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Open Source vs Proprietary – Part 3

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Last week, I defined some of the terms that make up the confusing world of enterprise content management (ECM) systems (ECMS), content management systems (CMS), web content management systems (WCMS), and web site management systems (WMS). Pick your poison, it really doesn’t matter what you call it.

The question is essentially twofold in the most simplistic terms:

1. Will the software do what I need and be able to scale with my company as needs change and/or increase?

2. Is it cost effective? There are a lot of factors contributing to this criterion.

There are literally hundreds of software packages out there, some open source and free, some proprietary and inexpensive, some proprietary and extremely expensive. Some are pretty easy to install and use and, as capabilities increase, complexity and learning curve increase.

Taking capabilities first, let’s look at a few open source examples:

All software below is essentially free if you do all the work yourself

1. WordPress – if you want a great blog, this software is the way to go. We recommend that no company ever use a free blogging platform, such as Blogger.com, if for no other reason that it dilutes your branding. If you have a blog, you need to have it on your domain. But, I digress. WordPress is pretty easy to install, set up, and use. It can do more than just blogging, but to really expand its capabilities, you are going to have to do a lot of customization. I have used and set up numerous WordPress blog sites.

Typo3 page tree2. Joomla – this what I would call a mid-range content management system. It is fairly easy to install and learn if you use a canned template. But, there are many limitations and it doesn’t scale very well. In my opinion, its biggest weakness is lack of a page tree, making moving around the site backend difficult. See the TYPO3 page tree on the left. Joomla is useful in many situations and I have used it for sites I knew would never need additional features.

3. TYPO3 and Drupal – People may argue, but I think that TYPO3 and Drupal are the major open source ECM systems available today. Personally, after a lot of reasearch, I decided that TYPO3 was the best, but Drupal is certainly no slouch. These types of systems require technical expertise to install and configure and involve a relatively steep learning curve. But, they can do virtually anything an enterprise level intranet/internet system needs to do.

Next time, we’ll take a look at some proprietary ECM / CMS systems, as well as costs associated with implementing each.

Find of the week: If you use Twitter, but are not a texting junkie, check out TweetDeck. This is one of the coolest software programs I have seen in a long time. You can Tweet from there, as well as manage your Tweet feeds very efficiently.

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