Open source content management systems have made major progress in recent years. The systems have matured usual weaknesses such as usability, integration, lacking features and weak documentation has been addressed. In addition many large and complex organisations have adopted open source CMS and are now running busy sites on the platforms.
Illustration credit: Siteworx
For buyers, a significant barrier to open source adoption has always been the lack of large competent implementation partners with open source CMS experience. In the past, open source CMS developers used to be mostly freelancers or boutique consultancies with less than 10 experienced developers. Very often these had low rates, but weak project management and a poor track record. Today most system integrators and digital agencies, even the large ones, have experience with open source CMS.
The increased adoption by viable implementation partners has been partially driven by the many government agencies that mandate the use of open source, often due to the systems' strong support for standards. This has forced large digital agencies, e.g. LBi and Sapient to build skills with several open source systems. As a testament to this, LBi hosted an UK Umbraco meetup at their London offices earlier this month.
When looking for an implementation partner, consider specifically asking for open source, as many of the partners still promote commercial alternatives, e.g. Day Software or Sitecore, as those projects tend to be more profitable for them.
The marketplace for commercial and open source systems are equally crowded. A long list of open source projects will meet your requirements, have relevant references and a few available implementation partners.
To expand on our recent CMS Shortlist, here are the open source tools that we consider good candidates for your shortlist:
In certain regions you will find strong penetration of other viable open source systems such as Alfresco, Hippo, Jahia, Magnolia, SilverStripe, Squiz and even WordPress used as a CMS.
I still commonly get the question whether open source CMS comes with any major disadvantages. For a while my answer has been no. Open source tends to share some of the weaknesses found in commercial systems, but today there are no good reasons for automatically excluding open source from your CMS selection.