Proprietary Content Management Systems (CMS)

A proprietary content management system is typically owned by the company that built it. Now before you click away, think in terms of the software that you’re running on your computer right now. Have you used an Excel spreadsheet recently? That software/code isn’t yours, it belongs to Microsoft and its proprietary, but by purchasing it and agreeing to the terms of use Microsoft grants you a license to use it as you see fit. Used Photoshop on your Mac? Same deal, it’s an Adobe product but by purchasing the package you’re entitled to full use and to updates as they push them out.

Over the years – and not coincidentally as support grew for open source platforms – proprietary content management systems have taken quite a bit of heat. Proponents of open source platforms will point to the fact that the code is generally owned by the author/vendor and that depending on the language it was written in, could be expensive or cumbersome to update as your needs grow.

While accurate, the points above aren’t as sinister as many in the open source community would have you believe. The real benefits of a proprietary CMS boil down to some reality-based business drivers:

  1. Specific Purpose – An open source CMS like WordPress can be customized for nearly any purpose, but a proprietary system may already supply full website functionality for a specific purpose right “out of the box”. Take our proprietary Q&A platform Panelverse (or Jobverse) for instance. Since its first release years ago, we’ve continually refined our platform/software to manage online branded Q&A giving our customers every tool they need to host, manage, and deploy great content to their websites and social platforms. All the business intelligence we’ve gained has been baked in and works at launch with very little customization necessary. That speeds time to market and keeps costs low. Customizing an open source product to include the logic we’ve already built into ours would costs thousands more than where our product starts.
  2. Enhanced Security – Proprietary content management systems may give the host/vendor greater control over the server and the support systems. A professionally-supported hosting vendor can provide web servers, firewalls, database servers, dedicated switches, and other custom hardware that give your websites leading-edge performance, stability and security. As a simple example, your solution may include databases that are directly connected to your web servers which allows websites to communicate to their databases behind the firewall not exposing data requests to the public. They may also support dedicated firewall technology with granular control over IP-level access for things like staging sites or secure connections, and the hardware is typically dedicated so your vendor can control what runs on it and who can access it. These options are all available to open source applications as well, but generally speaking the hardware configuration of a proprietary CMS has been tweaked and perfected for the website’s specific performance requirements and will both deploy and scale with ease.
  3. Simplified User Interface – A function of all content management systems is its administrative interface. A typical open source administration system deploys with a standard set of options that are designed to give the end-user pinpoint control over the functionality of their website.
  4. Hosting Simplicity – In many instances a proprietary CMS has been written for a specific operating system that the developer has experience with. They may have staff that are qualified to maintain what would in any other situation be a very complicated and expensive hosting environment. Additionally, you may be able to realize hosting savings by using a proprietary CMS because the hosting resources are already deployed and can be easily expanded to include your new web property. But at the end of the day, if your developer is offering you a proprietary CMS they better have experience hosting it and make the launch experience as pain free.

We’re fully aware that there are counter arguments to every point above, and we’re aware that a well-managed open source project can satisfy all of the above as well. We’re not trying to push you in one direction or the other.

This is a bit like getting into an argument about the designated hitter in baseball. If you’re a fan of the DH, no National League die-hard will ever convince you that having pitchers hit is a good idea. I mean who doesn’t want a dead spot in their lineup and injuries on the base pads?

Proprietary, Shmoprietary.

We totally get it, we’re using annoying words and speaking like experts on a subject that’s about as exciting as a 4-hour kid-pitch Little League baseball game (you baseball parents know what we mean). Don’t freak, we can help and we’re good at it.