Proprietary Software Sometimes Has the Upper Hand on Open Source

October 22, 2008

Let's just get it out there - we have built proprietary Content Management Software that we put all of our sites on.  That's right - we built it from scratch.  We are the ones responsible for improving it and we handle the tech support.  It seems that at every business pitch I go to, people are either in disbelief that we actually built it from scratch or scared to death of using a proprietary system.  I'll let you in on a little secret: proprietary software doesn't have to scare you or your organization.

It seems that open source is all the rage nowadays, whether it be open source CMS options or project management solutions.  However, there are drawbacks to most open source solutions that make them impractical for many users.

One example of a huge drawback to open source software is support.  What happens when you can't figure out how to format an image using your Drupal CMS or you can't get projects to work correctly in Project PierThere's no support phone number or email to reach out to - looks like you'll just have to sift through forums and documentation and try to find the appropriate answer.  This may work for some people, but I know that the majority of our clients need instant support or someone to walk them through the process.  This just simply isn't going to happen with open source options.

Even with the support issue and other drawbacks with open source software (too broad/generic, slow to advance), people can still be hesitant when looking at a proprietary solution.  The perpetual "elephant in the room" that people hesitantly bring up is what if NMC goes out of business or they want to leave NMC down the line?  Those are completely fair questions that people shouldn't be scared to bring up.  However, they are also concerns that shouldn't be fretted on too much.

  • First, you have data portability with our system.  If a client ever wants to leave for any reason, they have the right to all of their data and it can easily be exported out for them to use in another system.  We never claim to own your design, content, or data, so should someone decide to leave us, they can easily move all of their data to a new vendor.  
  • Second, as long as people are paying hosting, our system can keep running on our servers.  So, even if for some inexplicable reason, NMC disappeared, that doesn't mean our CMS would also disappear.  We have launched over 150 websites, all of whom pay monthly hosting fees to cover our server fees and use of our system.  As long as people continue to pay those fees, our Content Management Software will stay active and can continue to be used by our clients.
  • Third, we're a growing and healthy company with over 100 clients.  Even though we're a Raleigh web design firm, we have clients of all sizes from across the country that look to us as their web partner. This allows us to be in a healthy position to continue innovating and improving our CMS rapidly, which is something that rarely happens with open source solutions as they tend to stagnate or lose sight of niche clients and focus on general improvements rather than ones that help their existing client base. 

I just wanted to address the concerns I hear everytime I meet with a new client - there's no denying that there are some powerful open source solutions; however, they frequently lose sight of immediate goals and who their main consumers are.  With our software, you know we'll be here every step of the way to support you and continue making our system even better.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on proprietary vs. open-source.

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