Despite much hype we did not see a breakthrough for open source CMS last year. When I launched the discussion last year, we received some great comments, e.g. on intellectual property and warranty, suggesting that in some cases open source is not the right decision.
In the past decade, several governments have issued statements with strong support for open source, e.g. UK government backs open source and Denmark's endorsement of Plone. Often these statements were driven by an underlying desire to save money and drum up competition for Microsoft and the de-facto Windows & Office monopoly.
Our usual advice is not to start by deciding on open source or not. However, in our community of practice, many technology selection projects often start with a debate around whether open source is good or bad. Many members report that they have experienced quite expensive open source projects, indicating that open source is not always cheaper.
A significant factor in terms of value is the cost and quality of the implementation. If you've selected an open source system, say Drupal, WordPress or Umbraco, for your new website, but cannot find any experienced implementation partner, then you may be forced to take a step back and rethink your selection process. You might have enough resources to do the implementation yourself, but I don't recommend doing it without proper training and expert assistance. Most open source projects have really weak documentation.
Also, if you don't have any resources to engage in a vibrant open source community, you are missing out on one of the big advantages of open source. Except for the really big vendors, e.g. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, which have decent communities for developers, most commercial vendors don't have communities where you can meet other practitioners and share experiences.
If you are concerned about risk, it is worth noting that some relatively well-known open source projects, e.g. Mambo got in trouble back in 2005 when most of the developers associated with it decided to start Joomla. HyperContent, another open source CMS, was announced dead in 2008. Commercial systems don't live forever either, but typically you can continue to buy support from the vendor.
Your requirements may deflate the value of open source. Those with strong requirements for Microsoft Office integration, e.g. seamless Word integration, might struggle to find an open source solution that support the requirement, while many commercial alternatives have offered this for 5+ years.
The past decade saw the rise of the so-called "commercial open source vendors", e.g. Alfresco, eZ or Jahia. These vendors have open source solutions, but earn their money on selling enterprise licenses, training, and support agreements. Some even do consulting. In their own words, they provide the best of both worlds, although I'm yet to see any of these firms develop a serious community.
In your view, when does open source software not represent the best value?
I am presenting on Thursday 7th January in London at a free event run by BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT on Public Funds in the UK: Open Source for Document and Content Management. Whether you can make it to London or not, I invite you to participate in the discussion by posting a comment below.