Open-Source CMS Vs. Closed-Source CMS

Open-Source CMS Vs. Closed-Source CMS

Digital is a compulsory passage for all companies. Choosing the software that will be used to build your website will be an essential factor in your success. Indeed, you need a site that converts your prospects and where you can build your brand identity. But, how to build this site? If you’re in the job of finding the right content management system (CMS) for your business, you might be confused by all the options available. You’ve probably seen terms like “open source” and “closed source”. So what do they mean? Let’s go beyond the technical jargon and compare open source and closed source content management platforms to determine what the differences are and which one is best for your needs.


CMS is the abbreviation of Content Management System. It is a platform that allows users to publish, edit and modify the content of a website. What makes these platforms so attractive is that owners can update and maintain the content of their websites without needing to know how to code using languages ​​like CSS or HTML. This gives the admin greater control over their website and the freedom to update or change content whenever they want – without having to rely on a developer. It’s pretty simple isn’t it?

The decision you will need to make is whether an open-source or closed-source CMS works for your business. Everyone wants a website that looks good and is easy to manage, but it’s just as important to choose a CMS that offers the right functionality and flexibility.


Open source CMS are free to use and kept up to date by a community of developers. Often, this community of developers is spread across several countries and continents. To allow all these developers to contribute to the CMS as a project, the source code of open source CMS is therefore made public.

This means that the general public can modify and optimize open source CMS freely. There is a strange duality in open source software. On the one hand, the freedom movement that drives it forward is reminiscent of the early days of the internet. On the other hand, the very system that makes “free” software so attractive is the source of its vulnerabilities. Since everyone has access to the source code, malicious actors can easily manipulate the code to attack certain websites and distribute malware.

Of course, open source CMS are the most popular on the market. Since they are free, anyone can easily use them and start a website. But that doesn’t necessarily make them the best option for businesses, governments, or public figures, as they often have security gaps.

Here are some examples of the most famous open-source platforms:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal


A closed-source CMS, also known as a proprietary CMS, is software that is legally owned by a company, group or individual. The CMS copyright holder usually does not disclose the source code to the public, and often only those who have purchased a license key can use it. Examples of proprietary content management systems are Adobe Experience Manager, Kentico, and SiteCore. So-called “free” software can also be included in the category of proprietary software. The product or service can be used free of charge, but the source code remains closed.


In general, the main differentiators between open and closed-source systems boil down to a few things:

  • The cost
  • The service
  • Innovation
  • Utilisation facility
  • Security

There are pros and cons to each of them and the direction you take will largely depend on your priorities for each of these 5 factors.

[Difference # 1] The cost

One of the main advantages of open-source software is its cost.

If you have the in-house capabilities and technical expertise to maintain the software, as well as the resources to implement it, then open-source software can be the most profitable for your business. However, you need to consider the long-term costs of implementing, supporting, and investing in infrastructure as your business evolves, technology changes, and your needs increase.

For a Closed Source CMS, depending on the complexity of the system, the cost can vary between a few thousand and a few hundred thousand dollars, which includes the price of the software, the integration and the services, as well as the annual fees. license / support. While the base cost may be higher, in return you get a secure product with powerful functionality, high scalability, ongoing support, and less need for technical skills.

[Difference # 2] The service

Open-source software relies on an engaged online user community to provide support through forums and blogs. Often, you can also contact support via support tickets. Generally, the level of overall support and service is very satisfactory.

Service and support are probably the biggest benefits of using proprietary software. Ongoing support is a key selling point for users with low technical skills and one of the main reasons some people choose closed-source software.

[Difference # 3] Personalization

This, again, is one of the great advantages of open-source software: it offers great flexibility and the freedom to modify it without restriction. Most of the time, you do not need very developed knowledge in the matter because their use is facilitated.

Closed-source software is available for specific uses. Unlike open source, proprietary software attracts greater amounts of R&D in order to regularly offer new products and updates.

[Difference # 4] Ease of use

Ease of use is often put forward in open-source software. Indeed, as we specified in the point just before, personalizing its site to infinity is possible without having too great knowledge in development. However, calling on professionals like the Churchill web agency is advisable for complex manipulations.

For closed-source software, ease of use is a big selling point due to continuous testing by experts for a more targeted audience. User manuals and extensive tutorials are also provided for quick training, while support services help optimize software usage.

[Difference # 5] Safety

The security of open-source software is often a concern for large companies, as it is not always developed in a controlled environment. One way to reduce this risk is to call on a team of professionals who know the safety rules by heart.

Closed-source software is generally considered to be more secure because it is developed in an environment controlled by a team with common management. This team is the only one able to consult or modify the source code, it is subjected to a rigorous audit and the risk of attacks is reduced (even if the risk 0 does not exist).

Finally, be aware that the main advantages and disadvantages of open source software compared to closed-source software depend largely on your technical expertise and the resources available to keep the software up to date.

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