. But that’s not necessarily the case. What do developers with experience of both Kentico CMS and open source solutions think about it?

Free, but with additional costs

iStock_000007536284XSmall-(1).jpgAlthough you don’t pay for the open source solution itself, in order to produce the featured site you want, you will find there to be plenty of extra costs and you can’t expect any help or support when you get into trouble during deployment, upgrade or use of the CMS. “For many years we were developing all our sites in Joomla and although people talk about Joomla being free software, the strange thing is, of course, that it is not free. There is the ongoing cost of maintenance, upgrades, constant battles against security breaches,” says Nick Hadley of Kudos Web.

Security threats and complicated upgrades

One of the frequent complaints from open source solution users is the heightened security risk. The source code is freely available and any hacker discovering security flaws may find your site an easy target. Fixing such a threat may take time and money… Although one does expect open source platforms to be modified, upgrades may be very complicated and expensive, especially if the developer needs to re-do modifications with each new version. As Chad Francis of [IO] DEVELOPMENT who has experiences with DotNetNuke and Joomla says: “The administrative backend is definitely not as easy to use as Kentico. It definitely doesn’t have the standard fill. If we tried to put in plug-ins, its extra installation and a lot of versioning problems (…) Kentico really is a consistent standard and everything is available, (…) very easy to upgrade or to add a blog, a forum, any of those things, it just makes it very simple to do.“

When customer support is missing

Open source solutions are usually based on a community of fans. Official technical support provided by the vendor – if available – is often very expensive. “Documentation” often exists in the form of the community forums or publicly-available and somewhat lacking sources, dramatically slowing down development. For Rahul Vats, technical support was one of the crucial factors in making his decision as to which CMS system to choose for their web agency, Global ID Group’s clients. His choice was between commercial ASP.NET CMS’s and various open source solutions like Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal. His final decision was to reject open source and instead go for a paid content management system. “Joomla and Kentico were the ones that I really liked. (…) I would any day prefer to use Kentico because of the great support system (…). We hadn’t experienced such a great service anywhere else, with any other company.“

Open source: not for larger projects

Even die hard open source fans would probably admit, that the systems just aren’t sufficient for a serious business website. As David Conder of Bluemodus says: “They may be useful for very simple one-off ad hoc type sites. We found that they are really not useful for robust, high performance, secure sites.“ Also if you are developer and want to reach medium-sized and large clients, open source just doesn’t make the cut. The larger the contract, the great the number of features expected, the greater the security required, the tighter the deadlines and the less you’ll want to spend your time solving unnecessary problems, fighting bugs and fixing upgrade incompatibilities. Nick Hadley of Kudos Web tells of how one customer’s needs required a change from their usual Joomla starting point to the much more robust and full-featured solution - Kentico CMS. “One of our clients who had suddenly expanded from a very small team to a very large government department (…) wanted us to rebuild their site and we knew full well that this was going to be one of the biggest sites we’d ever built and we couldn't possibly face trying to persuade them to use Joomla. So we looked for a sound, solid, commercial content management system and Kentico was our chosen platform.”

A successful website and a very happy customer led to Kudos receiving another contract for three more sites from the same government body - all now being built in Kentico. The decision to move away from the open source solution bolstered their clientele to one searching for an enterprise, robust and stable solution.

Price is not the most important thing

Of course price matters. But it isn’t the most important factor when choosing the best content management solution for a business website; the hub of a company’s online presence. And many business owners already know it. Chad Collins of Nubifer has had a lot of experience working with key executives and stakeholders: “Usually the budget is not the issue, what they are looking for is the best possible usability experience over all. (…) And by far Kentico stands ahead.“

Share this article on   LinkedIn

Katerina Rozsnyo Pelanova

Hi, I'm the Campaign Manager at Kentico and I take care of marketing campaigns and communication in social networks. So please stay tuned to our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter to get hot news about Kentico.