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When we get the chance to talk with website stakeholders from state and local governments, crucial concerns about open source versus proprietary web solutions regularly come up.

Stakeholders are curious about:

  • What benefits does open source software offer?
  • What does vendor lock-in mean?
  • Open source is it safe?
  • Are open source programmes cost-free?

What about drawbacks?

We enjoy queries that lead to a deeper comprehension of what open source is all about since we are enthusiastic about open source and active members of the Drupal Community.

Of course, we strongly support open source because of its advantages for cost effectiveness, better security, and collaborative brainpower.

But the reality is that understanding the idea of open source is not always simple. It does not easily fit into the typical, competitive company paradigm where only paying customers may access the secret sauce of solutions created with the intention of generating a profit.

Open source software is accessible and adaptable. A global community of 1 million people uses Drupal, which is the very best example of open source software. 100,000 of these people actively support one another by sharing knowledge, networking, looking out for security flaws, and developing freely available modules in response to the constantly changing demands and expectations of the market.

Contrarily, proprietary software is the property of the person or business that created it. It comes with purchase costs as well as monthly or yearly licence costs.

In the debate between open source and proprietary software, cost savings are a significant issue, but value is sometimes shown to be much more important. So let's go over the benefits...

The benefits of open source

Drupal sites profit from the massive, accumulated intelligence of a community whose contributions are rigorously filtered since it is an open source CMS.

Access to continuing innovation in the form of plugins, modules, security fixes, as well as a strong worldwide developer community, is made possible by this. It's challenging to even estimate the worth of ongoing innovation that's readily available in the present market, when IT talent is in such great demand.

Contrast this dynamic with that seen in proprietary systems, which make an effort to recruit and hold onto a narrow talent pool.

Nevertheless, choosing between open source and commercial software may be challenging. We comprehend. Businesses that provide exclusive CMS solutions to state and local governments run active marketing efforts and make strong cases for why their products are better.

Because we have frequently been called upon to transfer government websites that had previously been designed using proprietary software to an open source Drupal CMS, we are quite familiar with these solutions.

The outcome of the switch to Drupal is:

  • Unprecedented degrees of adaptability
  • Enormous cost savings
  • The ability to steer the CMS in the future without being constrained by the vendor's roadmap for updates and security patches

Vendor lock-in: what is it?

Stakeholders who have found themselves dependent upon the restrictions of the licence deal with the vendor who designed their CMS may find themselves at a considerable disadvantage today since flexibility is now a crucial success criterion.

An unavoidable side effect of a website created with proprietary software is vendor lock-in. The vendor is in charge of all upgrades and security patches and controls the site's source code.

Owners of websites powered by proprietary software are subject to the roadmap, pricing policy, corporate choices, and yearly licence costs of the specific vendor. Clients rely on the vendor to make things happen if they wish to change their minds for whatever reason.

If the vendor relationship goes sour, the support is subpar, the vendor's UI/IX team is out of sync with changing constituent expectations for the site, etc., there are countless other Drupal shops and Drupal developers with the expertise to get into the code and move the site in a new direction. Compare this to a site built on an open source Drupal CMS.

When a partnership for website creation begins, there is typically a lengthy courting and honeymoon period that is filled with enormous new expectations and opportunities. People and priorities may change over a few or many years.

There is no escape route while using proprietary software.

Of course, no one wants to consider a long list of potential mitigating circumstances that can damage a connection, but doing so is prudent business practise. Every development and support agreement, as well as with all Drupal developers, is effectively a prenuptial agreement.

Is it secure?

The idea of open source security may seem a little strange to some people. The words "open" and "secure" are not synonymous. What types of guardrails are in place if the code is easily accessible. Is it simple to hack open source?

In actuality, security is a key benefit of open source.

The code of open source software may be thoroughly audited in order to find any possible security risks. Site owners are free to change the code as they see appropriate, whether to increase security or adapt a website to their own requirements.

Users are fully empowered to fix any vulnerabilities they find on their own, and the Drupal community is continuously on the lookout for security concerns and notifying Drupal support partners about them.

For a variety of reasons, compared to proprietary software, open source vulnerabilities are frequently discovered much more quickly and fixed more quickly.

Proprietary projects receive far less attention, and resources may not always be available to address vulnerabilities when they are found.

Are open source programmes really cost-free?

The answer to this query is unambiguously "yes, but..."

Open source software is publicly accessible, the code base may be examined, changed, or improved, and there are no additional costs for using it.

Contrarily, proprietary software is owned and maintained by a company that has exclusive access to the source code. When using proprietary software, there are licencing costs that go into planned improvements.

Proprietary software licensing costs, however, are meant to pay for upgrades and routine maintenance. Open source websites also require monitoring and upkeep, which can be done through support connections or specialised inside knowledge.

Even while open source solutions are frequently far less expensive than proprietary ones, it's important to keep the meaning of "free" in context. The point is that open source site owners have the opportunity to select from a wide range of Drupal support choices, which tend to be far more cost-effective and value-added than licence contracts for proprietary software. There are charges involved with outside support agreements.

The fact that help relationships are not fixed gives Drupal support professionals every motivation to give each day's support connection their all. The motive for excellent service, on the other hand, does not have to be demonstrated with each encounter in a locked-in relationship with a provider of proprietary software.

What are the downsides of open source?

That is a valid question to ask. At Code Enigma, we have hands-on experience building websites that go above and beyond user expectations and are set up to do so indefinitely. We only see benefits from open source. Feel free to contact us about an open source software ecosystem and how we can create the integrations you need.