What are the Benefits of Open Source vs. Closed Source?

Jo Stephens


When it comes to choosing the right content management system (CMS) for your business, for those who aren’t experts, what seems a relatively simple exercise can very quickly turn complicated. It is a good idea to get to grips with the two main types of CMS out there – open source and closed source – and their main characteristics.

In short, open-source technologies give you a fully modifiable CMS with code that can be viewed and shared by other users, while closed source technologies keep modification private and come with republishing restrictions, lending more protection and exclusivity to its users. Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

Open-source technologies


In terms of cost, it might be said that open source software is the cheaper option, even when considering outlays such as training staff and enhancing infrastructure in line with growth. Open source offers a high level of flexibility when it comes to customising and making changes to the software. In terms of customer service, it is more reliant on forums and blogs where fellow users exchange information and tips.


The flexibility that open source software provides is often questioned in terms of its effect on the end-user and might have a negative impact on the future growth of the software. Usability is commonly picked up as an open-source downfall, with critics saying that often ‘lay people’ that aren’t developers struggle to get to grips with platforms. And the lack of controlled security is a major reason that large organisations might shy away from open source.

Closed source technologies


It could be argued that closed source is better value due to the quality of the support and the degree of customisability it offers. Dedicated support is typically on hand for those that need it, meaning those with little development experience can be guided through the relevant nuances. Security is another huge factor, and the controlled environment closed source offers can be a safeguard against the unwanted presence of Trojans and the like.


Closed source technologies for large organisations can run into six figures in terms of cost, and users will usually have to pay a base fee, as well as licensing and support charges. In terms of flexibility of short and long-term development, the fact that viewing or making changes to source code is often restricted by closed source software is seen as a downfall by some users.